Is Microsoft still a cool place to work? Certainly Twitter, Facebook and various hot startups come to mind before the behemoth Microsoft, the company Reuters describes as "the company once derided as the 'death star' of the technology business and lately thought of not so much as dangerous, but merely irrelevant, bureaucratic and dull."
But "Microsoft feels cool again," the article quotes one of the Microsoft's 1,500 summer interns in Redmond, Wash. Microsoft is "revolutionizing the world," quoth another.
Microsoft has long known how to roll out the red carpet and to party. In the heated competition for young talent, it plays to win. But cool?
Google was named the best place to intern in a recent poll at Glassdoor.com, but followed closely by Microsoft. Research interns at Microsoft make on average $6,746 a month, while program manager interns make about $5,232.
In a student poll by branding experts Universum as their most-desired employer, Microsoft again ranked No. 2 behind Google among IT students, but ahead of Apple, Facebook, Electronic Arts and others. It ranked No. 11 among engineering students. (Google ranked No. 4.)
But a recent book by two former Microsoft employees, called "Stack Rank This!" portrays a heavy bureaucracy beset by abusive managers and dysfunctional teams.
Reuters, however, quotes John Ludwig, a former senior executive behind the creation of Internet Explorer and Windows 95, saying:
Young students want inspiration, they want to follow something. That underdog thing is a powerful motivator - for a lot of great talent, that's an appealing place to be, that feeling of us against the world."
In that sense, Microsoft has a lot going for it, considering it's playing catch-up on smartphones, tablets, search, as well as a lot of enterprise technology. Ludwig says that Microsoft's old "scrappy" spirit is resurfacing. The question is whether it can prevail now that Google, Facebook and myriad hot startups are recruiting heavily in Seattle.