Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why Joel Spolsky hates Microsoft Mesh -- and what this says about the peculiar course of software outsourcing

Spolasky thinks the Microsoft Live Mesh idea is dumb, that Microsoft is again trying to solve an insanely hard problem nobody cares about - synchronization. Ray Ozzie rewriting Notes/Agenda/Groove yet again and again. Spolsky makes a great analogy between Mesh and the nigh-incomprehensible Hailstorm.

Personally, I care a lot about synchronization and I believe it's a deeply hard problem. In addition to my personal PIM sync obsessions, synchronization technologies have a huge potential impact on healthcare interoperability. So I think Spolsky has a some good (albeit cruel) points about Architecture astronauts, but he's possibly undervaluing the synchronization problem.

On the other hand, his comments about Google and Microsoft's brain drain is really interesting ...

Architecture astronauts take over - Joel on Software

... Why I really care is that Microsoft is vacuuming up way too many programmers. Between Microsoft, with their shady recruiters making unethical exploding offers to unsuspecting college students, and Google (you're on my radar) paying untenable salaries to kids with more ultimate frisbee experience than Python, whose main job will be to play foosball in the googleplex and walk around trying to get come see the demo code they've just written with their "20% time," doing some kind of, let me guess, cloud-based synchronization... between Microsoft and Google the starting salary for a smart CS grad is inching dangerously close to six figures and these smart kids, the cream of our universities, are working on hopeless and useless architecture astronomy because these companies are like cancers, driven to grow at all cost, even though they can't think of a single useful thing to build for us, but they need another 3000-4000 comp sci grads next week. And dammit foosball doesn't play itself.

Whoa. Only a few years ago American software engineers were a doomed breed; all software design and invention would be outsourced. Now we read that starting salaries for novice, albeit very smart, CS grads are putting a crimp in Spolsky's business plans.

This fits with what I see in my corner of the industry. There's a new appreciation for the value of really smart people, and personnel costs are about to take an unexpected turn in the midst of a recession.

Outsourcing is taking a strange and unpredicted course.

Update 5/20/08: Microsoft Mesh sounds a lot like Microsoft FeedSync. Turns out FeedSync is an element of Mesh, which makes Mesh seem like a Microsoft marketing concept rather than a product concept. That's never happened before ... (joke)

No comments: