Microsoft lost engineers to Google over a relocation issue

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Microsoft lost engineers to Google over housing dispute

It’s good to be at the top, and right now, that’s where Apple and Google currently reside. Both technology companies have the finances, resources, developer backing and clout to mold an entire industry to their liking. When it comes to Microsoft, the software giant does possess the former two key components, but it’s been a while since they’ve had the latter two. Without the backing of new prominent developers, Microsoft is quickly losing the clout needed to push particular initiatives. Knowing this, Google isn’t looking to give Microsoft any uncontested opportunities of competition.

Recently, Google yanked the carpet from underneath a potential Microsoft acquisition that would have helped Microsoft gain some much needed engineering prowess. An engineering team out of Aarhus, Denmark, had been in talks with Microsoft about being hired to work for the Redmond software company. The negotiations began after the small engineering team sold off their previous company and were contemplating their next move as a business entity. During their talks, Microsoft, like any normal company would, asked that upon hire, the team move back to Redmond to continue work. The small engineering team drew their line in the sand and said, no.

Enter Google. Google approached the same team but with a different mindset. Instead of trying to incorporate the group, Google only wanted the technology and offered up a much sweeter deal apparently. Instead of asking the team to move from Denmark, Google offered to build an office for the team to work in Aarhus. The group from Aarhus then went on to work on a new JavaScript engine for Chrome. The new engine is supposed to increase the speed at which Chrome runs. These naturally talented engineers got what they wanted, and so did Google. The question remains, however, did Microsoft lose out with this arguable mishandling of negotiations?

Microsoft lost engineers to Google over housing dispute

From the outside looking in, a cynic may see this as Google being “Google-y” and Microsoft being the old curmudgeon of an enterprise mentality. To some extent that could be true. However, there are things to consider and keep in perspective. Did Microsoft need a new JavaScript engine for Spartan? Would the team be able to deliver on whatever project Microsoft was pitching? What would become of the team after the project? It would be foolish to think Microsoft did not weigh the cost vs. benefit of letting a team like this go. Microsoft is looking to cut the fat around their business. With the inevitable dip in licensing revenue, slower PC shipments in the near future, and restructuring a business for the quick moving world of technology, Microsoft is imploring cost cutting measures to sustain a future. Closing offices in Silicon Valley and bringing talent back to their headquarters where developers, engineers, and product teams can all meet on a daily basis, seems to be a priority for the company these days. Opening up an office in Aarhus would arguably be adding some fat to that strategy.

Some may think this is indicative of ‘the’ failing Microsoft mentality. Microsoft being too stubborn of a company to think outside of the box. But when you are a company large enough to create a box, as Microsoft did with Windows and the PC ear, there are much more significant things to consider. As Google increasingly becomes similar to Microsoft in trajectory and execution, investors are expecting to see a much more calculated and less “Google-y” business model from the advertisement and search company.