Here is an article about developers who have chosen Microsoft over Google, and even some developers who worked at Microsoft went to Google, and went back to Microsoft. I looked at this for maybe some hints to why Google needs 200 employees for data centers vs. Microsoft’s 50. I would bet there are ex-Google data center employees working at Microsoft, but it is almost impossible to find them, let alone get them to share their insights.
Working at Google vs. Working at Microsoft
I have theory that Google's big problem is that the company hasn't realized that it isn't a startup anymore
By: Dare Obasanjo
Jul. 2, 2008 09:15 AM
Dare Obasanjo's Blog
Recently I've been bumping into more and more people who've either left Google to come to Microsoft or got offers from both companies and picked Microsoft over Google. I believe this is part of a larger trend especially since I've seen lots of people who left the company for "greener pastures" return in the past year (at least 8 people I know personally have rejoined). However in this blog post I'll stick to talking about people who've chosen Microsoft over Google.
Google software business is divided between producing the "eye candy" - web properties that are designed to amuse and attract people - and the infrastructure required to support them. Some of the web properties are useful (some extremely useful - search), but most of them primarily help people waste time online (blogger, youtube, orkut, etc)
This orientation towards cool, but not necessarilly useful or essential software really affects the way the software engineering is done. Everything is pretty much run by the engineering - PMs and testers are conspicuously absent from the process. While they do exist in theory, there are too few of them to matter.
On one hand, there are beneficial effects - it is easy to ship software quickly…On the other hand, I was using Google software - a lot of it - in the last year, and slick as it is, there's just too much of it that is regularly broken. It seems like every week 10% of all the features are broken in one or the other browser. And it's a different 10% every week - the old bugs are getting fixed, the new ones introduced. This across Blogger, Gmail, Google Docs, Maps, and more
The culture part is very important here - you can spend more time fixing bugs, you can introduce processes to improve things, but it is very, very hard to change the culture. And the culture at Google values "coolness" tremendously, and the quality of service not as much. At least in the places where I worked.
After reading this, maybe Google really does need 200 people per data center to fix all the problems.
And, the article closes with
The fact that Google is having problems retaining employees isn't news, Fortune wrote an article about it just a few months ago. The technology press makes it seem like people are ditching Google for hot startups like FriendFeed and Facebook. However the truth is more nuanced than that. Now that Google is just another big software company, lots of people are comparing it to other big software companies like Microsoft and finding it lacking.