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Microsoft gets bad rap from former employee

An ex-worker vents frustration with his old company over what he sees as numerous layers of management and nonstop, unproductive meetings.

Microsoft is taking it on the chin from a former employee.

In a TechCrunch column entitled "Frustration, Disappointment And Apathy: My Years At Microsoft," Max Zachariades (who blogs under the name Max Zografos) offered his own no-holds-barred opinion of his former employer.

Zachariades' tale starts off promising enough back in 2007, with him pleased and proud to be working for the software giant, even scoring a Gold Star within the first year. But after suggesting that some of the money devoted toward employee gifts and gadgets be diverted to charities, his Gold Star status apparently began going downhill from there.

His complaints about the company slowly turn his once-happy job into a frustrating chore.

Microsoft declined CNET's request for comment on Zachariades' version of events.

The constant flow of meetings is at the top of Zachariades' hit list. Certainly, such meetings are a fact of life at any large organization. But Zachariades sees them more as a way to avoid decisions rather than as a way to make them.

"Dig a bit deeper and you'll realize that Microsoft meetings are a way to diffuse and evade responsibility for decisions," he wrote. "Yes -- let's spend weeks on weeks 'reviewing with stakeholders.' It's so much safer [than] taking swift decisions ourselves. The company places no trust on the individual to make the right decision on their own."

Next on Zachariades' list of gripes are the seemingly infinite layers of Microsoft management, which he believes are also bogging down the company.

"Large companies have overheads, a necessary evil, you say," Zachariades wrote. "Overheads need to be managed. And managed they are: Group Managers, Program managers, General managers, together with 'Senior' flavors of those and a whole new breed of directors, stakeholders, business owners, relationship leads coupled with their own countless derivatives."

As Zachariades voiced his opinions to the higher-ups at Microsoft, he says that he was branded a rebel and stripped of any planned promotions. A critical e-mail to a corporate vice president earlier this year was apparently the final straw for the company as he found himself fired a few hours later.

Several commenters are applauding him for spilling the corporate beans. Others say these complaints have been hurled against Microsoft before and that this is all a fact of life at any corporation. And several feel it was inappropriate and even professional suicide for him to air his former company's dirty laundry in public.

So, is what Zachariades saw inevitable in any supersized company? And what, if anything, can companies stuck in a rut do to recapture their former leanness and meanness?

Updated 9:15 a.m. PT with response from Microsoft.