Why do Microsoft software engineers tend to stay for a long time compared to other tech companies? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Bowen Li, former PM at Microsoft, on Quora:

Why do Microsoft software engineers tend to stay for a long time compared to other tech companies?

The company encourages you to stay in a way that other companies don't:

  • Deep technical track. Many companies say they have a technical track, but in reality past a certain point, engineers are fighting for a very small number of manager roles, so they leave. Microsoft did not feel this way. It felt like they actually had a very real technical track that you could stay on for your entire career.
  • Family friendly. The healthcare/benefits/etc. were the best I've seen. As people grow up/old at Microsoft, the company is very accommodating of people's lives, both culturally and institutionally.
  • Bias towards experience. There is a big bias towards the number of years you have under your belt at Microsoft. Culturally, you have to pay your dues with time. In this regard Microsoft is much more like a traditional large company - GE, Bell, Intel.
  • Slow moving. The years are not equivalent. Let's say you work for a startup for three years. The entire company would have changed drastically and through dozens of iterations in that time. At Microsoft, it is possible that three years would yield only a single release. So ten years might only be a few iterations for some people.
  • Seattle. Seattle itself is very isolated. Outside of the metropolitan area there really isn't anything nearby. The area is family friendly, and there aren't very many tech companies to choose from. If you decide to stay, you're either at Microsoft or one of the other handful of tech companies.
  • Many different teams. Microsoft might be the most varied software company in existence in terms of the products they put out. If you don't like what you're working on, you can move to a different team and it will be completely different.

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Published on: Nov 7, 2017