The Windows 8.1 ship-it awards were yellow

Microsoft has a tradition of giving an award to each member of a team when their product ships. The mechanics of this is that when you ship your first product, you get an award-like thing with blank spaces for metal plates. plus a metal plate that goes into one of the blank spaces. For each subsequent product, you get another metal plate to add to your award. When all the spaces are full, you get a new award.

So it's like a fancy loyalty punch card, I guess.

Yes, the terminology is somewhat confusing. The metal plate is called an award, and so is the monument that you attach them to.

Anyway, the award for Windows 8.1 had a Windows logo on it, colored yellow.

Even though Windows 8.1's code name was Blue.

Nobody ever explained that.

Comments (35)
  1. Brian_EE says:

    What is the criteria for receiving the award? Do you have to still be a member of the team when the product actually ships? What if someone worked on the product for several years but transitioned to another team/department 2 months before the product shipped? Do they get an award? What about the new-hire that starts a week before ship?

    I ask because this is a horribly managed process at my employer, where you have to be on the right distribution list at the right time, regardless of the effort you put into getting The-Thing™ to production.

    1. skSdnW says:

      …and how big does the milestone have to be? Was there an award for Win8.1 Update 1? Win10 Anniversary Update?

    2. Boris says:

      But why would you spend so much time debugging awards? Either one is competent and receives a promotion and/or more and more work, or one isn’t. One can win an award and then be gone in a few months.

      1. Brian_EE says:

        Boris – The human psyche isn’t any different than a lot of other animals. Most do well in an environment of reward and praise (deserved, that is). Yes, paycheck is a “reward” for doing your job, but at least here in the United States, engineers are salaried professionals who don’t get paid overtime. So if I work late nights and weekends to help make a product ship date that is important to the company in terms of market position and/or revenue, a show of appreciation (even if it is a token) goes a long way to keeping morale up and employees happy.

        And yes, a promotion is good, but you can’t promote everyone every year. Businesses usually have a set distribution of people at the various levels. Sometimes to get promoted, you have to wait for a more senior colleague to get promoted or leave to make an opening, and then you’re competing with others who are also due/overdue for a promotion.

        1. MacIn173 says:

          ” but at least here in the United States, engineers are salaried professionals who don’t get paid overtime.” It is quite funny. You’re saying it like it is some sort of advantage – to be not paid for doing extra work.

    3. > What is the criteria for receiving the award?

      It varies based on the department of Microsoft and the product. _If_ I recall correctly, for Windows 8 (which _did_ get a blue Windows logo, funnily enough), the criteria were very simple. If you were employed in the Windows division on such-and-such a date, which was a short time before Windows 8 RTM, then and only then you got the Ship-It plate.

      An alternative is to try to make a value judgment about how much you contributed to the product, like Raymond discusses in his linked TechNet article. The downside of that is that covert biases can manifest themselves more easily, because the criteria are no longer simple and objective.

      Ultimately, the executive in charge of the division has to figure out what is most fair for her team; it’s one of the decisions that seems trivial, but because it’s so trivial, everyone feels qualified to express their opinion and so there can be chaos and/or long-simmering resentment.

  2. Boris says:

    But why would one get an award for doing one’s job? I assume shipping isn’t some kind of voluntary activity only the adventurous participate in?

    1. Nick says:

      Always celebrate milestones. Shipping anything is a milestone, shipping a major update to a major product is a pretty big one. Not celebrating milestones makes people feel unappreciated, which kills morale, which destroys productivity.

      1. Boris says:

        But an award isn’t proof of appreciation, especially if it is given to everyone in a particular group. Proof is more work, an unexpected bonus or a promotion.

        1. Nick says:

          This type of appreciation is for everyone on the broad team, the thing you’re talking about is individual or small-team. They’re both appreciation. An analogue would be a sports team winning a championship: everyone involved gets a ring, but the best contributors get rewarded with bonuses and renegotiated contracts (or occasionally traded for value but sports business is weird).

        2. smf says:

          “Proof is more work, an unexpected bonus or a promotion.”

          No, that is your job. The award is something you can put on your mantle piece, to remind you of your achievement and show off to your friends.

          1. Boris says:

            The point is that a piece of metal is easily given. A bonus, more responsibility or a promotion is not.

          2. MacIn173 says:

            But that is not an award. It is just a memorable sign, because it doesn’t have any value. The only thing that can be treated as an award is the one that has either material or mental value. Kind of thing given to all people in a group just doing their job hasn’t any moral value and hence can’t be an award imho.

    2. guest says:

      Sure, “shipping” isn’t a voluntary activity that only the adventurous participate in. But “sticking around to ship more” is. I think the loyalty punch card analogy is also appropriate. All customers get it, you don’t get any special treatment. But nevertheless it is an incentive for you to come back for more.

      1. Boris says:

        Yes, I can see how this can easily turn into a competition over who’s going to collect the most metal plates. You wouldn’t want to be left with only one for everyone to see. Or you can choose not to participate in the awards at all, which is probably what I would do. It just seems like a gimmick in place of real feedback.

        1. smf says:

          “Or you can choose not to participate in the awards at all, which is probably what I would do.”

          If you work at Microsoft then you’re automatically participating, if you refuse to accept the award then you’re still participating. You just want the bigger reward of being able to tell people you didn’t accept it.

          “It just seems like a gimmick in place of real feedback.”

          You sound like the type of person who doesn’t take photos on holiday. I wouldn’t force you to, but you shouldn’t talk down to the people who do. Nobody said it was in place of real feedback, you made that up yourself.

          1. MacIn173 says:

            No, the person who called it “award” did.

          2. MacIn173 says:

            ” if you refuse to accept the award then you’re still participating. You just want the bigger reward of being able to tell people you didn’t accept it.”
            It sounds just ridiculous, tbh. And I can reply to you using your own words: noone ever told that some would refuse to be able to show off by telling everyone about it, you made that up yourself. It is about your own pride, not about others opinion.

  3. Karellen says:

    I’m guessing the person who thought that up was a Monty Python fan. From Holy Grail:

    Bridgekeeper: Stop. What… is your name?
    Sir Galahad: Sir Galahad of Camelot.
    Bridgekeeper: What… is your quest?
    Galahad: I seek the Grail.
    Bridgekeeper: What… is your favourite colour?
    Sir Galahad: Blue-no! [he is also thrown over the edge] YEELLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!

  4. SimonRev says:

    I remember once receiving a T-shirt for the design team of a product that we shipped. However the only thing I had done was step in at and help test during the final few days (I was briefly between projects, so it made sense for me to help out there). I was too embarrassed to ever wear the shirt because I felt it devalued the real efforts made by the core team members.

  5. guest says:

    Isn’t it because the Windows 8 Ship-it awards were blue? Then obviously they had to use something different for Windows 8.1. Nobody likes having two (almost) identical stickers.

  6. jon says:

    It’s a good thing that “shipping” is the only criteria, because no one would have one an award for Windows 8 based on merit.

  7. alegr1 says:

    It would make more sense if the award looked like a gilded polished turd.

    1. smf says:

      Haters gonna hate.

      Windows 8.1 was great, Windows 10 is better.

      1. Darran Rowe says:

        Yeah, posts like this make me sad. So much hatred thrown around for something that they didn’t like. Why all the hatred so that even now people still have to post bad things.
        Seriously, with the way people post, you end up thinking that Windows 8.1 did something more sinister to them than just existed. “I saw the driver of the car who knocked down my poochy and kept driving, it was Windows 8.1.”

        1. smf says:

          When someone makes it socially acceptable to hate something, whether it’s specific versions of Windows or Mexicans, then people with issues will latch onto it.

          It’s socially acceptable to hate Microsoft, so every decision they make is to be ridiculed. Apple on the other hand are loved and if the new iPhone had a spike that shot out and pierced your brain then people would be defending them.

          1. alegr1 says:

            I don’t hate Microsoft per se; after all, writing drivers for Windows pays my bills, but when I have to deal with Windows annoyances every day, it brings so much aggravation. For example, do you know that if you install a fresh copy of Windows 7 SP1 and run Windows Update, it will spend two full days on full CPU usage before it actually figures out which updates to install?

          2. Darran Rowe says:

            I actually didn’t know that, because when I did it last month, Windows update was finished in two hours.
            I also do a lot of administrating Windows networks and systems, and I don’t end up anywhere near aggravated.

          3. alegr1 says:

            Was your fresh installation fetching updates from Microsoft server or from your local domain update server?

          4. Darran Rowe says:

            It was the Microsoft update servers.
            It was a favour to a less technical friend, and there were a few annoying things about that install, and the update part wasn’t it.
            What I would normally do is keep a copy of Windows and update the WIM file regularly with some of the most needed updates. But what happened is that this computer didn’t like the USB drives we had around and wouldn’t boot off of them. So I ended up having to use a DVD.

      2. alegr1 says:

        Sure, 8.1 (2012R2) become usable, this is why I say “gilded” and “polished”.

  8. Richard says:

    Blue + Yellow light is a metamer of White, so it makes perfect sense.
    Assuming anyone knows about color metamers, anyway.

    – Most “white” LEDs work this way, a blue LED pumps a yellow phosphor. The better ones have a broader-spectrum yellow phosphor.

    1. smf says:

      The superior ones use red and green phosphor.

      1. Richard says:

        There are no LEDs at all that use Red or Green phosphors. I suspect you’re thinking of triphosphor fluorescent lamps, a very different technology indeed.

        Red and Green LEDs are the two easiest colors to make directly (due to quantum), are there are a few lamps using a mix of Red, Green and Blue LEDs to create “white” light. Those seem to have fallen out of favor in the last year or so, replaced by Blue with Yellow phosphor and an extra Red LED – to bring out the red in most skin color.
        Some of those even get “warmer” (more red) as you dim them, which is rather nice :)

        Then there is the literal multi-myriad of effect lamps using independently-controlled RGB LEDs, which you’ll see on the TV every day.

  9. cheong00 says:

    So there are four colors on current Microsoft logo.

    I wonder whether there were “award” that is red or green in color.

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