I remember hearing stories of how people that worked for Microsoft had no time to work on anything outside of work. The company was not only known for owning all of the IP that an employee came up with, but it expected you to work day and night at your job, until your product was delivered.
Well, it seems that the Redmond giant is looking to change the "Microsoft owns you" perception. According to NYTimes.com, the company is now encouraging and incentivizing its employees to work on developing apps for its Windows Phone platform. The incentive comes in the form of allowing the employees to keep the intellectual property behind the game, and also approximately 70 percent of the revenues.
This is a definite change for Microsoft and one that I hope will be a sign of things to come. The company has been profiled lately for losing a lot of its top engineers. There's no doubt that these engineers were seeking to explore their own creativity, and now this gives them an outlet for it. As for Microsoft, it stands to benefit from a huge injection of apps into its app Marketplace.
My only concern with this new program is how the managers are really going to feel about their employees moonlighting. Microsoft's corporate stance seems solid, but reviews and performance evaluations are based on a number of factors, including your willingness to go "above and beyond". If you put out a great app, the manager might call into question how much time you put into your regular job, if you had enough time to engineer an app.
Google's known for giving an employee the opportunity to spend 20 percent of her time working on a project that she chooses. In the end the engineer doesn't get to keep the revenue from the project, so maybe Microsoft's version will fare better long term?