Microsoft speak

So, quite a few people have been raising the issue around the use of the word ‘so’ by people at Microsoft, so I just wanted to pick up on that thread and in fact extend that out to discuss our taxonomies and usage of the English language in general, at Microsoft, right.


So, here’s the thing: do I use the word ‘so’ a little to start a sentence? Absolutely! Do I also like to ask a rhetorical question to make a point? You bet.  So, can I combine both techniques into one.? Bingo. Right, so...Now, there, in fact just now, we used an example of a sequence of at least 3 words that acted as delaminater from one thought to the next.


OK, so there is ‘let me play that back to so I’m sure I got you right’ process in order to make sure I understood you correctly, there is the ‘let me turn that around a second’ phrase as a precursor to me disagreeing with you, and so, last and probably least in this problem-slash-solution set is the ‘thanks - that is really great feedback’ that transforms cleanly to ‘go away’.


Now, occasionally I will start a sentence with ‘now’  - not quite going to the max in the ‘global find and replace’ scenario. i.e. So, ‘so’ for ‘now’ but we will happily swap ‘I’ for ‘we’. Flip the bits, so to speak.  Which is kind of interesting.


So, how do we operationalise this? Well, that is a pretty good question.  Let’s forget for the moment that by embracing and extending standards-based nomclatures to be used in new, and probably inappropriate scenarios, we are keeping our work-peers on their toes. So let’s forget that.  You know, we need that too. So go wac-wac acronyms. Or dub-dub-dub-wac-same.  https, right.


You know, for time to time I’ll get pushback that is recurring: “I’m not completely sure I can support you on this.  You need to re-assign the resource, get level one go-ahead and come back with the mandate in place. Leverage, right? Once the standard process is run - it’s on the share - the next v-dot of the deck is rtw’d on next cycle, wb 21st, please review and loop back. I’ll get the notification, then I can action this and get you resolution on this piece, hopefully at runtime.”

Comments (17)
  1. Ken Cox [MVP - ASP.NET] says:

    Nicely said!

    I’ll bet you work with the group that turned ‘architect’ into a verb and invented the word ‘performant’!

  2. Alex Barnett says:

    Ken, you know what? I actually didn’t realise architect is not strictly a verb (just looked it up on on me. Btw, see Wiki entry on this:

    Preformant thread at:



  3. So, you realize that this type of speak is not restricted to Microsoft, right? I mean I have seen E-Bay developers use this type of speech and also others from Seems like it is localized to your area or social group. Interesting. So, I guess I could write a paper on this for the Journal of Applied Anthropology.

  4. Simon says:

    Now you see, it’s developer speak.

    So, we must all like to collectively shorten our sentences whilst maintaining complexity just marginally above the average persons ‘duhhhhh’ level. Or something.

  5. JD on MX says:

    Tech communications: Funny… Alex Barnett at Microsoft exposes some of the verbal habits we use when talking over business issues… example: "OK, so there is ‘let me play that back to so I’m sure I got you right’ process in…

  6. Phil Renouf says:

    A lot of it looks like stuff that was learned from Project Managers!

  7. Anon says:

    A typical internal Microsoft phrase that annoys me because of its redundancy is "Going forward". As in, "Going forward, we need to send status mail every day". This is probably because I haven’t mastered the art of living my life in reverse, but by default, every planned action of mine is "going forward"…

  8. pl says:

    Laminated thoughts are very difficult to get a grip on, so it’s important to have delaminaters.

  9. Anona says:

    It would be useful if you talked about WHY you or others use it.

  10. Alex Barnett says:

    See, so over time we could easily interop between ‘going forward’ and ‘moving forward’. Rocks.

  11. Alex Barnett says:

    PL, lol.

    Anon (you seem to be everywhere dude), flick the url when done.

  12. Mark says:

    "It’s funny because it’s true"

    I literally laughed out loud at this.

  13. James says:

    The end of the second Matrix movie should give you some alternatives to So.

  14. Scott R says:

    I don’t think that this is Microsoft-speak, though I suppose that someone there may have started this very odd trend. I noticed this just within the last 2-3 years and attended a meeting last night where I heard an exec talk this way which prompted me to do some Google searching to explore the phenomenon and found this site. So does anyone know the real history behind this? I’m dying to know!

  15. About four years ago I wrote a post ( on my old blog ) about some of the verbal tics and language use

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