Holy crap Robert!
I'm a bit stunned actually. I knew the day would come, but didn't think it would happen so soon. Only last week I was London and hearing from Microsoft customers about how you have helped change their perception of Microsoft to be a more trusted company, citing your blog as the primary reason. Someone pointed out that you'd leave one day. But so soon?
Dude, you've also changed the the culture of the company for the better. You pushed the boundaries, and gave the rest of the Microsoft blogging army the courage to get out there, be publicly self-critical, acknowledge our competitors (even compliment them publicly!) and to reach out and really interact with our customers in a non-borgish manner. That's a very big deal indeed.
It wasn't that long ago that we were seen to be this mysterious, evil entity doing nothing but bad (and we still are seen like this by many, but not nearly as many as there would be without your efforts). I joined Microsoft about 4 years ago. Yes, there were some Microsoft bloggers doing some pioneering, but they were very few and far between - Microsoft was mysterious to me before joining. For those not working at Microsoft, I think that mystery has slowly ebbed away a great deal since your blogging while at Microsoft. That matters, because it is the 'mystery' in a pre-blog era of a faceless and anonymous Microsoft that people feared. At least now they can have a go at humans when we get it wrong 🙂 and even get the occasional 'well done' when we get it right. And we can speak out if we feel wronged.
(Robert's cool. Just don't call him an Edge Case.)
Robert, you've been an inspiration to me and to many others here at Microsoft. I thank you for all your help when I asked you all those dumb questions like 'do you think it's ok if I blog this'. And thanks for all those times where I pinged you 'about stuff' and you'd pick up the baton and run with it internally. And I thank you for taking the risks you did. Really.
So I wish you and your family all the best in your move to the Bay area. I look forward to reading about your new adventures! Good luck.