Today is my one-year anniversary at Microsoft. There have been a lot of changes for me in the last year and I’ve learned a lot. So I thought I would be reflective and share some my experiences, observations, and thoughts of the past year here.
Okay, it’s true, there are a lot of guys here – slightly more men than women from what I’ve observed. But all in all, Microsoft is a very diverse place. As you walk through the halls or cafeteria, you’ll hear several different languages being spoken and see such a wide range of types of people. It’s kind of like being at a gathering of the Galatic Senate in Star Wars (or Starfleet for you Trekkies.) It is both amazing and humbling to work at a place that attracts some of the smartest people from all over the world.
Microsofies (that’s what we’re called, apparently) use our competitors’ products – openly and proudly. I know a bunch of people who have iPhones – and all the internets that go along with it. People here use FireFox and Macs. And, to be honest, Google seems to index this blog a heck of a lot faster than Live Search does. And, it turns out it’s more than okay to use and like our competitors’ products. The attitude seems to be that “I’ll use the Microsoft version when Microsoft makes the better version.”
Of course, we do use our own products – and complain loudly about them when they don’t work like we want them to. Last night I had dinner with friends and we tried to come up with a Microsoft product that didn’t get picked on internally. The winners were OneNote and Notepad. Those of my friends who don’t have an iPhone have smart phones running Windows Mobile. And, for all the great features of the phone that make me more productive and on-schedule, the thing that sticks out most in my head is that phantom alarm bug! (largely because it has woken me up early the past two days). I really love the new Zune hardware and firmware, but internally users are up in arms at the fact that it lacks clock. (And, no, it isn’t going to get one any time soon).
The complaining is largely because we want Microsoft to have the best products. There distribution lists (DLs) that we can join for just about every product available and discuss what works and what doesn’t work – even (or especially) if you aren’t on that product team. Also, there’s this term here called “dogfooding” which means using our own products before they are released to the world as a beta or CTP (community technology preview). Of course, sometimes dogfooding is just as good as it sounds (I’m talking about you, IE8!). The whole point of this of course is to release the best products that we can.
Yes, I have managed to get outside the walls of Microsoft since I moved here a year ago and I think I might be becoming an actual Seattleite. I’ve made some really great friends here, despite the famed Seattle Freeze. I’ve learned to snowboard and love it. I’ve learned to appreciate beer. I can drink lattes without sugar now. I’m now an REI member. I have played Xbox and have my very own gamertag. And, it took a really long time, but eventually I did obtain both a Washington license plate and driver’s license.
When I started this blog a year ago, I had no readers. Last month, it got more than 49,000 hits (okay, usually it averages somewhere around 20,000 but then I went and mentioned the great emulator give-away of 2008). It’s been an interesting year. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned – maybe for more code examples, maybe for more musings. Who knows.