I suppose it’s worth mentioning a bit about how the Longhorn Evangelism team is structured. We’re a pretty small group, only six of us total on the core team. Of those six, three of us are technical evangelists. Our job is to understand the WinFX platform (Dave focusing on Avalon, Karsten on Indigo and Fundamentals, me on WinFS,) and help articulate its value proposition and the key scenarios it enables to both our community of software developers, and our own internal Microsoft employees. If you think that three evangelists seems like a pretty small number, you’re right. That’s why getting our message out to other Microsoft employees is so important.
There are something like 700 Microsoft evangelists and developer architects world-wide, the vast majority of whom are based in field offices, near our customers, and far away from the product teams. There is a clear advantage to having evangelists, who are essentially advocates for developers, located close enough to their constituency to be able to take them out to lunch regularly.
And there’s actually an advantage to having them be far away from the product teams — by and large, the field-based evangelists don’t get too wrapped up into the planning for future product releases. They are there to help you all succeed today, on the strength of .NET 1.1, Windows Server 2003, Office System 2003, etc. A lot of comments in Microsoft blogs berate us Redmond folks for only talking about the future. I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t have that complaint if you had a visit from your local field evangelist. Come to think of it, I wonder why more of them aren’t blogging…
Anyways, as we get travel the road to RTM (a PDC, then a beta, maybe another PDC, maybe another beta…you know how it goes ;), it becomes increasingly important to make sure our field evangelists are getting the scoop on Longhorn and WinFX. Because we’re pretty certain that Dave, Karsten and I can’t quite manage to personally reach out to each of the thousands of ISVs, solution providers, system integrators, web site operators, etc, who want to learn more about Longhorn.
There are also a number of other evangelists based in Redmond, I’d guess somewhere in the low hundreds. Some of them are focused on specific technologies, like Whidbey, or Windows Media Center. Others are focused on specific market segments like manufacturing, or healthcare. There are another set of folks entirely focused on enterprise IT. All of them need to be up to speed on Longhorn as well, and there’s no way they can each get an hour with each of the product teams building components of Longhorn.
So the technical evangelists on the Longhorn team do our best to keep close to the product team, figure out a compelling, concise…well, compelling at least 😉 way to explain what they’re up to, and then share that with the rest of Microsoft and our developer community.
The rest of our team, by the way, is made up of Ray and Craig, our business evangelists, and Steve, our director. Ray and Craig focus on making a clear business proposition for why it’s worth spending time writing Longhorn-specific code. They also handle the account relationship side of things, working to get partners like Adobe and Amazon to join us on stage at the PDC. Steve, far from being a pointy-haired boss, takes care of the little things like overseeing the entire set of keynotes, sessions, labs, meals and more from PDC.
A close partner of ours is Carter Maslan. He’s a peer of Steve’s, and is focused on coordinating evangelism to the vertical segments I mentioned earlier. Carter is a one-man-band of technical evangelist, business evangelist, and demo lord, which I suppose is why he’s allowed to live in the Bay Area and work out of the sunny Mountain View campus, while the rest of us are Redmond.
Speaking of demos, we also work closely with Robert Hess’s team. When he’s not moonlighting as host of The .NET Show, Robert works with a team of developers who help us prototype new applications on Longhorn.
We have another partner team, the one that Scoble’s on, but since they haven’t blogged much about what their role is, I won’t spoil the surprise here.
For more about my background, see my first blog post.