Why Microsoft Employees Should Own a Mac

Wow.  Lots and lots of hits on my last post about Apple’s Boot Camp software that allows Windows XP to be installed on the new Intel Macs.  I guess my comment implying that I had MacBook envy (I wish my computer was lighter and better looking!) really got a chuckle out some of you.  When I read through some of the posts mentioning the “Microsoft reaction” to Boot Camp, I was really surprised to see it mentioned that Microsoft employees were “coming out of the woodwork” and “admitting” that they owned Macs.

Wow…”admitting”?  Doesn’t that imply that we believe we are doing something bad by owning a Mac?  Hmm…I really hope that the powers-that-be don’t think so, because I’ll “admit” right here that I own an iMac, running Mac OS X (Tiger).  Yep.  I’m typing this from my Toshiba tablet, but my Mac’s running at home, as we speak.  I check my email on it sometimes.  Sometimes I blog from it.  I’ve even used iPhoto to get pictures off of my camera, and I’m looking to buy a long USB-to-MIDI cable so I can hook up my electric piano and use it with Garageband.  Heck, you have me—I even have Xcode installed!  And Eclipse!  And I work for Microsoft—on the Visual Studio team!

Wow, it feels good to get that off my chest.  J  Now, honestly, sometimes I like using my Mac.  It looks all clean and squishy.  The glossy, candy-blue interface is really fun to look at.  Garageband is probably the most fun I’ve had with a piece of software since I played with Logo in elementary school.  But…I don’t use a Mac because I’m “sick” of Windows, or afraid of spyware or viruses, or want to bite the hand that feeds me.

I own a Mac because, as a Microsoft employee, I should.  I should use competitors’ products.  Everyone should.  Nothing says “arrogant” more than believing that Microsoft’s stuff is so good that there’s nothing to learn from our competitors, and shouldn’t see what they are doing really well (or really poorly.)  By using Apple products, I discovered Apple’s communities.  I’ve used Apple’s forums (they call them “discussions”—think different.)  There are some things they do that we could really learn from.  There are also some things they do that I would never, ever want to do with our site.  Getting help in Visual Studio is, in my opinion, much easier than it is in Xcode.  How would I know though if I didn’t take a peek?

Yea, I “dogfood” Microsoft stuff at home too.  Right next to my iMac is a home-built Media Center PC.  It’s (by far) the most useful computer I’ve ever owned.  Under my TV is my Xbox 360 (streaming my Media Center TV shows…)  It’s an awesome system—and you know what?  I like it quite a bit better than Front Row, Apple’s Media Center-ish application.  How do I know though?

Because I used it—and admitted that I do.  🙂

Comments (24)

  1. Tony Frey says:

    How nice to see an educated post about Macs and Windows at the same time.  With folks like you, it’s no wonder VS rocks.

  2. hippietim says:

    I’ve got an iPod.  It rocks.  Does that count?

    I’ve thought about buying a Mac many, many times.  As a musician Macs have always had an appeal because of the software availability on the Mac for recording.  I’ve literally been in Apple stores many times over the years and always walked out empty handed.  One thing that always stopped me was the price/performance ratio.  At least in the past, Macs were way too expensive for what you got.  I’ve not priced them in a while so maybe that’s improved.  But at the same time the software for the PC has improved to the point where it doesn’t matter either way.  So I’ve opted to work with Windows software so I can spend my precious spare time to make music with a familiar system rather than having to relearn my tools just to make music.

    I don’t think me being a Microsoft employee means I should have a Mac at home.  I think I should have whatever I want or need at home.  I don’t think it has anything to do with arrogance.  I don’t make purchases for my home based on how much I might learn from the competition.  Sorry, but that’s a pretty silly reason.  I suppose if you have a lot of expendable cash and just like to fool with technology endlessly at home then it makes sense.  I prefer to buy stuff that does what I want/need for a price I am comfortable with.  Hence the iPod.  And my PCs.  And my PS/2.  And my GameCube.  And my XBox.  

  3. It’s like "yeah there are refrigerators running an embedded Windows operating system but I don’t know what that’s like because we use the competitors refrigator to see what nice features they implement".

    Imho you guys should dogfood your own software 24/7 only that way you would be confronted with the annoying stuff in different scenarios.

  4. MSDN Archive says:

    Why not use both?  Shouldn’t somebody who’s writing a piece of software be an expert on the competitor’s software as well?  Should Whirlpool engineers never use a Frigidare?  Should Toyota employees have never drive a Civic?  Should Google employees never use Yahoo?

    And trust me–all day we use pretty much nothing but Microsoft software here at work–I’m using IE 7 right now and have Outlook 2007 checking my mail in the background, as I’m writing a spec using Word 2007 and my Windows Mobile 5 smartphone is beeping at me for missing a phone call.  🙂

  5. Ohad Israeli says:

    I was in a convention not so long ago and the presenter who was MS employee used a MAC notebook for presenting… the organizers (MS) where trying very hard to cover the apple lamp on the notebook cover so no one will see he was using a MAC 🙂

  6. I found this post over on the MSDN blogs entitled Why Microsoft Employees should own Macs, and i agree…

  7. Rosyna says:

    Well, it makes perfect sense you’d have a mac with Xcode and Eclipse installed. You work on a competing product and it’d make sense that you’d want to see what your competitors do. Perhaps to implement some features the others have, or something else.

    However, there is nothing of value to steal from Xcode. It’s a horrid IDE that could learn a lot from Visual Studio’s. in fact, Apple should stop trying to copy CodeWarrior’s IDE and try getting some of the good features from VS’s.

  8. Martin Spedding says:

    I agree with you completely, that is why I own a Mac Mini and I have installed and used Linux distributions. It allows me to form an opinion and when talking to customers to have an informed discussion.

    Though I like the Apple hardware I found the operating system quite confusing to use and the learning curve much steeper than I expected. It also made realise the sense in decision making process in Vista of evolving the interface rather than creating something completely different. My impression with the Mac is that it is in control  and allowing me to do what it thinks I should do where as with Windows I feel like I am in control.

    Having tried to install simple applications on Linux and the dependency hell made me come to appreciate the simplicity of installing software on pcs and also on Macs.

    So I definitely agree go out and be informed, there are too many people who blindly follow their "technical" religion.

  9. I agree to use both products. But using Visual Studio at work and Eclipse at home for example I find so wrong. The reason is that we are talking about two completely different environments and how would you know that there aren’t some "issues" with Visual Studio in the Home environment that you wouldn’t have at work. This is merely an example.

    If you are an engineer on the Visual Studio team you shouldn’t be worrying about the competitors development environments to see what they come up. There should be like a said a specialized team that does nothing but that.

  10. Guess not. But now in the post boot camp days they’ll hopefully end up on our internal ordering website…

  11. Выясняется, что у многих сотрудников дома стоит Apple. Некоторые даже не стесняю

  12. I use a tablet PC, A WinXP with AMD 64X2 as main work computer also running beta Office 2007 and loving it and MaC Mini Duo Core to test websites with Mac Browsers and testing ease of use in creating podcasts with GarageBand verus Windows apps. I think the dual boot and virtual machine capability on OSX will encourage more Windows users to explore Mac’s. I would like to the ability to run OSX on fast Standard Intel hardware without downloading patches from a talented hacker in Russia. I also love my video Ipod after trying several IRIVER and Creative MP3 players. I hope Microsoft pays attention and emulates some of the ease of use of Itunes Ipod. I also tried Treo 650 and hated it and am considering TREO 700 or Motorola Q phone to replace carrying Dell Axim X51v and my EVDO Sanyo cellphone. All these experiments with variuos operating systems have taught me what works in various situations to accomplish specific tasks. I really would love a instant boot feature in Vista for my tablet PC so I can turn it on quickly to jot a note or schedule an appointment or enter a new contact’s phone number. Thanks for sharing your experience and starting a conversation about creating best of breed software that just works to get something done with a minimum of friction for the end user.

  13. MSDN Archive says:

    These are great comments, and I have to say that I’m really glad that this didn’t become a Windows v. Mac thread–looks like both platforms have some strengths…and also proves that people who are reading this blog are technology junkies just like me… 🙂

  14. Anonymous Microsoft worker says:


    Just kidding, good stuff man.  I use a Mac to.

  15. B says:

    You mean Apple isn’t a partner?  I could have sworn that Microsoft made an Office suite and virtual machine for the Mac platform.

    It’s too bad that Microsoft and Apple have to be competitors.  I’d sure like to use Visual Studio on a Mac.

  16. MSDN Archive says:

    Microsoft and Apple are partners in some things (Microsoft’s Apple #1 3rd party software developer), and competitors in others, especially in platforms.  Same is true with lots of other companies–Sony’s a great OEM Windows manufacturer, but we compete against them in video games…IBM is a big competitor in the enterprise space, but they make the CPU for the Xbox 360, etc…

  17. Kyle Hamilton says:

    Why doesn’t MS issue a release of the VS IDE for OSX?  (For that matter, why doesn’t MS make VS multi-backend/multi-platform easy?)

    I mean, OSX’s compiler chain is GCC.  I could probably hack up some frontends to the GCC compiler toolchain using VS’s syntax, and use VS’s IDE to generate universal binaries — but why?  Why should I have to?  The sorry state of all the IDEs out there for X and OSX (and I include Eclipse in this assessment) makes me code in the dark ages — like 1970s-era text editing, makefiles, make, compiling, linking, and all that.

    Then again, why doesn’t MS actually support its POSIX layer?

  18. Chris says:

    "What knows he of England who only England knows" – Rudyard Kipling

    In addition to learning about a competitor, I think that using OS X would help Microsoft developers learn, or at least notice, things about Windows.  When you use one OS all the time, certain things just fade into the background.  You tend not to realize how annoying things in an OS are when you don’t have any other perspective.  Conversely you tend not to realize how well done certain things are when you don’t have any basis for comparison.  

    In general I wouldn’t trust anyone’s opinion of an OS, or of what’s good and bad in a particular OS, if that’s the only one they use.

  19. Jim Glass Jr says:

    As an artist, musician actually, the Apple platform has a lot of appeal. But like others have said, the cost gives one pause. I’ve always picked the OS I use because of the numbers of people who use it. It makes it easier for me to take advantage of others’ work.  ;o)

    Now if Apple was to specialize, such as creating software for handicapped people… Well, then I might subsidize them and test the OS more. But there’s really no money in that.

  20. Good points 🙂

    i do most of my work on windows, that said i do have an intel mac mini on order 😉

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