Time to move on

Next week will be my last at Microsoft. It’s just shy of eight years ago, that I came to the US from Northern Ireland, to work as a Programmer/Writer for the Visual C++ team. I worked on the ATL and MFC documentation, and to be honest – and this is something that is probably apparent if you read the ATL documentation – I never really completely understood it. Class factories? COM? Blegh! No thanks. That’s not me. So I was relieved when I moved onto the Visual C# team, where I learnt all about managed code (thanks, Sam A.!) and was able to work on the C# docs (thanks, Michael B.!), and write the C# Express doc set (thanks Dan F.!) Of course I had some great editors who make it all make a little more sense (thanks Sean M. and Michelle F.!)

Then, two or more years ago, I finally was able to move to the Mobile Devices team. Mobile Devices are why I wanted to work at Microsoft. When I first saw the very early Handheld PCs (such as the Philip’s Velo 1, and other HP devices) I was hooked. I had to learn more!  So I pestered the contacts I had at Microsoft to get the tools (thanks Kurt S.!) which cost a lot of money in those days – sadly, we’ve moved away from the free tools again – and taught myself Win32 programming (thanks Doug Boling!).

Eventually I knew enough to write some software, which I sold through Handango (an astronomy program called “Pocket Universe” was my top selling application) and was able to do this full-time, until that is, I moved to the US to work for Microsoft.

So, here I am in the Windows Mobile division, working as a Senior Content Project Manager (I love the “Senior” part of the title – I just turned 40 last month, so it definitely makes me feel old), and I’ve been working on the Windows Mobile  SDK documentation for most of that time.  Now I’m winding down on that project, and I feel pretty good about the work I managed to do here, and the changes and (hopefully) improvements I was able to influence.

For personal reasons, I’m now planning on returning to N. Ireland. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a position within the Microsoft Empire in Ireland or the UK, and I’m sad to leave after all this time, but I have excellent reasons for going. Hopefully I'll find an interesting job in Dublin perhaps.

Microsoft is certainly an interesting company to work for. Before I came here, I was scared of the Evil Empire image, and hopeful that I would become a multi-millionaire within a few years. I was wrong on both counts J

Before I go, I may write some more on what it’s like to work here: feel free to ask me in the comments if you have anything specific on your mind. I think it might be interesting to share a few insights and opinions in case you were thinking of coming to work here. Obviously I think it’s a great place to work – and like anywhere, it has its challenges – but if you want to make a difference, learn a lot, and interact with great people I can definitely recommend it.

Comments (5)
  1. Kevin Daly says:

    You wrote Pocket Universe?

    That was a very nice piece of work.

  2. MSDN Archive says:

    Very kind of you to say so. It was my first real Windows application – so it took more than a year to write 😉

  3. Jimbo says:

    Good luck John, I moved to Florida in 1999 from N. Ireland – I hope you can speak Polish!  🙂

  4. DanielMoth says:

    Good luck John! Since you are offering answers to questions, here is one: How on earth did you manage to leave Europe and go to a place where you can only get 15 days holiday/vacation? 😉

  5. MSDN Archive says:

    Haha, thanks Daniel! Yes, US holiday leave – er, vacation time? I’m still not sure what they call it – sounds tiny. However, I’ve been here long enough to get four weeks, with extra floating holidays.. I rarely felt that I didn’t have enough, but that might say more about my work-life balance than anything else 😉

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