Eleven years ago today I started at Microsoft, working in the SDS (Systems Developer Support) team within PSS (Product Support Services) in Reading, UK. So much has changed over the last eleven years! When I got started we were still supporting C7 which shipped with the first implementation of MFC (not even Visual C++!!!), Fortran!! (yes, Microsoft had a Fortran product), MASM, 16-bit application development on Windows 3.x and MS-DOS development, and Windows 95 wasn’t yet shipping. Microsoft had around 15,000 employees world-wide (we’re closer to 60,000 today).
Developer Support was IMHO one of the best places to get started at Microsoft – handling developer questions was great, you never knew what was going to come next, calls ranging from implementing TSR’s on MS-DOS, Windows application development, drivers, language, tools, porting of MS-DOS applications to Windows, what a blast! – we were typically “on the phone” for a half day, and then spent the rest of the day researching issues, or coding up samples for customers – a typical shift would have you taking around 30 customer issues, most of which could be resolved on the phone. Just to give you some idea how things have changed in 11 years, customers would send code samples to PSS on floppy disc, or fax the code samples into PSS, no-one had e-mail – If an answer to a customer question existed on the Microsoft Knowledge Base we would typically fax it to the customer (again, most customers didn’t have e-mail). Most product documentation was still produced as printed books rather than “online” documentation. Being in developer support through the release of Windows 95, and Windows 2000 as well as the associated development tools, Visual C++, and Visual Studio was a great experience.
Windows CE didn’t exist as a shipping product in 1994 (though was in development), the first released product was still two years out, this was the Handheld PC 1.0 (I waited in line for a couple of hours at the PDC in 1996 in San Diego to purchase an H/PC 1.0 product) and an embedded release of Windows CE wasn’t going to ship for another four years (Windows CE 2.0).
Here’s wondering what the next 11 years are going to bring.