Some internal staff and trusted close friends have known for some time, but I’ve resigned from Microsoft as a Rich Platforms Product Manager. It was a decision that i made simply due to the fact that I just wanted to be home, and as much as the experience on Microsoft Campus has been an enormous educational experience for me, it’s been one that has had both ups and downs.
Why did I resign?
No real particular reason, in the end it was over something trivial and minor, nothing to get all gossipy over as the real core of the reason was that moving to a foreign country with my family was simply a lot of tax to pay in terms of comfort zone. The sacrifice was made willingly but in the end, working for one of the biggest software companies in the world wasn’t a good enough reason to stay, and it was a situation where you had to really invest into living in the United States and that for me mainly was just a weird and surreal experience.
What did you actually do?
You know, I get this question a lot sometimes I come up with a variety of answers. If I look back on my year inside Microsoft head quarters, I’ve not really pegged down what my job was, as i kind of did a lot of things, small things that probably most will never really be able to measure the impact on. I think what i did the most however was connect the community to the various staff within Microsoft (as well as some planning and marketing stuff), but that’s what I'm the most proudest of.
I made sure folks were hooked into the right people to pitch their ideas, wish lists, bugs and even criticism.
I’ve also been quite raw and honest with folks around how Microsoft is as a company, as all to often i see a lot of perfection based expectations placed on Microsoft and I simply have to reset these expectations a little, as in the end, we’re just a company that makes software – just like you. The difference between the software company down the road and ours is that we had a couple of really smart guys figure out that the world needed desktops on every machine. They made billions from it in the end, and a lot of other folks in this company have also been wealthy & successful as a result.
Where to Next?
I’ll blog about that some more once some details are worked out (next blog post in a few days), suffice to say, I’ll be still in the thick of the Silverlight community and I plan on really hunkering down and doing some projects that I’ve been itching to produce for a product I've devoted over 3 years into. I think Silverlight is one of Microsoft’s first example of us as a company trying something new and innovative and it is innovative, despite what Adobe staffers may moan about – I’ve been using their products since their birth, so when i see their childish crap at MAX 2010, i just roll my eyes and simply say “grow up, its been done, move on”.
What i will say is this, I’ll be back home in Brisbane Australia where I plan on building a huge house (my biggest house ever, 800m2) and getting back to Moto-x riding (damn I miss my dirt bike). I’m also going to be doing a lot of UX Evangelism (No I'm not working for Microsoft Australia) for RIA overall (RIAGENIC.COM is my new host of goodness).
What do you plan on doing with Silverlight?
I think right now, the world is in a spot of trouble with RIA. It’s probably the one time overall where we really need to stop the brand politics and focus on getting the concept of RIA out there in the wild more. It doesn't really matter if you’re using a plug-in or even HTML5, it really comes back to the principles of User Experience. I think there is way to many hacks out there preaching the concept of UX and not really sitting down and fully digesting it that or too many folks are pushing their brand first and UX second. It should be the other way around, you figure out what your UX story should be and then figure out which technology fits your team or companies future.
The technology part will dovetail into place once you figure that out.
Overall though i think there is a confidence issue with Silverlight, I get asked all to often “where do i start to learn Silverlight” and i typically point them to Silverlight.net and wish them good luck. Well, next year I plan on rolling up my sleeves more and focusing in on the on-ramping of Silverlight, help folks “get it” more, mainly educate them on why it exists, where it is going and how they can start. I’m doing it also with other technologies as well, and I plan on being more open and to the point around this topic.
I’ve seen a lot in the last 3 years, more than I care to know and I can honestly say this – Adobe, Microsoft, Google, Sun etc are all the same and share similar behavior patterns. At times you see the bad but you at times ignore the good, or you see only the bad and the good is hidden – that or the bad is hidden and all you see is the good.
The inside stories i could tell would put me in legal hot water, but suffice to say, I’ve lead an interesting life in the last 3 years and Microsoft definitely is not the one folks should point fingers at as much as folks would argue.
Our guys do good work, they often don’t get as much credit for it as I'd like and the ones that often do some really stupid things, at times hurt a lot of good in Microsoft. It’s the price you really pay for having around 80,000+ employees. Sometimes folks screw-up and we all pay the tax for it as a collective punishment.
RIAGENIC.COM is where my new home will be.
I’m frantically trying to move what i call “the greatest hits” from this blog and put them onto my new blog over at riagenic.com - (Don’t worry you don’t need to update your RSS feeds as this one is portable). I urge you to subscribe to my RSS feed if you haven’t already done so.
I’m humbled by the traffic I get with this blog, and I’m in the top 100 bloggers at Microsoft and i think i got this much success in blogging for speaking raw honest truth, despite at times the internal heat i used to get from it. That’s ok, as in the end it’s about walking up to people i know in the industry and be able to tell them with a straight face what the good and bad is. Nothing is ever perfect, and Silverlight, Flash, AIR, FLEX, WPF etc all have big flaws as well as big plusses.
People who have inspired you?
Scott Guthrie. That guy is the most down to earth Executive in Microsoft, I mean I sometimes forgot he’s not “one of the guys” and is basically a well grounded personality inside Microsoft. I personally think he can definitely be the next Bill Gates for our company.
User Experience Evangelists. These guys have one of the toughest jobs in Microsoft, going into the agency space etc and evangelizing our brands is a tough gig. We’ve never really been in that space and over the past 3 years they have done an amazing job – I'm very proud to have worked with them all.
Designers in Microsoft. “Design Inspiration”, “UxEcosystem” and “UI Discussion” are three of my favorite internal distribution lists. The design teams throughout Microsoft are doing amazing work, its a hard area for them to succeed in given we are an engineering culture within. They are able to do things though that put a much needed face on innovation, and I look forward to seeing and experiencing their future success.
Silverlight Engineering Team. Anyone who has the guts to go “File->New->Silverlight” when all odds are stacked against you is definitely one thing they should all be proud of. It’s a brilliant product and the amount of effort they have put into making it is driven by a lot of passion. I’ve sat in on meetings where I've come out smiling and thinking “those guys get it” more times than I care to count. They’ll do good, be patient and understand that in 22 months or so, they have built a product that will shape the future of Microsoft User Experience in general. In 22 months we have a product that is on more than 400million+ machines world wide. Adobe can play the ubiquity card all they like, but we’re gaining fast and so that playbook will change and look out Adobe, as these guys are extremely gifted and determined to raise the bar in RIA overall. They don’t care about what Flash is doing, they care about what we all do with RIA.
Michael Bach (Snr Prod Manager Web), David Pugmire (Prod Mgr Silverlight) and Anees Ansari (Prod Mgr ASP.NET).
I’ve counted on these three for the past year or so for a lot of guidance and i have a lot of respect for what they have achieved. Michael is one of the driving forces behind UX in the Microsoft.com/WEB ecosystem, and you’ll hopefully see more of his design skills in the future. David “DaPug” Pugmire, is the guy who’s fighting in every developers corner in the Silverlight space, his first and only thought daily is “why is this a good thing for the Silverlight dev community” and he will fight any who ignore them or give them the slightest amount of disrespect. Anees is the ASP.NET man, he’s a workhorse and is the first to arrive and last to leave guy inside our floor, he works day and night to make sure ASP.NET gets as much attention as he can muster and spend budget on. He has a healthy engineering background and he gets it as well.
Brian Goldfarb/Brad Becker. Brian & Brad are two super smart guys, Brad is a deep thinker and Brian is a fast mover,combined I've seen Silverlight come out unscathed and well positioned. I’ve had many debates with these two managers of mine, but in the end they’ve always made a lot of attempts to cover my back when I’ve probably pushed the envelope a little too much more than I should. I can see Brian/Brad right now probably thinking 20 ways I could improve this blog post, its ok, its what they do 🙂
Tim Heuer. The guy is a workhorse for the SL community, enough said. He’s got the weight of it all on his shoulders and he does a truck load of work on behalf of the brand, so he’s got a bright (heh no pun intended) future in the Silverlight space.
Adobe. I think majority of the Evangelists should be fired, as they really bring the brand down. That being said, guys like Lee Brimelow, James Ward etc are the guys who understand Evangelism. It’s not about proving the other guy is a joke, it’s about showing those who are interested in your space a path forward. I think Adobe this year have done an amazing job at what they have produced and I look forward to seeing more of their work, but I think the whole Microsoft vs. Adobe thing has gotten old and played out, so my last parting wisdom as a full time Microsoft employee – Learn Humility. I did, and it works.
Silverlight Community. As cliché as that sounds I’ve been blown away by how fast and motivated this community has become. I’ve watched it grow from a single weird thread inside a website to this explosion of growth, one that I've been proud to be apart of from the start. I look forward to sitting in the crowd with you all, watching things unfold as you do and echoing praise/criticism as the next person. I have the contacts still but in the end i look forward to learning from you and giving you any advice i can give where i can.
Last words before you leave?
I technically finish up at Microsoft on November 1 2009 and then I take some holidays to pack up my house etc and move back to Australia. The last thing I want all to know and its something that Chris Bernard (one of the best mates I have in Microsoft) once told me in early 2007.
"..The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man..." - George Bernard Shaw
It’s a quote I lived by in Microsoft. I ruffled feathers and made friends, I long past cared what people thought of me and i feel that 50% of Microsoft wanted me fired while 50% wanted me promoted, it was the 25% that lied I always had trouble figuring out. Its good to have a mixed reception as it provokes change.