10 years 10 lbs of M&Ms

tess mobile 107This week I turned 10 in Microsoft years which according to MS tradition means that you need to bring in 10 lbs of M&Ms to the office to treat your co-workers with as they stop by and reminisce about the past 10 years :)  We don’t really have M&Ms in the stores in Sweden so I had to substitute for my favorite Swedish candy instead.

10 years is quite some time, but it feels even longer in our business when you think about how much happens with technology in 10 years.

When I first started at MS I got assigned to the VI (Visual InterDev) support team.  I can already picture your eyes rolling a little bit when thinking about VI:) 

Back in those days things were a little bit less complex, and my first support call was from
a guy who got a download dialog when viewing an asp page because he viewed it straight from disk rather than browsing through IIS, he was definitely not the first or the last with that issue:)

I still cringe a little bit when I think about the DTC controls and 80020009 Exception occurred.  For a while pretty much every call I got went something like this

- Microsoft Support, this is Tess speaking
- Hi, I have an issue with my ASP application.  When I use the DTC grid control I get 80020009 and no data is returned.
- Ok, that’s because your IUSR_<MACHINENAME> doesn’t have write access to the folder where you store your access db so that it can write to the lock file
- Thanks, bye

Compare that to my standard issues today (we have a web farm with 8 nodes and once a week we have an problem on one of the nodes causing the response times to be way higher than normal):)

We had a really awesome team of people working in the VI/ASP support team and we all had specialties that we dug deeper into.  Mine was debugging (not windbg, but VI debugging:)  ouch…).  And not even debugging, but setting up the debugger, double ouch…

If you haven’t had to configure it yourself you probably wonder why someone had to specialize in that:) have a browse through this and you’ll understand:) 

After a while as a support engineer in the ASP team I became a TechLead (TL) which I quickly renamed to Technical Router and Librarian:)

The ASP.NET Launch and the start of my interest in debugging

When ASP.NET and .NET was announced it was really exciting and things started changing a lot.  I have to admit that when I first heard of the .NET framework I thought to myself.  Yeah, it’ll be good in the server world, but how will they ever get normal users to download the whole .net framework just to run some win forms app?   In retrospect that thought is comparable to “I think there is a world market for about 5 computers”:)

One of the defining moments in my career was in the Alpha stage of ASP.NET when a colleague from another team (one of the guys behind adplus) came up to me and said, I think we should make some videos about debugging .net with windbg.   I had pretty much never heard of windbg so my response was pretty much “debugging the what with the who???”.  But we sat down, set up some scenarios,  he took me through the basics of debugging with windbg and we were off.  

Back then we didn’t have all the fancy commands we have now though.  There was only about 5 commands in strike (the predecessor of sos), !dumpobj, !tst (dump a true stack trace), !dumpheap with one or two switches, and maybe one or two more commands.  Nice:)

I remember, one of my other colleagues devoted his life to documenting the asp.net framework and every single method that would be called during a requests lifecycle. He had 8m rolls of paper stuck in his cube with small text documenting everything:) We stayed up late at night writing whitepapers and training material about everything you could think of relating to asp.net. Now, that’s what I call preparing yourself for a launch:)

After this we started up the ASP.NET escalation team so I moved there, debugging production issues, and after a while I moved into a group called SIE (Solution Integration Engineering) working with debugging all sorts of .net issues, both for external customers and our internal development teams.  Finally I decided to move back to Sweden and join the EMEA ASP.NET escalation team and that is pretty much where I am at today.   I had already worked a lot with Doug the EMEA escalation team so we knew each other, and each others backgrounds pretty well.  We did have a formal interview but I think the most important question from my fellow EEs went something like “which beer do you prefer? Newcastle or Bud?”:).  


10 years in numbers

It’s hard to summarize 10 years on one page, but when I started thinking about it here it is (in no specific order)

  • 4 versions of Visual Studio
  • 10 operating systems (not counting mobile OS)
  • ~2000 support cases
  • 2 countries, 5 different homes
  • 6 job titles
  • 15+ managers
  • 1 wedding and 1 child
  • a gizillion cups of coffee and an incredible amount of M&Ms
  • another gizillion games of 8-ball and 9-ball
  • 5 Zunes (don’t ask me why:))
  • 3 XBoxes (standing in line outside CompUSA on launch day to get the first one)
  • an uncountable number of dump reviews:)
  • 180 blog posts
  • 1 TechEd presentation and numerous presentations at other conferences

So 10 years:)  wow, all in all I think these have definitely been the best 10 years of my life thanks to all the great people I have gotten to work with, both my colleagues and all the developers/customers I get to speak to every day.  I sincerely hope I get to celebrate 20 years at MS in 10 more years.

Have fun,

Comments (40)

  1. Shuaib says:

    Wow… Congrats!!!

    Incredible… Keep up the good job!

  2. Alejandro_Pacheco says:

    Congrats!  Really nice, your work, your blog and your 10 years @ MS.

    – Alejandro

  3. Congrats, it seems to have been a very busy 10 years. Good luck and thanks for the very helpful blog.


  4. congrats.

    How simple it is to write about  10 years experience in just 1 blog.It does take lot of hardwork to be there and still doing your work successfully.

  5. Jayasankar Pandyat says:

    Congrats Tess!!! It’s really great to work with great team for such a long time.

  6. vikram says:

    Congrats on such a wonderful career and blog

  7. Rick Launey says:

    I’m looking for a .net 2.0 programmer, part time, in the sacramento area…

    Any ideas?  


  8. Congrats! Here’s to 10 more.

    No, here’s to 2 more, then you get rich and retire!

  9. Cyril Bioley says:

    Scott told us to 😉

    Congrats !

  10. Mucho congrats, and thanks for all your hard work!

  11. Raithlin says:

    Congrats on holding out for so long! 😉 Now get your US colleagues to send you some M&Ms, mkay?

  12. ZombieSheep says:

    Congratulations Tess.  I hope you can continue there as long as you want to. 🙂

  13. neslekkiM says:

    Congrats, Keep up the good work!

  14. Congratulations Tess! Keep up the great work and great blog. Perhaps I can make it to 10 years – only 8 to go. 🙂

  15. Sidar Ok says:

    Congrats Tess, you are one of the brightest minds of the programming world and we are lucky that you have been sharing your knowledge with this great blog.

    Work happily for another 10 year !

  16. Kristofer says:


    So what is your favorite Swedish candy? Djungelvrål?

  17. Rob Allen says:

    Congratulations, and may you have ten more year here/there ,


  18. aconnell says:

    Big congrats… you’re blog has been a favorite of mine ad helped me get into the hard core debugging world. Was so pumped I’d be at TechEd EMEA this year with a chance to see your session, but I was the unfortunate soul who had to present my session against yours. Still ticked off about it… the recordings just aren’t as good as in person. Hopefully they’ll drag you across the ditch to present @ TechEd US this year (and won’t schedule us against each other)!

  19. Glenn says:

    Grattis med 10 år!

    You’re blog is awesome too!

  20. Tess says:

    Thanks all for the nice comments:)  really appreciate them.

    Kristofer, djungelvrål doesn’t even hold a candle to turkisk peppar:)

    And Andrew, about TechEd US,  would so love to go there, I think I need to up my marketing strategy so I get an invite:) best of luck on your presentation.  I was a bit bummed too that I missed yours.  Thinking of submitting something for TechEd Australia though…

  21. Burcu says:

    Wow, congrats. I hadnt heard the 10 lbs of M&M until today.

  22. Joe Brinkman says:

    Congratulations.  10 years is a lifetime in this industry.

  23. Congratulations…as Joe said, 10 yrs is a lifetime and it sounds like you’ve been able to experience a lot of great stuff.

    10 more years….

  24. Joakim Karlsson says:

    Grattis.. Har precis hittat din blogg. Mycket intressant läsning. Den hamnar i google reader nu direkt.

  25. Imran Aziz says:

    Wonderful , well done!

    I regularly read your blog and find it very useful.

  26. Syed Shariq says:

    Congrats Tess – such a wonderful career

    I always recommend my friend to not stay in a single company more than 2.5 years, it is good for future.

    But if you are working with Technology god-father @ MS then you can stay here all life and also can request God to give me again a new life to work with MS.

  27. Usman says:

    Its nice to see the world changing during all these years (remember i am just talking the world around MS). As a close follower of Microsoft, i too beleive that its seem a whole lot change in Microsoft Prospective since last 8 years.

    Many Congrats for these years here. best of luck for remainder (integer division please).

  28. Way to go, Tess!

    Congrats on the 10 years mark from someone who has been working "with" Microsoft (as a partner, vendor, consultant, etc) for 20 years!

    Most important, keep up with the great job and the EXCELLENT blog!

  29. josh says:

    congrats. congrats. congrats. congrats. congrats. congrats. congrats. congrats. congrats. congrats.

    yep, thats 10.. one for each year. keep up the good work, and thanks for the good blog too.

  30. Cory Foy says:

    Tess – Congratulations! Your blog has always been an inspiration, and it was a blast getting to work with people like you and Aaron when I was in PFE. Your combination of awesome knowledge and being able to relate that to people just getting started is absolutely invaluable.

    Again, congrats!


  31. Congratulations on making 10 years with Microsoft!

  32. Jojan says:

    Congratulations Tess… Keep debugging 🙂

  33. Rahul Soni says:

    Wow… the more we know about you, the more fascinating you appear!!!

    Super cool Tess.

    -Your admirer, your secret mentee, and a guy who attributes a good part of his success (of whatever limited amount) to you,


  34. This week I turned 10 in Microsoft years which according to MS tradition means that you need to bring

  35. Bruno Aleixo says:

    Congrats, glad you belong to this company. All  your contribution has a very high value in helping us!!!

    HAve fun

  36. Mitch Wheat says:

    Congrats Tess! Hope the next 10 years are as eventful as the last 10!

  37. David Qian says:

    Congratulations Tess! Wish you a good 10 years in Microsoft 🙂

  38. Hashname says:

    Congrats Tess…I would love to see you here for another 10 years!!!

  39. Ed Gillett says:

    Congrats Tess!

    I was at your 1 TechEd session 🙂 Was great to see the expert at work first hand. WUX405 was one of my TE2008 stand outs. Thanks again – the blog is always interesting reading.

  40. Congratulations. Your expository debugging skills bring you to the next level, hardware. To see where all this CLR stuff started, go back 30 years, starting with this:


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