12 Years...Feels Like Dog Years
Well, today marks 12 years at Microsoft for me. I try not to blog about my personal stuff, but I was feeling a bit reflective so I thought I would take a moment to post about it. (This is completely self-serving, my apologies.)
I started at the end of 1995, just a few months after Windows 95 was launched which was a big moment in the industry. Compared to the Windows for Workgroups networks I had been installing for small law firms in Boston (John - thanks for the patience and teaching) - it was a big step forward. I was also working with Windows NT 3.x which was a lesson in patience. I was a systems engineer in the field for MS and started wrestling with issues of interop and industry competition for orgs working with Netware servers and Windows clients. At one point I had technical chops - but those seem to have dissolved in the ensuing years.
It was in March of 1996 though that I started a project that would take me through the next three plus years. I got my hair twisted in a knot about Y2K and started working on it in my spare time. I was originally focused on using a bunch of our early mainframe interop technologies (a cookie to the person who can tell me what "Thor" was from Microsoft) to move 2nd-tier apps away from the big iron onto Windows Servers. That morphed over time into just trying to work on the issues that our customers were having. I ended up being the first full-time MS employee on Y2K and had an incredible opportunity to be mentored by Bob Herbold, one of the best execs I have every had the honor to work with.
After the world did not blow up (never thought it would), I did a stint working on security issues which was not a subject I enjoyed a whole lot. That is a world that you have to be wired right for...I was not. (IQ-challenged I think).
Then, a meeting came up where a group of us were asked to wrestle with what Microsoft's position on open source software. I jumped at the chance to take it on, and ended up working with a great virtual team to kick-off the Shared Source Initiative. I spent five great years working on open source, and being the front-man for MS with the OSS community. At times I felt like the Far Side (Gary Larson) cartoon where there are two deer standing next to each other and one has a huge target on its chest. The other one is saying, "Hell of a birth mark, Bob." But, the people I met were amazing, smart, creative, dedicated. Without a doubt, Shared Source/OSS gave me more perspective and understanding of software as a business than anything else in my career.
Since late 2005 I have been working on Interop and Standards.
The last thing to note is the past few years of blogging. What a treat that has been! I have enjoyed the conversation with the community more via the blog than any other means I've come across. Thank you Rob Scoble for encouraging me to blog.
Microsoft has been really good to me, and I've had the privilege to work with great people day after day both inside and outside of the company. Hard to argue with doing work that touches people globally and feel like you're having a real impact in a place that has grown from 17K to 80K people in just 12 years.
So, in that time I've grown up, got married, had 2 kids, bought a house...yikes! Must be time to quit and set up a bar on the beach in Bali.