On being a Macintosh girl at Microsoft

Macintosh. Microsoft. Macintosh. Microsoft. To a lot of people, it seems like these two shouldn’t go together. But, here we are: the biggest Macintosh development organisation outside of Apple, and yes, we’re at Microsoft. There’s about 180 of us, and all we do is Mac stuff.

It’s kinda strange being a Mac person at Microsoft. My machine set-up is more difficult than for the average Softie. There’s permissions and exceptions and access requests and all sorts of things to make my various Macs work happily on our network. If I’m in one of the MacBU buildings toting around my PowerBook, no-one notices. But outside of those two buildings (one at the Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, California; the other on our main campus in Redmond, Washington), I get strange looks. In an elevator, someone came up to me and told me that I had to be pretty special to get a PowerBook. I reminded him that Microsoft makes world-class Mac software, and someone’s gotta work on it. I had a building receptionist ask me if I needed her to call someone to come get me.

It’s also kinda strange being a Microsoft person in the Mac world. I spent all week at WWDC watching people look carefully at my badge. At MacWorld Expo, I worked at the Microsoft booth every day, answering questions and telling people about our software. A lot of people use our products, but they sometimes forget that they’re using Microsoft products.

I spend a lot of time reminding people that we’re the biggest all-Mac development org. I remind them of the history of Excel and PowerPoint, two apps that started out on the Mac and were only later ported to Windows. It’s amusing to me that I have to do this both within Microsoft and when I’m at various Mac-related events.

I realised something as I typed all of this out. All of this is superficial. Although I might use a different laptop than the majority of the other Microsoft employees, we have a lot in common. We all have a commitment to making the best software that we can. And even though I work for a company that you might think doesn’t get along with Apple that well, we all have a commitment to our Mac customers to give them the best software possible. I think it’s like those old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups ads. Some people might say, ‘Keep your Microsoft off of my Mac!’ And some people might say, ‘Keep your Mac out of my Microsoft!’ But that’s the wrong attitude. Microsoft and Macintosh are two great tastes that taste great together.