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My First 6 months Working for The Man

Pete Brown - 12 April 2010

It's hard to believe, but today marks six months of working for Microsoft. It was a long process - one that lasted almost two years from the first contact to the start date, but it was worth it.

I started on Monday October 12, 2009. On that first day, I got all my orientation and badge work done by 3:00pm, and then went and found Scott so I could shadow him for a bit. I even made a few awkward "oops, let me get out of the way of the door" cameos in some channel 9 videos that week :)

That same day, I met with some product team folks in devdiv, Windows, and elsewhere. The things I learned totally rocked my world. I saw things that will show up in future products, and some prototypes of things that will never see the light of day in that particular form, but were amazing never-the-less, and will help make other things awesome.

I normally don't like to do meta-style posts, but I'll indulge on my anniversary here today.

So, do I Like it?

I often get asked at code camps and tweetups and other places where I run into folks I've known from back when I worked for a living "Do you like it?" and "Was it what you expected?"

As for whether or not I like it: Oh hell yes. Think about it for a second:

  • I'm working with the "Mr Big" of community teams
  • I get to play with cool stuff
  • I write, blog, code demos, record videos, speak at events, and get paid for it.
  • And it's my job

Did I mention it's a job I get paid for? Seriously, while there is a boatload of work that never really surfaces until you notice a site mysteriously opens a new section, or a pile of videos show up, this is exactly what I want to be doing. I joke that I "used to work for a living" only because I'd do most of this for free (and have in the past, but not at this scale). Don't tell Scott I said that, though.

So yeah, without evoking the greasy golden arches let me say "I'm lovin' it" :)

Is it What I Expected?

Was it what I expected? There are some real differences there. For example, I thought working for a company the size of Microsoft would be a huge culture shock. The reality is, while I branch out through virtual teams, the people I work with are our extended team (msdn, *.net sites etc.) and subsets of the product teams and dev div management stack. In that way, it feels like a smaller company than I expected.

The other thing I didn't quite expect, coming from the outside, was just how cool and interesting most everyone is. Oh, and smart. That first week was pretty overwhelming because I met with a ton of really smart people and I was just starting to cope with the feelings of "oh crap, am I even qualified to be around here?" that I now understand many folks have. Big fish small pond, meet much bigger fish in a much bigger pond. The word I kept using that first week was "humbling."

The other thing I was nervous about was working for Scott Hanselman. Scott and I had met a couple times, but in most people's view, he's a short step from working directly for ScottGu. I'm not into hero worship, but you have expectations set on public personas. I was also used to being in a position where the thickness of the management overhead above me was pretty thin, and I had direct reports of my own. Scott did a great job getting me started though, and is someone who really does care about the folks that work for him. I'm happy with the decision to join this team. Scott's one of the good guys.

One thing that was very new to me was the measurement process. When you're in the consulting business (which I was for 13 years), it's hard to set goals that are more specific than "stay billable x% of the time". The process at Microsoft is much more formalized, and everything is measured. If it can be measured, it will be. I'm on the fence about the usefulness of some of the metrics (especially ones I'm not quite hitting yet [Subscribe to my blog, I beg you!!<g>]), but they're better than a SLOC count in any case.

It's also a welcome change to not have to account for every 15 minutes of my day. We're results-driven here, and truthfully, everyone works more than 40 hours anyway. It seems nit picky, or even petty, but it's an important quality-of-life aspect to the job, and one that the rest of the team and our management fully supports.

What's in Store?

I'm continuing in my current role as the WPF Community guy, but I'll also be doing a good bit more in the Silverlight space, Windows Phone and gaming. With the release of Visual Studio 2010 and WPF 4, and the impending release of Silverlight 4, plus the holiday release of Windows Phone 7, I'm going to be pretty happy, and pretty busy :) If it's XAML or client code running on Windows, I'm interested.

Plus, I'm wrapping up my Silverlight 4 book with Manning, and it's turning out to be even more awesome than I imagined. It's also about 2x as thick as I had planned, but that's not a horrible problem unless you're the publisher. heh.

Once the book is off my plate, I'll have a life again. :)


Overall, I'm really happy. I've picked the right company, the right team, and the right technologies. Maybe I'm still in honeymoon mode, but I've talked with folks that have been here for 5+ years who have the same opinions, so it's a seriously long honeymoon :)


Oh, and I still can't bring myself to say "Send me an S+" Maybe someday, but not yet.

posted by Pete Brown on Monday, April 12, 2010
filed under:          

8 comments for “My First 6 months Working for The Man”

  1. Robertsays:
    I"m glad you are here, I've really enjoyed your blog. I find WPF fascinating, but I just haven't had the time to really devote to learning it, but your blog keeps my interest level up. Thanks!!
  2. shaggygisays:
    Congrats on first 6 months and keep up the good work. I always read your blogs from WPF and SL sites and just recently bought your early preview of book via MEAP.

    I focus more on WPF apps, but plan on getting involved more with SL and Surface in the near future. Since working with WPF, I find it very frustrating to see SL getting all the love. Don't get me wrong, I think it's good to see SL advance this quickly. It just seems there would be more luvin along the way for WPF.


    Controls: SL Toolkit vs. WPF Toolkit. I don't know how many times I've read.. "Updates coming soon". I know the team has priorities trying to get VS2010 and .NET 4 is released. I hope to see a better roadmap in near future.

    A. Will there be faster releases for WPF like SL's toolkit? Will there be a merge of controls that work between platforms? I think the last update was a good start. e.g. Accordion, Rating, etc. Let's keep em' coming. e.g. DataForm, Bing Map, etc.
    B. Where's the WPF Ribbon CPT2 or RTM version. No updates on this for months.
    C. WPF Bag O' Tricks. ScottGu specifically discussed this in one of his VS2010 Beta blogs, but I've not seen any updates. Yes, I know. There is a link for this on the web, but it is dated and does not include the controls he mentioned.
    D. New controls. Glad to see the DataGrid, Calendar and DatePicker added to .NET 4. Any new controls coming soon? e.g. TimePicker, Deep Zoom and/or much needed Docking Control ( Like the one used in VS 2010 )?

    Conference Sessions: There seems to be only a few WPF sessions compared to the amount focused on SL. I don't recall hearing anything about WPF during MIX10 keynotes. Yes, the theme is "The next web now", but I assumed MIX was about a mixture of technologies.

    Data Connections: I'm still new to the Web Service thing, but what about WCF RIA Services? OData? I've seen a brief blog that you can hack it with WPF by Brad Abram. Seems like there would have been out-of-box support for this in v1.

    MVVM Support: Since this seems like the pattern to follow for WPF ( and SL ), it seems there would be more blogs, books, end-to-end walkthroughs, etc. Any templates going to be available within VS2010? Could you blog a detailed tutorial on how to use the new MVVM templates in Blend 4 Beta?

    Not meaning to rant. This is a few areas I believe the team needs to focus on now that VS2010 and new framework is RTMed. I like the WPF voting site you posted the other week. I hope it helps like the SL vote Tim Heuer did.

    I really believe the team has provided us with some good stuff this week. Keep up the good work:)
  3. Bigsbysays:
    I'm not a subscriber but, If I was, yours and Tim's blogs would be on my top list. I'm most certainly a follower of your posts and of your interests. Can measure that? Happy birthday! Keep 'em coming.
  4. Jeff Putzsays:
    Your comments about the "size" feel for me are true as well, after five months (-1 for baby leave). STO in particular is a lot smaller than I had imagined, perceptually at least. I'm sure you love having a boss who blogs words like "buttload" too.
  5. Rolandsays:
    Glad to notice you are on cloud nine :p
    I am a newer subscriber and I have tried to catch up with the latest news you published.
    One thought: working for Ms is something many people are green with envy :p Could you describe what your typical day/week is since October 12th, 2009 ? It seems you write 80% of your time and are entirely focused on Silverlight in action.


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