I can’t believe it but as of today I have already been at Microsoft for a whole year. It really has been a great year. Moving up to Washington from San Diego happened so fast my head was spinning for the first couple of months. Now that we feel more settled we really like it up here.
What I Have Worked On
I work on a team called the Windows Reliability Team. I have actually had the opportunity to work on two different features this past year. I started out working on a testing framework which was really challenging and interesting. It was a great introduction to Microsoft and to the Windows organization because it allowed me to interact with different teams and different technologies. When I joined the Windows team I wasn’t sure how much C# (or any managed code) I would get to use. Windows is, however, still mainly a native code product. And that is the way it should be. It is an operating system. But on the test side of things it is much more common for developers to be using .Net. In fact, I sometimes find myself being sort of an evangelist for .Net and C# within the team which is interesting. I never I thought I would join Microsoft only to teach them about their own technology. But then again with a company with such a wide array of products it is impossible for everybody to know them all.
The other feature I have been working on for the last 6 months or so is called Windows Reliability Component (RAC). It is a new feature in Vista which monitors the reliability of your machine. In fact, if you run the reliability monitor (another feature owned by my team) it displays data produced by RAC. We are working on some great new features for Windows 7 and I can’t wait until the PDC when people actually get to see some of our work.
What I Have Learned
Microsoft is a huge company. The opportunities here are immense. The trick is finding something that you are passionate about and pursuing that. Right now, I feel like I am just starting that journey. I have been a developer for almost 10 years and working at Microsoft has shown me that there is so much ahead of me in my career. There are real problems to be solved. Interesting technologies to contribute to.
So have I found my passion at Microsoft? I would say I am still looking. Windows Reliability is a great place for me to be right now. There is so much to learn and there are some great people on my team to learn from. I have often asked myself if I could work on anything I wanted to what would it be. Unfortunately I don’t have a great answer for that. So I am going to continue to search for that answer. And when I find it I will let you know.
It has been interesting to follow the rise of the Alt.Net movement and the popularization of more Agile techniques in the .Net community. It is especially interesting when you look at the principles of Agile and wonder if they could ever scale to the point of a project like Windows. The way that Windows is engineered is nothing short of amazing. Although I think there is a lot an organization like Windows can learn from the Agile community, I don’t think Windows will be jumping on the Agile bandwagon any time soon. But within the small feature teams, like the one I work on, there is a lot of opportunity to apply TDD and continuous integration.
What I Am Looking Forward To
I am very grateful for the opportunity to work on a product like Windows which is literally used by about a billion people. I can’t wait to get feedback on Windows 7. Internally we have been using it for a while and we love it. Hopefully you will too. I look forward to experiencing everything that goes along with the release of a product like Windows.
Mostly, I am looking forward to all that I know is in store for me at Microsoft. I feel like I have barely had time to scratch the surface of all that Microsoft is about. Probably the best advice I have received since I have been at Microsoft has been this:
Your career at Microsoft is more of a marathon than it is a sprint.
I think of this advice whenever I wonder if I have accomplished enough during my first year. Have I made my mark? No. But I plan on it.