Category: <span>Microsoft</span>

A couple of weeks ago, I accepted a new job, so I’m leaving Microsoft. I thought I would share the email I sent to my team.

Hello friends and colleagues,

As a few of you already know, the end of this month will bring to a close my six year adventure with WLDC and Microsoft. It’s been an amazing experience having had the privilege to work every day with so many intelligent, dedicated and professional people, all stretching themselves to make great software used by many millions of people. And that’s going to be a tough act to follow.

Over the time I’ve been here, I’ve worked on everything from “friends and family invitations” and cobranding in Messenger in Wave 3, to securing authentication tokens and searching for contacts on Exchange servers in Wave 5. The DC team has grown enormously as an organization in that time, and it’s been a privilege to be a part of that growth.

Before joining Microsoft in 2006, I spent 10 years working in small teams that were blazing new trails — first in music and film production, and then in personal web publishing. While those products are long gone, the markets they were a part of are still alive and well on the Web today. In some ways, my next adventure is a return to that type of work.

In July I’m starting with HDS here in Redmond, building systems to help manage the enormous volume of data that’s moving into the cloud. It’s hard to imagine today, but when I started my tech career as a test engineer, a really big hard disk held 4GB of data and cost around $1000, and the Web was still booting up. The entire company I worked for then had less storage capacity than some of us now carry with us in our laptops. When I started at Microsoft, Vista hadn’t shipped yet, Nokia, Palm and RIM were the mobile computing kings, there was no iPhone, no Android, and no Kindle, and tablet computing required a stylus.

It’s a new world with new challenges, and while I’m sad to be leaving, I’m excited to start the next chapter.

Please stay in touch! (Just don’t ask me to help fix the config server )

Heartfelt thanks to everyone!




I finally got sick of clicking Not Now when setting up my Windows Mobile PDA-phone under Vista, and deicded to go ahead and register with the Windows Mobile folks, to put a cease to their nagware.

Lo and behold, the message I get after entering my personal info is:

“Thank you for providing us with your email address. We will contact you when the program is available in your language.”

What the hell does that mean? The Windows Mobile team at Microsoft doesn’t speak English?

I think this bug is related to the fact that I used a non-Hotmail Windows Live ID to log in, so they can’t tell what market I’m in. But really folks — shouldn’t we default to English?

Also, what “program” are they talking about? I didn’t ask for any program for my phone, and it seems to be working in English perfectly well already.


Microsoft Pocket PC

Is it a blogging tool? A publishing platform? A social networking service? I don’t think it really knows.

My guess is that if Spaces were to launch today as a brand new blogging service that no one had ever seen before, it would probably be panned for its confusing user interfaces, for being cluttered with lots of shallow features of marginal value, for its design inflexibility, and for its relatively small profile of developer features. The same is probably true of Spaces as a publishing platform, and as a social networking service.

This is a failure for all three groups of potential target end-users:

  1. Writers (a.k.a. bloggers)
  2. Designers & graphics people
  3. Web & mash-up developers

That’s not to say that the current incarnation of Spaces is a failure for Microsoft. Just because users don’t like something, doesn’t mean that you can’t still sell ad space. But we all know that in the long run, if the users don’t stay, the advertisers won’t stay either.

I hope the folks in charge over there are thinking about this kind of question, because in my opinion until Spaces makes up its mind about what it really wants to be, it can only be marginally successful.

There’s still room in this market to do interesting work that fulfills real users’ needs — if Spaces can come to grips with the fact that it needs to get really specific about its own identity, and stop trying to be all things to all people. The users are key, and they won’t respect a product that they can’t identify with. After all, who can identify with a product that doesn’t have an identity? Why would users trust Spaces to represent their own online identities when it isn’t clear about what it is as a product?

I have more ideas about this, so if you’re someone who works on Spaces, maybe we should do lunch. I’m in REDW-D 1153, at x34537.