November 1, 2014 spout

Microsoft Fan Boy Goes To Google

In 1992, I was a Unix programmer in Minneapolis. I’d graduated with a BS in Computer Science from the University of MN a year earlier and had written my programming assignments in C and C++ via first a VT100 terminal and then a VT100 terminal emulator on my Mac (running System 7, if you’re curious). My day job was at an AT&T VAR building multi-user voice response systems on Unix System V. My favorite editor was vi (not vim) and, like all good vi programmers, I hated emacs with a white hot passion.

Being bored with my current job, I posted my resume on the internet, which meant uploading it in ASCII text to an FTP site where tech companies knew to look for it. The tech company that found it was Intel. To prepare for my interview in Portland, OR, I went to play with a Windows 3.1 machine that someone had set up in the office, but nobody used. I had a Mac at home and Unix at work and for the 10 minutes that I could stand to use it, Windows 3.1 seemed like the worst of both. In spite of my distaste, Intel made an offer I couldn’t refuse and I found myself moving with my new wife to a new city for a new job and a new technology stack.

The move to Intel started my love affair with Windows (starting with Windows 95, of course, let’s be reasonable). Over the years, I grew to love Word, Excel, Visio, PowerPoint, Outlook, Live Writer, Skype, Windows XP, Windows 7, COM, ATL, .NET, C# and of course the Big Daddy for Windows developers: Visual Studio. Not only did I become a Windows fan boy (I can’t tell you how lonely it is to own a Windows Phone after the iPhone was released), but I became I contributing member of the Windows community, accounting for nearly 100% of the content on this web site, first published in 1995 solely to provide links to my DevelopMentor students, but growly steadily since (over 2600 posts in 20 years). Add to that to more than a dozen books and countless public speaking engagements, magazine articles and internet appearances and you’ve got a large investment in the Windows technology stack.

Of course, as I take on roles beyond consultant, speaker, author and community PM, I contribute less and less (although I do love spouting off into my twitter feed). Even so, I’ve been a regular attendee to Windows-related events and 90% of my friends are also Windows developers, so the idea of leaving not just a technology ecosystem but an entire community behind is a pretty daunting one.

And then, about 45 days ago, Google came knocking with an offer I couldn’t refuse. A few days after that, before I’ve even officially accepted the offer, I find myself in a bidding war for a house in Kirkland, WA that the wife and I both love (which almost never happens). So, for the first time since 1992, with my three boys graduated from high school, I find myself moving with my new wife to a new city for a new job and a new technology stack. As I write this, it’s the Friday before my Noogler orientation week (New Googler — get it?). I’ll be working on tools for Google cloud developers, which matches my Windows experience helping developers build distributed systems, although there’s going to be a huge learning curve swapping in the details.

After 20 years with Visual Studio, I don’t know if my fingers still know vi, but I can’t wait to find out. If I get a beer or two in me, I might even give emacs another try…