Even before I applied to work at Microsoft, I had it in my head that it wasn't clear what the company's long-term prognosis would be. Sure, it's been fashionable to bash the company for more than a decade, but I've been realistic to think that the Windows and Office cash cows wouldn't last forever.
As it turns out, the company made a nice save with Windows 7 (to the extent that Apple doesn't know what to rag on now), and it's still the the most profitable non-oil company in the world. I also learned pretty quickly that, internally, I don't think anyone is under the illusion that Windows is the future of the company. To my relief, people have their heads on straight in that respect.
Even though I was joining an agile team, I was still worried that Microsoft as a whole was generally slow and suffered from dumb big company syndrome. And yes, there are still parts of it that are big slow waterfall process products. This week, after hearing from a great many speakers in the internal Engineering Forum conference, I learned that the agile process is spreading quickly, and the culture is actually shifting very quickly. There are some serious success stories.
I'm also enthusiastic about Windows Phone 7. Still not sure if the name is a liability or a plus, but everything I've seen about it in the technical and design sense is beyond encouraging. I've touched it, and I think it's better than iPhone. Android has shown that you can wiggle into that market (not surprising since phone consumers have always been fickle), so if the execution is right and the companies that make the phones make them shiny, we've got a pretty good shot at competing. The guy running that division was a marketing exec or something, so hopefully it has the right message.
In my own group, I feel like we're sometimes hindered with stuff that just doesn't matter, but I also see progress there. My team is very vocal about doing just what matters, and doing it quickly. There are still cultural and organizational challenges, but it's not hopeless or anything.
Every day someone is predicting the end of Microsoft, but I have to say that after this week, I feel a lot more confident about the company not only staying relevant, but even kicking ass. Oh, and next week is E3, so Project Natal will allegedly have a complete and public story. Having seen it... wow. I can't wait. Already wondering what the discount price will be at the company store. :)
A friend of mine from the old gang wrote me tonight asking about dev gigs, and we just happen to have one in our group. Wouldn't that be wild?
It was a good week at work.