It's hard to believe that it has been almost a year since I turned in my Storm Trooper outfit in Redmond. I'm not going to write about that experience yet again, but I will say that I still think about the decision to leave and move back to Cleveland a great deal. For me at least, I liken the experience to college. No matter what you thought about the place at the time, it permanently becomes a part of you. With mixed experiences and mostly fond memories, that's definitely true for me.
What I find exciting is that Microsoft has clearly turned a corner in a way that most people would not have expected. The product lineup was already pretty exciting, but this year it's like the great second coming. Windows 8, new dev tools, the vastly improved Azure, the next phone OS, and even the new Surface... it's great stuff. I'm not sure why that surprises me, as I've always said that the company is too big to generalize that it's dumb and slow. Critics are fond of connecting something like Microsoft Bob with people building the phone... as if that's even remotely logical.
I'm not suggesting the company doesn't have work to do to improve. Far from it. But what I notice about people there is how many have a great deal of self-awareness about the issues. I could see that transition bubbling up while I was there, and I think it's starting to show.
At the end of the day, it'll be up to consumers to decide how excited they are. There is no marketing silver bullet, but I think if they get the toys in front of people, and real human beings to talk candidly about them (DevDiv, where I worked, already does this pretty well), it's going to be a big year for them.
New bits for Windows 8 and Visual Studio hit MSDN in 11 days. Looking forward to it!