Sunday, March 23, 2008

My New Job

Well, this post has been a long time in coming. Finally all the stars have aligned, and I can announce to the world (i.e. you!) that I have accepted a job at Microsoft. My family and I are moving up there in just a few more weeks -- we sold our house (in one week flat! amazing what price reductions can do), and are in escrow. Which also explains the loooong delay since last post.

What exactly will I be doing? I'll be working for a technical strategy incubation team, which kind of sits in between research and line development. We're working on a new operating system stack from boot loader all the way to applications. I can't really say much more, except that what we're doing is not entirely unrelated to the Singularity operating system.

Having spent the last twenty years in the bay area, hotbed of anti-Microsoft sentiment, I am pretty sure that I have quite a few readers (and friends!) who will be wondering why exactly I'm joining the Evil Empire. Especially when I interviewed with quite a few other places, including Amazon and Google. What's up with that?

There are a few answers to that question:
  • I don't like how Microsoft has abused their monopoly power, but I also have been a Windows user for the last sixteen years, with quite reasonable satisfaction. So I personally have never quite swallowed the "Microsoft is Satan" kool-aid.

  • The more blogs I read by Microsofties (especially the anonymous ones), the more I see that Microsoft's internal self-assessment is by no means all rosy. Microsoft engineers seem quite aware of when their stuff sucks. The existence of the team I'm joining is arguably proof of that exact fact.

  • It's possible that working for Microsoft will circumscribe what I can blog about without making lawyers mad. However, that's just as true of Google, which is also notoriously secretive. Google also has had quite a few criticisms directed at its business practices. Basically, size, confidentiality, and ethical qualms seem unavoidably linked. (It's true that Google does more open source stuff than Microsoft, but that may be changing as well.)

  • If our stuff is great and makes it into Microsoft products, it could potentially make life better for a whole lot of people. Operating system work at Microsoft can have a broad impact in a short time, if it's successful.

I'll also be working with some old friends from my Xanadu days, along with some relatively well-known other folks, including Pavel Curtis and Chris Brumme. I got to meet a good cross-section of the team and I'm very jazzed. My research paper addiction paid off handsomely, it turns out!

I spent the entire last week of February interviewing. I did get offers from other places, each of which I greatly appreciated.

I got a great offer from the Prime team at Amazon, also, which seems like an extremely sharp group; I will definitely be keeping a close eye on Amazon as they grow their distributed infrastructure business.

I also interviewed with a startup, which I expect to do very well (keep an eye on Apptio -- though they'll be rebranding themselves soon!). If I hadn't spent the last ten years in startups, none of which has (yet) had life-changing success, I would have probably jumped on them just for the raw upside potential; as it is, though, I'm ready to try a megacorp.

(To my Google friends: Google was very interested but ultimately turned me down. Might have partly been timing issues on my end. So, looks like it'll be a while (at least) before I'm working with you all. I'll also need to pull back from the GWT project. It's been a great few years in Java-land but it's time for a change, and I'm looking forward to C# generics :-)

All in all it was a very difficult choice across the board!

In general the whole week was the most fun I've ever had interviewing, despite the fact that I had a big bandage on my head for most of the week (beware of low pine branches after dark!!!). I sincerely thank everyone who took time to meet with me in person or by phone over the last few months.

Now to start walking the fine line between saying too little and too much. I don't plan to go dark on this blog, though I also won't (yet) be able to say much about my day job here. But that won't stop me from the general research paper talk to which you're already accustomed!