By , September 18, 2009 12:07 am

I have worked at Microsoft for just under 14 years.  Till now, I have unfailingly been a Microsoft bigot — partly because I am a shareholder and my compensation depends on it but also because I always believed in the company.  For the vast majority of my career (and even before I worked at Microsoft), I believed that Microsoft was changing the world for the better.  This was particularly true with my first group at MS: the SQL Server team.  This team of awe-inspiring individuals took an esoteric technology that used to be the sole domain of lab-coated rocket scientists and made it accessible to millions upon millions of people and businesses.  That team did nothing less than democratize relational database technology (really enterprise software technology) in a way that was previously unimaginable.  That sort of work, while driving a shitload of revenue, had more than its share of nobility.  And because of that sense of mission, I never found it tough or illogical to be a Microsoft bigot.

Nearly 14 years later, a lot has changed.  I am older and tend to be more pragmatic.  I am certainly more cynical.  And most importantly (and sadly), in my judgment, Microsoft, as an organization, has lost its sense of mission.  While there still are many folks that operate based on a sense of doing what’s good and right for the world, as a company, Microsoft feels like it’s operating solely to protect itself.  It has been a while since I have felt that, again as an organization, we value the needs of our customers over the need to cover our own asses.  In my recent experience doing the right thing always gets subordinated to hitting scorecard metrics.  (Admittedly, customer satisfaction is often a scorecard metric – but that metric is invariably trumped by revenue or share.)  While this mindset might result in returning a few extra cents per share of shareholder value, it doesn’t make for cultivating the same sense of loyalty that I used to enjoy. 

So here I am, publishing my blog on a server running Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP – the dreaded LAMP stack.  The irony here is particularly thick since, at one point in my career, I actually ran a Linux compete team (albeit focused on desktop Linux).  My decision to use this stack has nothing to do with bitterness or revenge.  Quite the contrary – as alluded to above, in my 40′s I have become rather more practical.  It turns out that, by far, the best solution for blogging is WordPress and WordPress is an application written in PHP and commonly hosted on Linux. 

Here it is: WordPress is just freakin’ cool.  It’s a solid and richly functional application.  There are thousands of free, downloadable design themes to make my site look fresh and cool.  There are thousands of free plug-ins and widgets to add slick, compelling features.  And most depressingly, there ain’t nothin’ offering anything remotely close to the richness of WordPress that runs on the Microsoft platform.  Microsoft is a company built entirely around the principle of enabling developers to build out the richness (and value) of our platform.  Given this fact, it’s an understatement when I say it’s a bummer that we are so woefully behind when it comes to exciting developers about our platform.  Our inability to inspire developers is not due to a lack of innovation.  I would argue that Microsoft has delivered some incredibly innovative platform technologies and solutions and continues to do so even today.  I never cease to be amazed by the cool things our engineers and architects deliver.  I submit that our waning success is a cultural issue not a technical issue.  I hope to explore this last idea at length in future posts.  In the mean time it saddens me that, for whatever the reason, the best thing going for blogging runs on LAMP.  In spite of my prior history of bigotry, I now willingly admit that someone else has actually come up with something worthy of the moniker “best”.  And I want and deserve the best. 

So welcome to my blog — running on LAMP — and enjoy the irony.


3 Responses to “Irony”

  1. AlexAxe says:

    Super post, Need to mark it on Digg
    Thank you

  2. I do agree with you about wordpress, Barry!
    I feel some nostalgic sadness though in your writing, hearing you talk about the inevitable changes that have, are, and will continue to take place within the technological realm. For better or worse.
    I will admit, I have crossed over to “the dark side” and typically use apple products – almost as though the circle has completed itself from childhood – when I was a kid, we all used apple! As an adult throughout my 20′s, I only used PC. Now, it’s apple again for various reasons. . .
    By the way, I’m only 31 years old, and I’m the most cynical person I know (regarding your above comment)! I don’t relay this as if it was a good trait – trust me – I know how the worst of cynicism can drag you down. It can me, anyways!
    I can relate to your feelings of disenchantment. Though my career path was much different, I was very disheartened as I continued to participate within the confines of a criminal justice system that leaves much to be desired. The bureaucratic, stale, politically dominated court and hierarchical system quashed what idealism I had left and ultimately led to my resignation. I’m sorry to hear that you are having to feel some similar emotions around Microsoft’s evident hesitation win their progression toward a clear and focused mission statement or focal point. I too, feel a sense of melancholy about seeing my department fall short of what should have been our mission; and the worst is the apathy of co-workers, supervisors, and Judges. Sad.
    Sorry to ramble! You must have struck a nerve! Anyways, check your email – I did my best to complete the XFN, but, unfortunately, I’m not the fastest computer on the lot when it comes to anything that has even a little bit of code or “widget” requirements.
    Take care – I really hope that you are doing well.
    :) warmest love and regards,

  3. Bruce Hungate says:

    Also excellent! Write more – you’re really good at it. The CYA mentality is also unbelievable in my field, academia. We’re under constant fear of audits and lawsuits, usually at the expense of innovative ideas in research and education.

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