Ten years at the best company in the world

Tuesday, 08 December 2015

I am incredibly proud that on 12th December 2015, I'll have completed my first ten years working for Microsoft.


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I am incredibly proud that on 12th December 2015, I'll have completed my first ten years working for Microsoft. I started my career at Microsoft in the Services department as a SharePoint consultant. This role involved helping companies, design, develop and deliver SharePoint installations and solution of varying scales. In 2012, I moved to the Developer Evangelism department (DX) where I help developers understand Microsoft's latest technology, specifically Web, Windows, Azure and Office. During my ten years I've seen lots of changes at Microsoft and I can honestly say that the vibe around the company has never been stronger, both internally and externally. I think we are doing all the right things in all the right ways and that seem to be really changing public perception. I think we are well on our way to being 'cool' again. These are just some of my proudest, more interesting moments during the past ten years:

A big, massive, global intranet

One of my biggest projects during my time as a SharePoint consultant was in 2009. I was part of as team that helped one of the UK's major food manufacturers design, develop and deploy their global intranet based on SharePoint 2007. I worked as the technical lead of an awesome team from people within the UK and India to design and develop various customisations for the intranet as well as help with the overall software architecture. This was my first major taste of working on large, enterprise-scale projects. It was also my first taste of working in a distributed development team that spanned different geographies.

Open source before it was trendy (at Microsoft)

In 2011, I worked on an open source project called 'Site Directory for SharePoint 2010'. This was a custom solution that aimed to implement some of the site directory capabilities from SharePoint 2007 that were dropped for the 2010 release. You can still find this out on CodePlex (anyone remember that?) During 2011, Microsoft were nowhere near as keen on open source as we are now and I had to go through no end of legal disclaimers to be able to publish this thing. It seem crazy compared to modern times where projects pretty much start on GitHub and we have many of our crown jewels out there for all to see including ASP.Net and Visual Studio Code. I have no idea if anyone is still using this project - good luck to you if you are! :)

A Published Author

In 2012, I was very proud to become a published author for the first time. I was involved in a collaborative effort to write the wonderful and enthralling SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Architect's Guidebook which is still available to buy on Amazon at the bargain price of £39.99. I have no idea how well this book sold, but I know there are 8 copies in my mother's garage so if anyone wants a copy, just ping me.

Windows in a Window

One of my very first projects in the evangelism team (DX) was around the time that Windows 8 launched in 2012. I got involved in a great project that saw us deploy around 20 large 80" monitors running Windows 8 in the windows of high street stores around the country (John Lewis, PC World etc). We teamed up with a company that had this fascinating technology that was able to relay touch commands from the actual shop window (yes, the actual glass) to the PC running inside the window. This meant that people in the street were able to touch and interact with Windows 8 on an 80" screen directly via the shop window. We toured the country installing these screens and I was asked to write an app that helped people understand what Windows 8 was and how to use it. The app was called Touch Here, Learn Windows 8 and was actually very popular when Windows first launched with around 40,000 downloads to date. This is a picture of the screen we installed at the John Lewis in Sloane Square, London

My very first Windows Partner app

Initially, my role in the evangelism team was to work with partners to help them design, develop and publish apps to the Windows store. The first app that I worked on in any level of detail was Drillboard which is a football coaching app. The app allows coaches to draw drills on their tablet which can be used in coaching lessons. When I got involved in this project, I was amazed that I was able to be involved with such a cool thing ... a massive departure from my previous work with large enterprises and SharePoint.

The Microsoft Edge Case

Recently, myself and my buddy The Beebs have been trying to encourage web developers to make sure their websites are up to speed and compatible with modern web standards. The focus of our work has been around compatibility with Microsoft Edge but it actually applies to any modern browser. You can test your website using our Site Scanner tool, but that is a bit boring isn't it? Instead we invented a retro arcade machine with lasers, smoke, flashing lights, accelerometers and till receipts. We've found that to be a much more interesting way to test your website so we take it around the country with us to our various events. We call is the Microsoft Edge Case (see #MicrosoftEdgeCase)

Touring the UK; talking to web developers, having a laugh

In the past 18 months, I've had the pleasure of touring around the UK with my buddy The Beebs delivering a day of free content for web developers. We've been to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, London, Brighton, Nottingham and all over the UK - we have lots of dates lined up for next year too. I've seen and heard some amazing things during these events including:

  • Watching my colleague Martin Beeby strip down to his pyjamas during the middle of a talk and carrying on like it is normal
  • Slightly inappropriate jokes about 1970's magicians
  • Delivering the keynote of a full day of content, to find that over half of the audience were here for the wrong event

In summary, my first ten years at Microsoft has been awesome. I feel very privileged to work for such an amazing company full of such amazing people and I'm looking forward to another ten, twenty or however many years they let me stay here for.

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