First of all, let me apologize for my long absence.  During the period I have been away - my fingers have been busily typing the 13 page epic poem which is the full summer of my activities over the last 9 months.  I simply couldn't bring myself to write anymore.  But now its done and I'm happier for it.  *phew* 

Thanks to you (my trusty audience) this blog's readership has grown to be in the top 20% of Microsoft blogs with almost 40 Thousand views a month. That's quite an accomplishment!  I hope the material is (at some level) useful to you all.  If its not - be vocal - speak out - and be heard!

Looking at little factoid along with the rest of my activities over the course of this last (almost) year has made me think quite a bit about what my future manager will think when reading this.  I feel quite like the caveman making crude drawings - almost preemptively ashamed of their primitive nature in light of the inevitable progress from future times.  What I write now - and the way I write it - is what I did to serve the customer - now.  I only wonder how that will change in 5 years - or even 10?  A huge focus of my work in academia is to understand the general pulse of the audience.  We estimate there to be 2.5 million or so technical students.  In order for me to understand my reason for being I need to understand what that audience thinks of me.  A daunting task for sure.  Our hope is that social networks will provide a better way to ask students what they want and need from this company.  Only question is - if we ask will they come?  Guess it depends on how we ask...

Nevertheless, this day is quite an auspicious one for Microsofties everywhere - not just become reviews are due.  Our founder - and fearless leader for the last 3 decades: William Gates III left the building (kind of).  Today he officially stepped down from the position of full time chairman to go run his personal endeavor - the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.  Ironically enough, my first job (in high school) for Washington State University involved drafting a grant proposal to the foundation back in its nascent phases.  Now, with an endowment of over 38 billion dollars it's truly a force to be reckoned with.  With more than critical mass I'm very curious and even more exited to see how his big brain wallet impact this little blue marble (unless he joins the "lets build a spaceship crowd").

However, where does that leave Microsoft?  Traditionally, when the fonder leaves the company dies.  There are some notable exceptions who've been able to successfully reinvent themselves to remain competitive.  Will Microsoft become a GE or a GM?  God hopes Ballmer's old office mate (CEO of GE) rubbed off on him.  I'm seeing a dangerous trend of in the company of weakening leadership and a ballooning employee population.  This is a bad trend.  Sooner than later large masses of drones become unmanageable and the whole organization careers out of control (read Breaking Windows) Can our leaders exercise necessary leadership to consolidate our current position and move our behemoth organization forwards?  God I hope so.  Despite everything I have an undying affection for this company.  One of the most democratically run fortune 500s working here I feel like I can make a difference and my voice will be heard.  So what can we do to keep the ball rolling?

Get lean and mean (read Mini-Microsoft: http://minimsft.blogspot.com/).  When I started I expected the hyper type A uber geek culture.  Not so much.  We've trended towards mediocrity.  There are smart people who work fairly diligently.  This is ok for our mature product lines (office + windows) However, in the web space we NEED tiny teams of highly competitive WELL funded superstars.  When I worked for MSN we had a team of 100+ just to figure out who was using our website.  Seriously - too much.

Its about the team not the product: conventional software you can buy - saves a lot of time.  In the new world of web development - where weekly releases are a requirement - you need a strong team - because your product will be obsolete before you even get it out the door.

</rant> *phew* (again)

Ok BillG - stay cool.  You are my hero (I was voted most likely to become him - no joke).

Microsoft - let's be picky about who we're in the foxhole with and get our fighting spirit back!