A View from Elsewhere

John Montgomery's Weblog

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  • Blog Post: Welcome to Popfly

    Today (that'd be Friday) we're announcing Microsoft Popfly(tm) , which is the project my team has been working on. It's a simple, web-based tool that makes it easy to create mashups, web pages, and so on. We also have a Visual Studio 2005 package that enables you to connect VS to Popfly. This is a...
  • Blog Post: RTB Finished

    One of the meetings that our division inflicts regularly schedules is called "running the business" (formerly they were called "rhythm of the business" but I think someone noticed that we don't got rhythm). Our team had its RTB meeting today. It went well, with Adam Nathan delivering a stellar demo and...
  • Blog Post: Power Outage

    This morning, building 41 lost power. Steven Wilssens (one of the PMs on my team) and I were just settling into some deep conversation when everything went black and the fire alarm started whooping and periodically saying, "Lobby, lobby, lobby" in an awful mechanical voice. So we all adjourned to the...
  • Blog Post: Calculating Operational Costs

    One of my tasks over the weekend was to calculate how much it would cost to operate a service. I can't tell you what the service is, of course, since actually providing useful context is far beyond the scope of this blog. ;-) However, I had a good sit-down with Excel 12 on Saturday morning and began...
  • Blog Post: Doing the Happy Dance

    After a review with SomaSe last week in which we demoed what I'll just call "our stuff" (though the credit belongs to Adam Nathan , who really needs to update his blog), we went yesterday to present to Bob Muglia. The last time I presented to Bob in any way, shape, or form, I was a director of marketing...
  • Blog Post: Job Descriptions

    I’ve found that writing job descriptions is harder than I thought. In particular, it’s harder because I’m writing for so many audiences: for the internal developers and PMs who might be interested, the external folks, for other managers, and so on. Here’s one. What would make it better? Software...
  • Blog Post: NPT Team Charter

    After about four months of working through some hard problems, I’ve begun to center our team on a few core work areas. Based a lot on the feedback you gave me through this blog, I narrowed it to three work areas: We’re going to start by building on the momentum of the current Visual Studio Express...
  • Blog Post: Non-Pro Tools Team PUM

    We have a PUM. Paramesh Vaidyanathan who ran the India Developer Center for Developer Division – a team of something like 100 people – has decided he wants to come back to the US to run the Non-Professional Tools Team (NPT – our team). I’m incredibly excited. I’ve worked with Paramesh before as his...
  • Blog Post: What We’re Doing: Cool Tools

    While I’ve been running around creating PPTs and sending email, Adam has been working on a prototype development experience that’s designed to take someone with no knowledge of code through to creating simple Web sites with HTML and Javascript or VBscript, teaching them along the way about things like...
  • Blog Post: Adam Nathan Joins Non-Pro Tools Team

    We have our first developer. Adam Nathan has joined us. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the soul behind Pinvoke.net , a community site dedicated to getting good coverage of .NET’s Pinvoke functionality (which he largely wrote). I knew Adam was the right guy when, on the weekend between...
  • Blog Post: We Have a Name: NPT

    We still need a name for the team. Since none of the ideas we came up with previously seemed to pass the internal sniff test (go figure), I decided that I’d opt for naming it descriptively: the Non-Professional Tools Team, or NPT for short. We’re still working on tools for hobbyists and novices and...
  • Blog Post: After HTML and Javascript, C++

    Surprising factoid: after HTML and Javascript, C++ is the language most used by non-professional developers (including students, hobbyists, etc.). This based on some of our internal research over the past 4 years (statistically significant sample, but US-only). I would have expected VB or maybe a dynamic...
  • Blog Post: Dumb Idea Nipped in the Bud: Film at 11

    Have you ever sat down and thought up some brilliant thing, then realized, “Why bother?” Today during an interview, a candidate related a question he was asked about how he’d implement a particular feature. To me, the feature (it’s not important what the feature was) sounded cool – just the kind of thing...
  • Blog Post: How Did You Learn to Program?

    How did you learn to program? Especially if you’re not a professional developer and never had been (I already have the data that says that something like 70% of professional developers got degrees in computer science or engineering). I’m wondering how you learned to program if you aren’t a pro. What...
  • Blog Post: Who's the Customer?

    Who is the target user for our non-professional tools? In order to make smarter decisions about what we build, we need to understand that the customer we’re building this product for doesn’t fit a single profile. Off the top of my head, I can think of five personas/stereotypes: “Jay,” the professional...
  • Blog Post: Principles for First-Use Tools

    Even as we’re working out the potential features for the next version of Visual Studio Express, we’re looking beyond that. Express has done an amazing job (5M downloads!) of getting development tools into the hands of many people. The feedback we’ve gotten has been amazing and satisfaction rates are...
  • Blog Post: Can Advertising in Windows Client Software Work?

    MSN Messenger does it. Quicken does it. There’s a fair amount of Windows client software that has advertising – the same kind of banner ads present on most Web sites. But there are challenges to ad-powered client software, ranging from technical (how do you create an offline ad store) to sociological...
  • Blog Post: Thinkweek Paper Done and Submitted

    Thanks to Kunal Mukerjee (my coauthor and the guy who wrote the entire first draft), our Thinkweek paper is done and submitted to the internal site. What's interesting about this year is that it's not just a couple of BillG's technical assistants making the selections about what BillG sees: every paper...
  • Blog Post: Hosted Software Development Tools

    When I first thought about Tuscany, this was the first thing that sprang to mind: Hosted Team Foundation Server (TFS). I sensed that developers in small organizations want to have private access to TFS features such as check-in/check-out, defect tracking, and so on without having to set up and administer...
  • Blog Post: Think Week for a Developer Marketplace

    I was lured. Each year, Bill Gates retires with a stack of “ think week ” papers to get a sense of what some new ideas might be. This year, I was lured into working on one by one of my coworkers who’d heard about the Tuscany ideas and thought there was an opportunity to broaden the marketplace one. ...
  • Blog Post: The Non-Professional Team

    I work on the non-professional team. No, this doesn’t mean that we come to work late, drink heavily on the job, and dress in fuzzy slippers and bathrobes (though there have been times…). This means that, unlike the bulk of the rest of the Visual Studio team, my team is chartered with looking at people...
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