I have good news and bad news to share today.
First, the bad news. Craig Eisler, MacBU General Manager, has accepted a promotion within Microsoft. While I'm going to hugely miss him, I know that he's going to do some great things, and I'm really pleased to have been able to work with him for his time here. Whenever the AppleTV gets an update, I'll think of him.
But the good news is that our new General Manager is a MacBU original. Eric Wilfrid, who has been with MacBU since its inception (he started out as a PowerPoint developer), has risen through the ranks and is now our GM. I'm sure that lots of you have met him over the years. He's written a short introductory post over at Mac Mojo, and the folks over at Macworld have an interview with him.
Today, we have made Office 12.1.4 available. For a small number of customers, the 12.1.3 update that we released a couple of weeks ago broke their ability to send and respond to Exchange invitations. When the first reports of the problem started coming in, the Entourage team buckled down to track down the issue and get a fix out to our users. The download is available via Mactopia now. It usually takes an extra few hours for the fixes to propagate out to our Auto-Update servers, so you might not see it if you run Microsoft Auto-Update immediately.
For more details about the fix, as well as details about what we're doing to avoid this kind of problem again, Andy Ruff posted more details to Mac Mojo in the post titled 12.1.4 fixes Entourage meeting invite issue.
Here at Microsoft, October is our annual giving campaign. It seems we're not the only ones to spend our October thinking about others: MacLife magazine is participating in the DonorsChoose.org Blogger Challenge. If you donate as little as $1, you'll be entered to win one of their many prizes -- and they've got Office:Mac 2008 Special Media Edition on their prize list. More details about MacLife's participation are here, and read more about it in their top ten reasons to donate.
Go forth and give!
My colleage Schwieb, one of our senior developers, put up an awesome post today titled Risks and Rewards. It's about the decision-making process involved in making changes to our existing apps, as well as discussing the long-running Spaces issue. It's a lengthy post, but there's a lot of meat in there. If you're interested in the Spaces issues that you see in Office 2008, you should read this now.
Tuesday officially began OOPSLA 2008. The day started off with a keynote from Mark Lehner, an archaeologist who found, after being invited to talk at OOPSLA, surprising parallels between his work in Egypt and reading about Grady Booch's work. I found his talk to be quite illuminating, both in terms of Egypt and how we can learn lessons from that field and apply them to software engineering.
Next up, I attended Dick Gabriel's essay titled "Designed as Designer". It was an extended reaction to Fred Brooks' OOPSLA 2007 keynote. Gabriel argued that Brooks puts too much emphasis on the single software designer, whereas everyone takes in input from around them in ways big and small.
In the afternoon, I chaired a lightning talks session. The session turned into an extended hallway conversation as we discussed both Gabriel's and Lehner's talks. One of my favourite parts of OOPSLA is the hallway conversation; this session allowed me to chat with people that I might not otherwise have done and learn what their responses were to these sessions.
Every time I come here, I'm always impressed by the people that I meet in the sessions and outside of them. As a result, I always look forward to October.
Today is the day before OOPSLA officially begins. Tutorials and workshops are going on today, with the technical program starting tomorrow. I'm here for the Welcome Reception tonight, during which the posters are on display, and the first round of the Student Research Competition is conducted.
As I picked up my registration materials this morning, the registration chair handed me a list of Greek gods and goddesses. It was OOPSLA-ised. Gail Harris, our conference chair, is Artemis. Mamdouh, current steering committee chair, is Hades. I'm Aphrodite. I'm not quite sure how to respond to that ...
This is probably going to get lost in all of the discussion of the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros, but just in case you feel like taking a break from all of that, Update Tuesday has delivered new updates to Office 2008 and Office 2004.
Office 2008 12.1.3 has suite-wide improvements in performance, stability, and security. It's also got some fixes that I'm sure will make some folks happy. In Word, we've made some improvements to our EndNote support. In PowerPoint, opening a file no longer changes the saved time timestamp. In Excel, we tracked down issues that caused "not enough memory" errors when saving. And in Entourage, we fixed a problem that would result in events being duplicated when viewed in Outlook or OWA. For full details, our knowledge base article for the update. To update to 12.1.3, you need to already have 12.1.2 installed.
Office 2004 11.5.2 has suite-wide improvements in reliability and security, as well as a couple of tweaks for Excel. The knowledge base article for the update has the full details. To install 11.5.2, you need to already have 11.5.1 installed.
As a bonus update, we also updated our standalone Office Open XML converters to make security improvements. The knowledge base article for the update has more details. To install this update, you need version 1 of the converter installed.
If you can drag yourself away from drooling over the new laptops (so sez the woman reconsidering whether she wants a MacBook Air), you can go forth and update.
I recently was asked how I came to be here. I thought that I'd answered this question before, but I couldn't find it in the archives. Since tomorrow is the third anniversary of this blog (and my third anniversary of working for Microsoft was last Friday), it seems like a good time to address this question.
My recruiter tells this story wrong. He tells it by starting off with him contacting me via IM. That's true, but it's not the whole story, certainly not for Mac users.
I came to my job via the MacRumors forums. I had created an account there a few years ago to ask a question. When filling out my profile, I listed my real location and my then-current job title, as well as my IM screen names. MacBU had a position open and hadn't been able to find someone with the right amount of experience and Mac-ness, and the recruiter was on a mission to find the right person. He somehow stumbled across my profile on MacRumors, and sent me an IM asking if the details in my profile were accurate.
I was skeptical. First, why would a Microsoft recruiter contact me via IM? Second, why would I want to work for Microsoft? But I agreed to chat with him, and then did a phone interview with the hiring manager a few days later. When they extended me an invitation to do an in-person interview in Redmond, I hesitated, but finally decided to take it. I still wasn't convinced at the idea of working for Microsoft, but I figured that the worst thing that would come out of it was that I would use up one of my plethora of vacation days to visit Seattle.
It wasn't until I had been interviewed by the third person that I warmed up to the idea of working for Microsoft. By the end of the day, I was convinced. Part of what convinced me was that I learned that I was dealing with dedicated Mac users, people who understood what made the Mac unique and wanted to have a part in creating software for it. Part of it was wanting to take part in the challenge of making software that's used by people ranging from soccer moms sending out their holiday letters to writers during in book drafts with hundreds of pages.
What's next? My main focus for the next version of Office is working on the future of Entourage, with a side of some cross-suite work. There's some cool stuff coming up in the future, which hopefully I'll be able to start talking about in the next few months.
Serving as Development Chair for OOPSLA gave me lots of opportunities to see the plan for OOPSLA as it was being put together, and I'm really excited to be able to be in Nashville for it.
My schedule for OOPSLA looks like this:
Somewhere in there, I'll probably find time to put together a Birds of a Feather meeting for the women of OOPSLA, as well as for Mac users.
It's gonna be a great week! If you're joining me in Nashville, email me so we can chat. If you haven't yet registered for OOPSLA, registration is open now. Our tutorial programme is on Sunday, 19 October 2008, and Monday, 20 October 2008. The conference kicks off on Tuesday, 21 October 2008, and runs through the end of Thursday, 23 October 2008. If you've got questions about OOPSLA, feel free to post a comment.
In case any of you aren't reading the posts over at Mac Mojo, I wrote a new post there yesterday titled "share and enjoy" about how folks here in MacBU share our expertise with other Mac developers in Microsoft.