Moving to Windows Phone Engineering

It has been 3 months since my last post. Mostly this is due to TB and I moving to less frequent Owen updates—which reminds me we still need to post a 2 1/4 year photo. We have also fallen victim to the Facebook craze which most our family and friends use to keep up with our latest goings-on.

However, it is also due to my recent move to the Windows Phone Division from the Developer Division. Good thing I began my switch to Windows Phone when it debuted last year, eh?

I spent my entire 13 years at Microsoft in DevDiv working on a litany of platforms and tools developers have used to build consumer and enterprise applications for mostly desktop computers and servers. Now, I am off doing pretty much the same thing, building application platforms, but this time targeting mobile devices. Phones are obviously an exciting place to be with all the buzz and tremendous growth surrounding iOS and Android. Having worked on several seminal products—including Visual J++, ASP.NET 1.0 and Silverlight 1.0—I am accustomed to being the underdog in the highly-charged race to woo developers to nascent technology. Perhaps I will start a series on what I think makes Windows Phone special having spent the last few years as an iPhone devotee. Stay tuned…

In other news, Owen started playing soccer in Arena Sports Lil’ Kickers. He’s in the Thumpers (2-3 year old) group where they mostly run around, kick stuff, and learn to follow the coach’s instructions. It is really funny watching him develop and a good way to get the family outdoors each Saturday morning.

Owen’s First Soccer Practice

Microsoft gives employee special Halloween treat

We have great benefits at Microsoft. One category of benefits involves commuting which includes free bus passes, Connector buses, and designated parking spots for carpools/vanpools. For example, I take the bus to work a couple days each week using my free bus pass. TB and I are registered carpoolers for the times we ride together.

Carpoolers share a single parking badge which must be displayed whenever a vehicle is parked in one of the designated spots. On several occasions when we both drive, I have admittedly broken the rules by parking my car in a carpool spot without the badge. Four or five times over the past 10 years I have received parking violations from Microsoft Security reminding me that I cannot park my car in a carpool spot without displaying the badge. Nothing more has ever happened but each citation stated the violation would be recorded and my car is subject to immediate towing.

Well, yesterday, Halloween, a Friday when I was at work until 7:30 PM, the big payback hit like a sledgehammer. A security officer with the initials JH had the 626 towed, y’all. My baby was in lockup for the first time.

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We made the New York Times

Remember that new job I started two months back? Well, we have been hard at work preparing for our first public release. I’m happy to report we went live this past Tuesday as the new & shiny Silverlight Toolkit, which will have surpassed 10,000 downloads by the time you read this.

What’s really cool is we were briefly mentioned in the New York Times on Wednesday as part of the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference in LA this week.

Silverlight Toolkit in the New York Times

That is a pretty big deal for a new team like ours. We are already working on the next release since part of our charter is shipping new controls with full source code early and often.

So you’re probably thinking, "Why should I care? I’m not creating a Silverlight application anytime soon." First, stop hating. 🙂 Second, the answer is that Silverlight is growing rapidly and gaining ubiquity so you will likely experience many of your favorite sites through Silverlight in the future. For example, Netflix announced this week it will begin using Silverlight to bring its on-demand, instant streaming feature to both PCs and Macs by end of year. See, Silverlight is for movie lovers too.

Happy Halloween!

My new job

I started a new job as the Group Program Manager (GPM) of the Presentation Platform Controls (PPC) team, back on August 25 .

I decided to return to my roots in the product group after 33 months in marketing. I had a blast in marketing and will miss my team and responsibilities as Director of Product Management for Microsoft Expression dearly. Why leave? Two reasons.

First, as those of you who have followed my blog can attest, I am a big Silverlight fan and my new gig gives me direct responsibility for helping the technology succeed. My new team is tasked with delivering first-party controls for Silverlight. That includes basic components for building user interfaces like button, textbox and label in addition to advance controls like calendar, datagrid and scrollview.

Second, I missed the day-to-day aspects of creating the products that will reach billions. As GPM, I will be leading the program management discipline for the PPC team. You can learn more about what program managers do at Microsoft on the Microsoft career site.

I moved offices and began getting settled into my new job before heading out for a vacation in Belgium the week of Labor Day. That post is coming up next.

Keith@MSFT: 3,653 days and counting

Today, June 22, 2008, marks my tenth year as a full-time regular employee at the world’s largest software company.

Ten years at a single company is a long time in this industry, but it has passed rather quickly. Milestones are exciting and I always look forward to reaching them the closer they get. As for the gifts, I got a clock at 5 years but it no longer keeps the time. To commemorate my tenth year I will receive a massive Lucite desk ornament that resembles a crystal structure that would make the Son of Jor-El proud. (You all remember Marlon Brando as Superman’s father in Superman, right?)

What have I been able to accomplish in 10 years at the ‘Soft? First, here are the products I have shipped over the years:

  1. Visual J++ (Windows Foundation Classes DHTML Controls)
  2. Internet Explorer 5 (DHTML Editing Control)
  3. Visual Studio 2002 (Web Forms Designer)
  4. ASP.NET 1.0 (Performance & Stress)
  5. Visual Studio 2003 (Windows Forms Designer)
  6. Visual Studio 2005 (Visual Web Developer)
  7. ASP.NET AJAX 1.0
  8. Windows Vista (IIS7)
  9. Silverlight 1.0
  10. Windows Server 2008 (IIS7)
  11. Visual Studio 2008 (Visual Web Developer)
  12. Expression Studio 2 (Web, Blend, Design, Media, Encoder, Subscription)

I also helped orchestrate the launch of the following Microsoft sites over the last 2 years:

Yes, I have met Bill and Steve. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with James who has been on Microsoft’s Board of Directors since 2001.

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