I've always loved this company. I've only worked here two years, but the love affair began long, long ago (although it was in this galaxy). I remember, back in the 80s, thinking how Microsoft had changed the world of software forever. In fact, when I told my parents I got hired at Microsoft a little over two years ago, my mom said, "Well, you've wanted to work there since you were a kid." That tells you a little about me -- most kids want to grow up to be doctors, fire fighters, police officers, etc. Me? I wanted to grow up to work at Microsoft. (And, to be fair, I also wanted to be Spiderman. I'm still working on that one.) One of the reasons is because I am a geek. It's in my blood and, quite possibly, my DNA. I've always been a geek. And I am proud of the fact. I don't even try to hide it. I'll talk technology with anyone anywhere anytime. I've always thought Microsoft did some amazing work, but never so much as now.
I just got back from MGX, which is the annual worldwide sales and marketing meeting for Microsoft employees (or Microsofties, as we're affectionately known). While I was there, I saw some amazing things. Some of it, naturally, is top secret, and not for public consumption yet. But a lot of it is technology that is already out there and just waiting for you to stumble upon it. A good example of this is www.worldwidetelescope.org. This, like Google Sky, is a program which combines data from a variety of telescopes to give you a view of the night sky. Quite frankly, that's where the similarities end. If you really want to see how incredible this program is, install the free download, go to the Guided Tours, and watch the Ring Nebula tour, guided by a 6 year-old named Benjamin. Wow.
Did you know that Microsoft is involved in HIV vaccine research? And not just from a "let's donate some money" angle. Microsoft Research actually created software to help analyze the virus, which is apparently having quite an impact on the problem. Based on what you hear about Microsoft on a regular basis, I am sure your first question is, "How much are they charging?" Nothing. Not a cent. It's open source software released at no cost to the HIV research community in hopes that someone can use it to help find a vaccine. In the tech world, it seems Microsoft-bashing is prevalent (and often appears compulsory if you want to be in the "cool clique"). But no one ever mentions anything like this. No one tells the world at large the incredible works we do on a regular basis. And that leads me back to my original purpose in making this my very first post on my new blog -- I LOVE this company.
I love the software we create. I love the good work that we do. I love the incredible people I work with on a daily basis. I love the culture that not only allows, but encourages me to speak out when we do something wrong. And there is something we're doing wrong -- our marketing is not good. We often let others tell our story for us instead of doing it ourselves. As an example, how many of you have seen a Mac vs. PC Apple ad on TV? In contrast, how many of you have seen a Windows Vista advertisement? Based on those commercials, you would think Vista is a horrible operating system full of bugs, right? In reality, Vista has made some big strides forward in security. You can read all about how many bugs we patched, versus Mac or Linux, but that's not what this is about. I'm not here to bash anyone else's product. In fact, I am so tired of that. I just want to tell you about our products. It's something we, as a company, don't always do well. In fact, that very thing prompted cartoonist/blogger/marketer extraordinaire Hugh MacLeod to create a new (and unofficial) Microsoft logo -- the Blue Monster.
In his own words:
The headline works on a lot of different levels:
Microsoft telling its potential customers to change the world or go home.
Microsoft telling its employees to change the world or go home.
Microsoft employees telling their colleagues to change the world or go home.
Everybody else telling Microsoft to change the world or go home.
Everyone else telling their colleagues to change the world or go home.
And so forth.
Microsoft has seventy thousand-odd employees, a huge percentage them very determined to change the world, and often succeeding. And millions of customers with the same idea.
Basically, Microsoft is in the world-changing business. If they ever lose that, they might as well all go home.
The first time I saw this, I knew it was special. It represents My Microsoft -- the world-changing company that does great work, even if no one ever knows it. And that was part of the creation of the Blue Monster, too. More from Hugh's blog:
The Blue Monster was designed as a conversation starter. To paraphrase the ongoing dialogue between Steve and I:
For too long, Microsoft has allowed other people- the media, the competition and their detractors, especially- to tell their story on their behalf, instead of doing a better job of it themselves.
We firmly believe that Microsoft must start articulating their story better- what they do, why they do it, and why it matters- if they're to remain happy and prosperous long-term.
If they can do this, well, we don't expect people in their millions to magically start loving Microsoft overnight, but perhaps it might get people- including the people who work there- to start thinking differently. Small moves.
That's how I see Microsoft -- a great company that isn't able to fully articulate its own story. Perhaps it has gotten too large to do so effectively. Perhaps there are other reasons of which I am not aware. But, that's where I come in. I work on the Microsoft Across America team. My job is evangelizing Microsoft and our products across this great land. We travel to cities all over the United States giving presentations on our products and how to use them effectively in your organization. And it is a job I love. I wake up every day proud to be part of this organization and looking forward to the tasks in front of me.
While I can never forget how much I love this company and all of the great things we do, I wanted a daily reminder of the fact that I, as a Microsoftie, need to change the world every single day. That is why, as part of MGX this year, I decided to fully embrace the Blue Monster and all it stands for. That is my very own Blue Monster tattoo (and yes, he is real!). He's there to make sure I don't forget why I am here and what it is that I am doing -- changing the world.
I plan on using this blog as a forum to tell the Microsoft story -- how our products can help in your organization and how you can get the most out of the products you have purchased. Above all, this blog is for you. Feel free to use the "E-Mail" button to send me feedback -- tell me what you want me to write about. Post comments to the blog -- let me know what you think. This is a great forum to tell me (and Microsoft as a whole) what you think. Come out to one of our events and learn more about how we can help you help yourself.
Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, is famous (or infamous, depending on who you talk to) for often shouting the phrase, "I love this company!"
He may look a bit frantic on occasion, but you have to admit -- he's got a lot of passion for Microsoft. One of these days, I hope to meet Steve. There's something I want to say to him. I've got it all planned out. "Steve? I love this company, too. Now, let's go get you a Blue Monster." 🙂