I've seen the workings of the Redmond mothership from the inside for years. Go ahead and ask questions regarding the experience, my opinions on state and future of the tech industry, horse sized ducks or the meaning of life.

Edit: All opinions are personal and not that of Microsoft. Grabbing lunch - a hungry developer is a sad developer. Keep em coming. Thanks for all the insightful questions and fun discussion!

Edit2: Ah frontpage. Deer in the spotlight. Shameless plug: Those who would one day like to work for Microsoft - have a look at this poster, we do a lot of stuff: http://blogs.technet.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-00-80-73-Blogpost/0285.UR_5F00_Poster_5F00_Front-pdf.pdf (warning 4 MB PDF) More shameless plugs: Walk into a store and check out the new form factors announced at CES: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbDgIH2Yyco and also checkout the Windows Phones at your favorite carrier store - everyone I know including former iPhone and Android fanatics are super happy with theirs.

Edit3: Thanks IceCin: Apparently Win+X menu in Windows 8 is the greatest addition to Windows since XP. So the trio (dev, test, pm) behind this gem: go get drunk tomorrow if you are reading this.

Edit4: Signing off. Thanks everyone for this. Sorry I could not keep up with the number of messages. What I find surprising is that there is only one recent Google employee AMA and a couple other Microsoft AMA's. Given how popular this is I think there should be more of these from tech companies. Those who messaged about the recruiting process I will try to reply sometime over the next week.

You know somethin', Utivich? I think this just might be my masterpiece.

Comments: 5071 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

peanut_Bond1635 karma

Do Microsoft employees use Internet Explorer and Bing?

megamsft1976 karma

Yes most of them do. The practice is called dogfooding - all about using our own products to make them better. However there are no rules against using other browsers or search engines.

BottleRocket20121640 karma


megamsft1798 karma

There is no doubt that we have catching up to do. We even do funny ads acknowledging how bad we were: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD9FAOPBiDk. Bing is getting better all the time - relevance has improved a lot so that I dont need to goto Google which I used to a few years back.

Leprecon231 karma

Just so you know, dogfooding isn't just a microsoft term. It is also used in other companies, like facebook. (where they decided to be funny with it by calling it droidfooding, but the picture makes clear that it is referring to dogfood)

Ironic_Life234 karma

Yep. "Eating your own dogfood" is an industry term for using your own product.

megamsft238 karma

Well we its all the same folks who get around the industry. If you look at it I would say a sizeable portion of Google and Faceook would be ex-Microsoft employees. There is company specific lingo too - I believe there is a mini handbook of Microsoft slang terms hosted on the Intranet for the uninitiated :).

Citizen-Y141 karma

Company lingo and slang terms are powerful agents to the unitiated...but we ARE initiated, aren't we megamsft?

megamsft195 karma

members of the league of shadows ...

fibre_optics1131 karma

How many gates does he have?

I'd imagine that he does have a lot of gates...

megamsft1201 karma

haha funny have an upvote! There was one large gate that I personally saw. His wife and two kids would add up to 3 more ...

Mustachio1087 karma

Did you take a dump at Bill Gate's house?

megamsft715 karma

Ok signed back in to answer this question. Unfortunately I did not. Now that I think about it I should have :(. I am somewhat like George (from Seinfeld) in regards to this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYVBRQ7t46g

NinjaNetizen980 karma


megamsft988 karma

There are a number of under the hood changes - lower memory consumption, faster boot times, faster resume, Defender is now built-in. WinRT apps are going to be fluid and beautiful for consumption and I think the start screen in Win8 is more productive that the start menu. For a desktop user these may not be compelling reasons to upgrade, but for a new PC I think the Win8 choice is obvious given that it is fully compatible with Windows 7.

Lepryy1059 karma

Dat boot time. It's like waking my computer up from sleep mode. Used to be like "alright, I'll go get a snack and come back in a few minutes to see if it's done".

Great job on Win 8.

megamsft1030 karma

Thank you. You made my day. We do so many little things to improve the system and it all adds up. Its humbling to see it have a positive impact.

ChemicalRascal1063 karma

Is it really a positive impact, though?

Because now Lepryy doesn't have time to grab a snack.

Who's gonna grab that snack for him?

megamsft689 karma

Haha we can never keep everyone happy. One man's Bob is another man's Clippy. Also, wait for the Microsoft Personal Robot 2020.

emazur114 karma

How in the world do you think the Win 8 start screen is more productive than the start menu? On start menu, you simply click start then programs and select what you want to run from a tidy list. With Win 8, I have to move my cursor to the bottom left and click a hidden menu, be transported to a completely different interface, right click on an empty space, move my mouse to the bottom right and click a button, be transported to yet another screen that is way oversized so that I have to scroll to find what I want, which is much more difficult now b/c there's so much clutter b/c EVERY item from the programs folders subfolders is displayed. So how exactly is that more productive?

Usually at this point, someone tells me "Why don't you just pin your programs to the taskbar?" or "Why don't you just type the program name into search?". Well I don't like a cluttered taskbar - 4 items is about my limit. For frequently used programs I use desktop shortcuts instead (but hey, maybe the next version of Win 8 will eliminate that option as well). As for not wanting to type the name of the program in search, 1) I prefer to be able to do everything with a mouse (or wireless trackball when I'm away from the keyboard) 2) I don't always KNOW what I want to launch - it's nice to be able to browse through a tidy list and say to myself - "hmm, I haven't run that in a while" or "I had forgotten that I even installed that. I should run it". When I go to a Redbox, isn't it better that I can browse the movies instead of being forced to know exactly what I want to rent in order to type it in? 3) Just like being forced to use 1 program at a time is deevolution, so too is having to type in a program name in order to run it. Win 8 is like DOS on steroids.

And as long as I'm here complaining, here's a couple more for you:

A) the Win 8 compatibility checker failed to tell me that I my Texas Instruments pcixx12 SD card reader or my 56K faxmodem wouldn't work.

B) Tried downloading my first Win 8 app: Pinball Fx2. Did not go well:

1) go to MS store, look at free apps

2) find pinball game & installed

3) need password for MS account to download. Apparently I forgot, so had to reset pw

4) click the link in reset email & entered new password. Told me I can't use this new password b/c it was the same as my old password (the same one I repeatedly tried to enter in step 3. Why didn't it work then?)

5) went back to store, entered password to download game

6) after installing, went to see if it was under the "Games" tile in Win 8 Start screen. It wasn't

7) Scrolled to the far right and found Pinball FX2 tile and clicked

8) Go to game start screen, am told I need to first sign in and accept new terms of agreement for xbox live (I haven't used Xbox Live ~ GFWL, which I'm not sure if they're the same thing since I have no Xbox 360, in several months).

9) exited app, went back to Games tile on Start screen, signed in and accepted TOA

10) Went back to game. Am told I need to sign in so I do

11) Select pinball table to play

12) Black flashing screen with pause/play buttons sort of visible on top

13) Figured my 2007 laptop isn't up to task, so uninstalled

14) Go back to Store to see if sys reqs were listed. They weren't as far as I could tell

15) There is a "Play" button under Pinball FX2 in the store, making me wonder if it actually uninstalled

16) I looked at another game in the store I never installed and it also has a "Play" button instead of "Install" button, so I assume that is normal behavior

17) Wondered why it has to be such as hassle just to play a simple game of pinball

megamsft69 karma

Sorry to hear about the Pinball experience. I hope some redditor from the app compat team will be reading this at some point and fix it. MS store needs a Microsoft account so those extra steps are only for the first download. Hope your experience is better the next time.

Redsnork941 karma

When an application on my computer crashes and I send an error report, where does it go?

megamsft1075 karma

The hidden recycle bin.

Jokes apart (no there is no hidden recycle bin) - its all collected as telemetry. We look at the most frequent crashes for OS issues and first party apps and fix them via Windows update. Third party developers can sign up to see issues and fix them as part of their update process: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb513641%28VS.85%29.aspx

americanpzycho934 karma

Didn't the last guy who did something like this get fired?

megamsft1524 karma

Well this is like a dinner conversation with friends. I am not about to reveal corporate secrets!

Duke_of_Fritzburg741 karma

OP is Bill Gates and he's drunk. We will get nothing any value from this. All PR and done poorly.

megamsft777 karma

Haha I wish. My proof then would have a video being the badass jumping over a chair!

FearlessTeapot735 karma

Since you were at his residence I am assuming you have met the man. He seems like a really nice guy. Is he as nice as i think he is in real life?

megamsft1713 karma

Yes this was at an intern event. He was quite down to earth and humble despite what he had achieved. All the interns mobbed him and started a barrage of questions so I couldn't get to ask any questions unfortunately. Although I have tremendous respect for Steve Jobs, I think Bill will leave a better legacy due to his charitable work in the past decade and going into the future.

DocMcNinja490 karma

Do the progress bars in Windows really work, or do they just semi-randomly fill up to give the user an impression that something is happening?

megamsft1084 karma

Janitor-Hank487 karma

please tell me about his house

i've heard rumors, that he has chips for his family that have information stored on them, so when they go into a room the climate control automatically adjusts the temparature to the prefered temp. saved on those chips ?!

does he have a lot of computers or screens around his house ?

megamsft782 karma

His garage was full of exotic cars - though I couldnt make out the models as it was a fleeting glimpse. I also caught a glimpse of the theater it was pretty huge. Yes there are automatic temperate controls and those that detect a person and adjusts settings and such. The event was held out in his lawns front of the house with a gorgeous view of Lake Washington. I don't recall seeing too many screens though.

icameforthecookies429 karma

Does Bill Gates use an iPad?

megamsft804 karma

I am pretty confident he uses a Surface :). I recall watching an interview where he did say that he and his family use Microsoft products predominantly.

auxiliary-character408 karma

What is your opinion regarding GNU/Linux?

megamsft755 karma

Great example of what can be achieved by collaborative software development that is spread geographically. Tremendous engineering. Linus Torvalds is one of my heroes. As is Dave Cutler. Respect!

icallmyselfmonster351 karma

What percentage of your working hours do you spend browsing the Internet and being generally unproductive?

megamsft587 karma

I'd say and hour or two on most days - sometimes more sometimes less - mostly reddit and browsing tech sites. Its not like there isn't work to do - each product at Microsoft is used by millions of people - and there are always things to fix or improve. So its a big responsibility but I think that letting off the steam occasionally is necessary for a developer. I'd say roughly I end up putting in around 60 hours a week most weeks including the goofing around.

gizombie319 karma

Are you provided with modern phones/tablets as an employee? Does anyone carry iPhones around the office?

megamsft797 karma

Yes every employee received a Surface RT tablet and a Windows Phone 8 (2 year contract not paid for). No devices are banned and no one is forced to use Microsoft products. However employees with iPhones do get friendly jibes for being so Apple-y :).

fixzd243 karma

Have you ever put any secrets/Easter egg in an OS?

megamsft407 karma

Nope. There is less tolerance for that kind of thing these days in all software companies.

Slapmypickle209 karma

Are there any things most people dont know about the job? Biggest perks for working at microsoft? How do you feel about Apple?

megamsft549 karma

Free soda, free coffee, free public transportation, you decide your hours, free to work on weekends/nights, great benefits. You do spend time on support and there is lot more design, discussions and documentation work - it is certainly not like Swordfish with a lone guy in a dark room typing out thousands of lines of code a day :). biggest perk: ability to ship code that millions of people use. Its a humbling experience, that's what motivates me to get up in the morning and go to work. Apple is a great company and the source of the renaissance in the consumer tech industry. Focus is back on apps and devices, whereas for a time there it looked like Web was winning and Google wsas on its way to being the undisputed winner. Big big change and remarkable that all this happened in a matter of few years.

4_to_5_bees206 karma

What was your reaction when you first saw an iPhone years ago? What was the reaction of your colleagues? Did you think "we have to catch up to that"?

megamsft481 karma

To be frank my reaction was the same as Steve Ballmer - for both iPhone and iPad. I thought they were overpriced products that most poeple won't buy - that it would remain a niche for the high end of the market. Boy was I wrong! But then it was apparent in a couple years that we have to catch up to that. I have great respect for Steve Jobs and Apple - they have shown the way, it is up to each one of us in the consumer tech industry to take that vision forward and give it wings.

chad1312199 karma


megamsft269 karma

Someone above claimed some guy got fired. I could send a morphed photo of my ID to a mod. Never done an AMA before so not sure about the mechanics.

amstard199 karma

What did bill smell like? Is it true that he's immortal?

megamsft252 karma

If immortality is invented, I am sure he will be one of the first humans who get to decide whether they want it :).

g894h3i115 karma


megamsft82 karma

Yup I am sorry but most questions are with regards to what's in the future and I cannot comment on any of that. Do you think that the current hybrid system (Win8 running "Metro" Apps and Win 7 apps = Win8 x86) creates unreasonable bloat: Nope, in fact Win8 uses less resources and even disk space! Command line; Powershell is great and adds a lot of value on server OS. Current Win OSes get slower over time: One of the main reasons for the new app model based on the WinRT API. Apps run in a sandbox for security and its a one click uninstall with no remnants in the system.

DrNagatocchi78 karma

As a 16 year old looking to become a programmer or some other job in the IT field, what kind of stuff do you reccomend I do before and during college to prepare myself?

megamsft142 karma

Write and read code. Read good books on software development - there are threads on proggit for this. Keep brushing up on basics - data structures, algorithms. Know things inside out always know what a line of code would do and be inquisitive on how things work under the hood. Work hard while having fun and you will do well.

Textbook29 karma

Read good books on software development

What is your favorite book on software development? Thanks for the AMA btw.

megamsft42 karma

Writing Solid Code, Programming Pearls, The C Programming Language, Algorithm Design (Kleinberg, Tardos) and many more.

ThePowerOfGrayskull32 karma

Poptarts or Toaster Strudel?

megamsft9 karma

I'm conflicted. One of the questions to which I don't have a straight answer. I guess both if that's an option :P

more_whiskey_please17 karma

Is his house as cool as people say it is?

megamsft23 karma

You bet it is! It is one of the costliest homes ever built.

cmsonger16 karma

You seem really enthused about 8. As a person who's used it a lot, I think that MS has missed the mark in this first rev and consumers as well as device makers seem to agree with me.

IMO: the biggest mistake was getting rid of the start menu in desktop mode. RT/new UI seem an OK attempt to compete with Apple/Android. Yes, the RT SDK is kind of lame and has lots of weird omissions and warts, but it's v1; that will get better.

The problem is that MS trained people for years and years to use a start menu; and the idea that coupling the "we really want people to like our tablet UI" with "we should get rid of the start menu that people have been using in our highest volume market" was a horrible idea -- made worse by how appalling it is to use the new UI without touch.

Still, MS iterates fast. Good luck working on the next version. Maybe you guys can pull it out of the fire before Android and iOS tablets eat into notebook/license sales to cause the whole thing to implode. That would be a loss, MS does some good stuff.

freemarket273 karma

also, windows is about windows. Not full screen apps. Why force users to work full screen when they do not want to.

megamsft1 karma

You have multi-tasking even now - on PCs and tablets. You can pin two apps side by side even mix and match fullscreen apps and traditional desktop apps. On multi-monitor you can have desktop apps pinned to one monitor and use start screen / full screen app on the other.


VancouverDangler12 karma

Good work on Windows 8. Even though its not 100% there, I can see where you guys are going with it on a visionary basis.

A couple of questions:

What was the reason for Windows RT given what Intel is showing it can do with Atom?

Does MS still think pen input is an integral part of tablets like they did back in 2002?

What do you think is the best feature of Windows 8 that will turn around naysayers? (Personally the Charms are huge)

megamsft23 karma

Windows has historically supported more than one processor architecture. My opinion is that given how much success ARM has had on low power mobile devices it was an obvious choice. I dont have visibility into very high level decision making. The Atom is exciting news. Intel is very good at what they do. Again my opinion not Microsoft's - Pen input is not integral but more of a add-on to a touch device. Touch is getting more and more accurate - Lumia phones even allow touch input on a 4 inch screen with gloves on! - but for niche tasks like graphic design and I think it adds a human touch. The Surface Pro comes with a pen. The crux of the vision and the platform is there with Windows 8. Thanks for recognizing the potential of charms. I think Win8 is a much more complex interface than the iPad and allows for more gestures, sharing is baked in. As the ecosystem keeps on developing over time with apps and services - you will see the OS experience becoming richer too. Btw the new Microsoft web pages are cool, check out http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/home

TrashCanKitten4 karma

Since it seems to be a trend where MS releases a good OS and then a bad one, followed by a good one. (XP - Vista - 7) would you say that Windows 8 has fallen into the same category as Vista?

megamsft2 karma

Win8 is a great product. You need to try it on a touchscreen PC / tablet to really understand how amazing the interface is with touch. however with a new interface and so many changes it will take time for adoption. I believe right now its about selling as many copies as Windows 7 did in the initial few months (as per publicly released official figures) - and Windows 7 came to the market after years of pent up demand after XP :).

freemarket272 karma

Any experience with the MSDN side of the company? I can't get questions answered on the MSDN forums for desktop programming. It is like, if you are not Metro, the entire company does not give a crap. And so much of the windows and shell programming APIs are poorly documented that you need a place to go with technical questions. My experience programming .NET is great, but windows native is just terrible for the programmer.

megamsft2 karma

The future is WinRT. As you said .Net is great. There are very few folks doing native development anymore. I am sure you could Bing/Google to find answers elsewhere on the web - stackoverflow and such. There are only so many folks who take time out to help on the MSDN forums so I would assume they have to prioritize the new APIs. If you have specific questions PM them to me and I will forward them to the right person to get them resolved. Edit: Replaced Metro with WinRT the proper name for the API. Old habits die hard.

iddn2 karma

What were the feelings of MS developers who worked on Win 8 about its shitness?

megamsft12 karma

Win 8 is a remarkable product. It has been all about reinventing the platform for a mobile and touch era. The amount of work gone into making it power friendly, touch friendly, with a complete new application model, API and all of this while retaining the compatibility with even years old applications was monumental. It is and will remain one of most complex engineering efforts undertaken at Microsoft.

UltraSPARC23 karma

I do agree that reinventing a platform for the mobile and touch era is absolutely essential. Yet don't you think it would have made more sense to grow the Windows Mobile 7 for Phone (or whatever they're calling it these days) into the tablet/gadget ecosystems - and kept the desktop operating out of it? Win 8 feels like it tries to be too many things in one package. Sort of a jack of all trades, master of none kind of vibe going on with it. I hate to say it, but Apple has been very successful with this approach (Mac OS X and iOS). Don't get me wrong, Apple has been blurring the lines recently - but it's mostly been adding features from the other OS that help compliment each other.

First thing I did as a power user was install a Start button on my workstation and disabled all of the annoying hot corners. Don't even get me started on Server 2012, do you know how hard it is to hit the hot corners in a windowed RDP connection?!?!?! I had MSDN help troubleshoot an Exchange 2013 issue the other day, and even he was getting pissed off with it. Oh, and while we're on Exchange 2013 - what. the. actual. fuck. Seriously, who the hell thought it'd be a good idea to replace the ever so versatile Exchange management console with a bare bone website that isn't even capable of changing a quarter of the settings EMC was!!! Also Metro, why must you subject me to an interface made for smartphones on a power user desktop and server?!

In closing, I hope you were not the one behind so many of these heinous changes that really pissed most of your customers off.

Edit: OK I realize this came off as quite harsh. I will say that the task bar being on multiple displays is a very nice touch, the new task manager is awesome, and there are some pretty cool new group policies. Sorry for the rant, just a bit frustrating when it seems that your UI department is out to lunch most days.

megamsft3 karma

The user interface is brand new and there are a few rough edges (pun intended :P). As to Server 2012 it is being gushed as the best server release ever. I think with the PowerShell improvements - as a server admin - you would very rarely need to interact with the start screen. Treat the start screen as a screen full of shortcuts and a universal search and you would begin to like it over time. This thread might be of interest to you: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/winserver8gen/thread/a1a77d18-bbb6-4657-bd99-338294f13039

pseudolobster8 karma

Has it occurred to anyone that hamfistedly forcing the desktop into a mobile phone platform might not be "the way of the future"?

Are you aware that most desktops do not have and never will have a touchscreen?

These are very basic questions many MS customers are asking themselves, and we find it unfathomable that seemingly no one at MS asked themselves these questions at all during the development of W8.

megamsft4 karma

No its all about a single platform across all screen types. Its about making the transition seamless from your cell phone to tablet to PC to TV. Familiar interface and even interesting scenarios like SmartGlass where two or more of these devices you own interplay. As I see it Microsoft has all the pieces in place to create magic over the next decade. I do acknowledge that some of our competitors are also in a great position to own the next decade.

DaveIsYoDaddy2172 karma

What is bill gates like personality wise?

megamsft2 karma

Humble and wicked smart :).

eco_971 karma

Any tips for a fresh college grad interviewing for a position at MS?

megamsft3 karma

If this is for an engineering position, brush up on basics - algorithms, language features. Be comfortable with one language - no need for mastery over the latest and greatest even C would do fine. Think aloud when you solve a programming problem - people want to see how you think, and how you will be as a future team mate - so its not just about technical skills.

therealjuion1 karma

How well qualified do you need to be to start a career at Microsoft?

megamsft1 karma

You would need a college degree to have good chances. Doesn't matter if it is not a top University. Work hard wherever you are, do things and build a good resume. End of the day your passion matters more than how smart you are. I have seen hard working people do great things. It would be good to get in touch with someone who works in the tech industry to know the options you have - there is a huge variety of roles but majority of the work force is engineering followed by marketing.

jubbing0 karma

How can I get into Sales and/or marketing at Microsoft? It seems like an amazing company to work for :)

megamsft1 karma

Its a great time to be in tech! Build a relevant resume. Research tech products in the area that interests you and learn all there is to know about the industry in your spare time. Join meetup groups where folks pitch and discuss the latest in tech. After you build this background over a year or so apply through the website. A college degree or diploma will improve your chances a lot. Sales/Marketing is a large org so I am sure there will be some role waiting for you :).