Posted by: kurtsh | October 9, 2005

Who am I?

Hi.  Welcome to my blog.  I was recently asked the very basic question, "Who am I?" and I realized that I don’t actually have any sort of free form description of myself or my role so I figured, heck, why not?
I’ve been working for Microsoft since 1995 as a Systems Engineer.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with that position, it’s basically a pre-sale technical sales role.  Back in the 80’s, it was common for a single salesperson (Account Executive) to speak to customers, manage licensing contracts, and demonstrate products.  Some time in the early 90’s, it was deemed near impossible for one person to accomplish all 3 tasks with the exploding number of products that we were creating.  So in addition to the Account Exec role, we produced a role called the Systems Engineer, similar to what IBM had, whose responsibility was to understand and explain the usage and implementation of our technologies and how they could be best used together. 
I’m a Operating Systems and Management Technologies specialist, which in Microsoft-speak means I cover any product with the word "Windows" in it, and any product with the word, "Manage" in it, such as Systems Management Server and Operations Manager.
My favorite technologies include:
  • Windows Mobile, an operating system for PDAs & Phones that rivals PalmOS, MobileLinux, & Blackberry.  It comes in 3 flavors that operate on Pocket PC, Pocket PC Phones, and Smartphones.
  • Windows Media, the world’s most popular Streaming Media technology and part of Windows Server 2003.  It includes the following products:  Windows Media Player 10, Windows Media Server 9.0, Windows Media Encoder 9.0, Windows Media Codec 9.0, and Windows Digital Rights Management.
  • Certificate Services, an amazingly versatile technology that comes with Windows Server 2003.  It is what enables Windows Server file system encryption, IIS 6.0 web server SSL-encryption, 802.1x wireless networking encryption, VBscript & Office document signing, S-MIME email encryption, smart card authentication, wireline IPSec networking encryption, secure VPN connectivity… it goes ON and ON.  Good god – I can’t believe we give this stuff away with Windows Server 2003.
  • Rights Management Services, a highly useful, hardly known technology that not only secures & encrypts Office documents & web pages (per user or group), but it also regulates HOW PEOPLE USE THOSE DOCUMENTS & WEB PAGES as in, "Can I print it?  Can I cut & paste content from it?  Can I screen capture it?", and it also logs all uses of said content.
I love this company.  I mean, I really do.  And I don’t mean that in a ass-kissing, I-hope-I-don’t-get-fired-for-this-blog, Eddie Haskel way.  I’ve worked at 3 of the largest companies in the world, and a few smaller independent organizations and especially after seeing how many other companies operate, Microsoft is truly the best of many different worlds. 
Where else can someone work with:
– smart, creative, thoughtful minds and the power to recruit them
– the funding & executive backing to develop a technology over time from 1.0 to 3.0
– a CEO like Steve Ballmer that embodies the spirit of the company and is approachable enough to personally talk to
– a cultural icon like Bill Gates that symbolizes the attitude & drive of the company
– the existing tools & technologies to built interconnected systems and products to virtually guarantee market integration
I know that there are people that have left the company in pursuit for "something better" and I laugh.  I’ve been at this company for 10 years:  I’ve seen y’all come and go… and then come back again.  Throughout the Directory battles with Novell in the mid 90’s, Internet boom of the late 90’s, the thin client wars of the same era, & the Java wars of the early 2000’s – I saw people leave and eventually come back.  Yes – COME BACK.  Folks – that’s the story that no one ever reports.   Microsoft isn’t just run by people who firmly believe in the company, but also by people I call the "humbled":  Folks that are casualties of .COM failures and stillborn startups, with companies like, "PETS.COM" and "ETOYS.COM" clogging up their resume.
Now the headlines talk about the open source wars of late, and the supposed "Mini-MSFT" binge.  Proof that even smart people get mentally lethargic and forget everything we have here is all around the headlines… PhD types start thinking that the grass is greener next door at Google, some IPTV start up or whatever.  Folks like Mark Lucovsky, one of the people I admire for his work on Windows NT who was one of two high profile individuals that left Microsoft for Google (other than Kai Fu Lee), are proof that ego can lobotomize even the most distinguished individuals and get them to completely dismiss the power, strength, and "ability to get things done", of Microsoft.
Which brings me to my final point about the company:  We’re a company that’s 55,000 people strong.  The only two people that have left Microsoft of any significance is Kai Fu Lee and Mark Lucovsky.  That’s HARDLY a brain drain folks.  Every company has its stable of great minds and Microsoft has hundreds of those.  For example, did you know that the following people work for Microsoft?
– Gary Starkweather – the inventor of the laser printer
– Jim Gray – the creative mind behind the today’s database clusters
– Jim Allchin – the godfather behind the first directory service (Banyan Vines)
– Gordon Bell – the man behind the VAX and the modern supercomputer
…wanna see more credits?  Check out
The information in this weblog is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my opinion. Inappropriate comments will be deleted at the authors discretion. All code samples are provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose.


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