Twenty Years…and Change

In January of 1995, I began some contract work (testing networking) on the Windows 95 team at Microsoft. Apparently, my work was appreciated, because in late May, I was offered a full time position on the team.

My first official day as a full time Microsoft employee was June 5, 1995.

That was twenty years ago today!

I never (ever!) thought I would be at any company this long. I thought computer software would be a fun thing to do “for a while” – but I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy creating software, and dealing with all of the technical and non-technical things aspects that come with it. I learned a lot – and even though my fiftieth birthday is close enough to see, I’m still learning, and still having fun – and that’s a good thing to have in a job.

I’ve had fourteen managers, and seventeen separate offices. I’ve made stuff work (and screwed stuff up) across a whole bunch of products. I’ve done a ton of testing, entered thousands of bugs, and written code that’s shipped in Windows, Xbox, and more (not bad for a music major who stumbled into software).

In a nice bit of coincidence, my twenty-year mark also is a time of change for me. After two years working on Project Astoria (look it up – it’s really cool stuff), it’s time for me to do something new at Microsoft…something that aligns more with my passions, skills, and experiences – and something that shows what someone with over two decades of software testing experience can do for modern software engineering.

I’ve joined (yet another) v1 product team at Microsoft. Other than a few contract vendors, the team of a hundred or so has no software testers. They hired me to be “the quality guy”. This set up could be bad news in many worlds, but my job is definitely not to try to test everything. Instead, my job is to offer quality assistance, help build a quality culture, assist in exploratory testing, and look at quality holistically across the product. I don’t know if any jobs like this exist elsewhere (inside or outside of Microsoft), but I’m excited (and a bit scared) of the challenge.

More to come as I figure out what I do, and what it means for me as well as everyone else interested in software quality.


  1. Posted June 8, 2015 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi Alan,
    To me it sounds like you may be doing something similar to what we’re doing at Atlassian. Are you familiar with Atlassian’s Quality Assistance model?

    Here are two links with an introductory overview
    * – “Quality assistance: how Atlassian does QA”
    * – “Moving from quality assurance to quality assistance”

    I’m looking forward to reading more about your experiences and thoughts on the topic.

    • Posted June 8, 2015 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Yes! In fact, I mentioned Atlassian and Quality Assistance in the last AB Testing Podcast (where Brent and I talk about my new job a bit).

      But I think Quality Assistance will end up being just a small part of my job. We’ll see what happens.

2 Trackbacks

  • By Building Quality on June 14, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    […] mentioned in my last post that I have a new job at Microsoft (and I discussed it a bit more on the last AB Testing). During […]

  • By Coding Without a Net on January 23, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    […] Article aside, my least favorite work experiences are those when I’ve been in a “siloed” or dedicated test team and away from the fast feedback of the rest of the development team. My favorite work experiences by far, including my current company, have me on the development team roaming around the product and trying to figure out how to test things, how to improve quality and constantly investigating the product. I’m the “quality guy” much like Alan describes here. […]

Leave some words for the weasel

%d bloggers like this: