This week’s conference

Every year, Microsoft’s Engineering Excellence group holds an internal conference – five days of talks, panels, booths and receptions (in other words, it’s just like any other conference, except only Microsoftees are invited). This is the first year since 2004 where I’ve been at the conference and not in the EE group. You’d think that it would be a new experience, but somehow I managed to get myself signed up to present in more sessions than I’ve ever been involved in at this event.

But first, on Monday morning, as the opening keynotes were just ending, I was talking to a group of brand new Microsoft employees. I speak at Microsoft’s new employee orientation fairly often, and it’s something I really enjoy. In the afternoon, I was involved in two sessions. The first was called something like “what testers at MS should know about testing outside of MS”. I think a lot of testers in the industry think that all there is to know about testing and software development exists in their itty bitty tiny corner of the world. Because they never look outside of their little corner, they never realize the truth (if you’re reading this, this probably isn’t referring to you). A colleague of mine kicked off the discussion, and I handled the middle section on communities. I talked about many of the forum and discussion sites currently available, including a shout-out to weekend testers. The session closed with a discussion of non-MS testing tools, specifically in the open-source area.

The second talk was a panel discussion on “The Reality of Careers in Test”. I thought the talk had a good setup, when the “baby” of the panel announced that he had been testing for only 11 years (the range went to 24 years). We had just worked the q&a into a groove when it was time to wrap up – it would have been nice to have a longer session, but it went well.

I hosted a two hour session on Tuesday. We took a deep look at one class of tools used by testers at Microsoft and had panels of owners discuss features and answer questions. One sort of cool thing we tried was to display a feed of questions and comments from (an internal twitter-like tool) during the discussion section. I thought it worked out pretty well and will have to think about how I can do something similar at an external conference someday.

In a session today, I hosted a sixty minute roundtable discussion on test careers. The discussions went well (from my point of view at least), and it was fun. Tomorrow I’m invited to a “special leadership” session (no presenting, just listening). I’m going to try to attend the whole session, but I’m probably going to have to break to spend some time on my “day job”.

I’d love to say that next year I won’t give any talks, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. I like to take what I know, combine it with my experiences, and try to help people learn something new or get better at what they’re already doing, so I guess there’s no avoiding it for me.

But that’s ok!.


  1. These sessions sound very interesting!

    Any chance you can share some slides, handouts or something with us non-Microsoftees?

    • Sure – I’ll talk more in depth about all of these in some upcoming blog posts (the slides by themselves wouldn’t be interesting).


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