Between the new Harry Potter book and Andrew's birthday party, I totally forgot that yesterday was the 15th anniversary of my start at Microsoft. It truly has been a great fifteen years; I've made a lot of friends, learned tons, and shipped some great software (and a few dogs.) I feel totally lucky to have stumbled into Microsoft senior year of college and to have been offered a job. I'm definitely one of the few people I know who is still at the same company they started with right after college (actually, the others are also at MS.)
The company has certainly grown a lot. The summer I joined, we crossed $1B in revenues for the first time and had around 5500 employees. Last fiscal year (we announce FY05 earnings later this week), we were over $36.8B in revenue and somewhere around 55000-60000 employees. Crazy. (It is, however, nice to see revenue growth dramatically outpacing headcount/cost growth.)
We've also grown up in a lot of other ways, I think. We care more deeply about taking care of our existing customers in addition to driving ahead for the next release. We're definitely more serious about quality and security than ever. I also think we're becoming a better partner, vendor, and citizen.
We are, of course, a little more bureaucratic these days. Nothing like IBM or 3M, two places I interned, but there are definitely a few more hoops. I understand that some of the hoops are necessary, but I do miss the lighter Microsoft. (If I have to chase down stragglers on my team to watch one more mandatory HR video, I'm going to scream.) A blog written by an anonymous MS employee talks about this topic further. MiniMsft. I don't agree with everything he/she says, but much of it rings true.
I'm also a little tired of everyone attributing our actions to some nefarious plot. Get over it. We're not that smart or coordinated. If you have to choose between incompetence or evil to explain a Microsoft action, 99.9% of the time, incompetence is the reason. (Actually, this is true for many things in life.) We really are trying to do good things. I liked it better when were just incompetent. This evil thing gets me down.
Fortunately, many important things have not changed. We still hire smart, creative, passionate people who love helping customers with technology. We still have a strong merit-based system that recognizes and nurtures talent. And we still have free soft drinks.
It's been a fun ride so far. I'm curious where it will take me, but I'm up for it.