Tag Archives : Working at MSFT

Putting the “Dev” Back in DevHawk

I’ve done a lot of different jobs in my 15+ years at Microsoft. All of them have been development related in one way or another. Development consulting, developer evangelism, architecture evangelism, IT architect, etc. For the past six years, I’ve been a program manager for a developer related technology – first for IronPython and later for Windows Runtime.

It’s been a good run, but I’m taking the opportunity to move from a “development related” job to just being a pure developer.

I can’t talk much the new gig, other than to say I am working with an all-star cast of braniacs including the likes of Joe Duffy, Stephen Toub, Adam Nathan and Krzysztof Cwalina. Just the knowledge osmosis opportunity alone is enough to make my head spin. Luckily, after four years on the Windows Runtime team, I’m already quite used to working around a bunch of braniacs – though arguably a less well known in the community bunch once you get beyond than the unestimable Larry Osterman.

As for this blog, I hope to be blogging more in the future. No promises, but certainly I can’t blog much less than I have for the past several years (zero posts for all of 2013 is kind of depressing). In particular, I’ve been away from production development for many, many, many years so I figure there is lots of interesting topics to focus on as I make this transition. In particular, I don’t have a classic “algorithms and data structures” computer science background. Based on the interview questions I got – all related to linked lists and binary search trees – I’m guessing this is an area where I really need to sharpen the saw.

Hope you all have liked the various technology I’ve worked on so far. Here’s hoping you like what comes next even more.

Open Position On My Team

My team is hiring. I don’t have a link to the job description on the Microsoft Careers site yet, but the job description is below.

Interested? Send me mail.

IC PM2/Senior Program Manager Position in the Windows Developer Experience Team

Do you want to help ship the most ambitious release of Windows to date? Do you want to make your impact on millions of developers and hundreds of millions of users?

We are the Developer Experience Team. We are building the next generation of developer technologies for creating Windows applications. Our platform powers the new APIs that developers will use to create stunning new Windows applications. You will own the design and delivery of key platform features that will be used by developers in the Windows org, at Microsoft, and around the world to create the APIs that power the next generation of Windows applications.

What do we need from you? Awesomeness. What exactly does that mean? You can drive ambiguous goals independently to completion. You know what needs to get done and by when. You lead by example, cat-herd by necessity, and make a positive impact on your peers in PM, Dev and Test. Others in your org seek out your help because they know you will get it done, or that you will show them how to get it done better if they are coming to you for advice.


  • You have 5+ years of experience in Program Management.
  • You love software developers and can see the world from their perspective.
  • You have strong JavaScript/C#/C++ skills
  • You have completed multiple ship cycles on a large-scale product.
  • You have intellectual horsepower and creativity, and can quickly adapt to new technologies and go deep in new areas.
  • You have excellent communication and partnering skills. You can drive features
    across teams who have different needs and priorities.
  • Experience delivering developer platforms a significant plus.

Job Opening on my Team

I’m just starting the third week in my new job – though between Thanksgiving and an intestinal virus, I’ve only been in my office for five days total so far. That’s not enough time to establish enough groundwork to be comfortable talking about what my team is doing yet. However, I just found out we’re still hiring and better yet there’s a public description of the job opening. So if you’ve ever thought “I want to work for Microsoft/Windows Division/With Harry”, here’s your chance! And if you aren’t looking for a new job, at least you can get some small hints as to what I’m doing in my new gig – “building substantial improvements into the Windows development platform” sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Senior Program Manager(708846 -External)

Job Category: Software Engineering: Program Management
Location: United States, WA, Redmond
Job ID: 708846 9986
Product: Windows 
Division: Windows Division

Developers! Developers! Developers!

Developers are the key to the success of Windows and at the center of a software ecosystem that represents hundreds of billions of dollars. Our team is chartered with reinvigorating the Windows developer ecosystem by building substantial improvements into the Windows development platform (APIs, tools and the underlying infrastructure) and making developing for Windows fun!

The team is currently seeking a Senior Program Manager to help us achieve our mission. The ideal candidate will have:

  • Strong core PM competencies with special emphasis on developer tools and collaboration skills.
  • Proven track-record of delivering results in a cross-team (ideally cross-division) environment.
  • Has been a Program Manager shipping key products for at least 6 years.
  • Deep empathy for the developer as a customer; ability to empathize through 1st hand experience of writing apps some of the issues developers are facing with respect to APIs, tooling such as Visual Studio and SDK.
  • A demonstrated track record of excellence and delivering in ambiguous V1 situations.
  • Has Bachelors in Computer Science or engineering.

Joining Windows

Big news in DevHawk land: I’ll be taking on a new role in the Windows division after I come back from TechEd Europe (plus a week vacation visiting my bro-in-law in Germany after TechEd).

You guys have heard of Windows, right? They just released a new version recently you might be aware of…Actually, I hear it was your idea!

Seriously, I am stokedto be joining the Windows team. I can’t say much about the new job beyond a) it’s in Windows Client (as opposed to Windows Server) and b) I’m working on a team that’s focused on the Windows developer experience. The Windows team is deep in what you might call “building on teh awesome that is Windows 7” but that they simply call “planning”, so sorry if specifics are kinda sparse. I’ll be back working for Mahesh Prakriya, who originally hired me into my current role on the IronPython team. Someday I might tell you the Mahesh PyCon Lego Story, but for now I’ll just say I was great working for Mahesh the first time and I think this time is going to be even better.

Working on Windows…focused on developer experience…for Mahesh – It’s like the perfect storm of work geekdom for me.

Of course, starting a new job means my time on the IronPython team is coming to an end. As excited as I am about this new opportunity in the Windows division, I’m a little sad to be leaving Developer Division and the IronPython team. I’ve joked with audiences that I care about Python because Microsoft pays me to care about Python, but that’s not completely true. Python is a fantastic language and IronPython’s combination of Python + .NET is hard to beat in my opinion. IronPython has made significant progress while I’ve been here the last eighteen months – two major releases (well, 2.6 is almost done), redisting the Python standard library, Visual Studio 2010 compat – but there’s still much for IronPython to accomplish. And of course, leaving behind such great teammates like Dino, Dave, Jim and Jimmy is ALWAYS hard.

The Windows team is somewhat tighter lipped than the totally transparent approach we use in IronPython. Not to worry, my evangelism skills were part of the reason I got the job so you’ll be hearing plenty from me soon enough. However, my posting here will be kinda sparse until I get my bearings over there. Until then, I’m sure that you will be absolutely fascinated by non-work-related-but-still-sometimes-geeky minutia I post on Twitter.

Strengthening the Microsoft Ecosystem with Source Code

clip_image001Today was the Presentation Idol competition I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t win – but believe me when I say I was up against some serious competition. I think I was about in the middle of the pack – better than some but clearly not as good as others.
Since I made a big deal about asking for people ideas on how to present my topic of choice – external contributions to Microsoft Open Source projects – I decided I’d post my deck and my script. Yes, I said script. Usually, I don’t script what I’m going to say word for word like this. But with only three and a half minutes to present, I thought I’d be as precise as possible. You’ll notice some lines near the end are in italics – those are ones I planned on cutting if I was in danger of going over the time limit.
Feedback, as usual, is most welcome.

Slide1 Hello, my name is Harry Pierson. I’m a program manager in the Visual Studio Languages group and I’m here to talk about what I would most like to do to improve Microsoft.
At Microsoft, we care an awful lot about the software ecosystem. Searching for the word “ecosystem” on Microsoft.com returns nearly eight thousand results. We talk about the ecosystem in our marketing and in our press releases.
Slide2 In 2007, we commissioned a study of the global economic impact of the Microsoft ecosystem. In a word, it’s massive. It’s responsible for nearly 15 million jobs and drives over half a trillion dollars a year in tax revenue worldwide.
No wonder we care about the ecosystem so much.
Slide3 But clearly, we’re not the only ones who care. Microsoft represents a fairly small percentage of the overall ecosystem. We earn just over 11% of the total revenue and account for half of one percent of the total employment within the ecosystem.
That means there are an awfully large number of people with a vested interest in the continuing success of the Microsoft platform.
Slide4 With this vast ecosystem in mind, I want to talk about Open Source. Microsoft and Open Source are often portrayed as enemies. But in DevDiv, we have several high profile Open Source projects. I work on IronPython, which has been Open Source for over four years. More recently, the ASP.NET and Extensibility Framework teams have decided to release some projects as Open Source.
I believe we should have more Open Source projects at Microsoft. But more importantly, I feel that we need to go beyond the textbook definition of Open Source. Our Open Source projects are typically closed to external contributions. But for the ecosystem at large, Open Source isn’t just about the availability and distribution terms of the source code. It also implies a collaborative development model - parties working together across organizational boundaries, contributing directly to projects in question.
The thing I would most like to change about Microsoft would be to let members of our ecosystem contribute code to our Open Source projects.
Slide5 I can tell you from personal experience, there are members of the IronPython community who would leap at the opportunity to contribute code. And their engineering prowess and real world would benefit the IronPython project tremendously. But the legal process for getting permission to take contributions is onerous. Worse, the legal stigma attached to code that isn’t 100% pure Microsoft intellectual property makes it nearly impossible for any other group inside Microsoft to build on it.
I realize the onerous legal process is there for a reason: to protect Microsoft’s interests. But improving IronPython and Open Source projects like it isn’t just in Microsoft’s best interest; it’s in the best interest of our ecosystem as well. We need a legal framework that protects Microsoft while allowing for code contributions. Developing such a framework will be a challenge. But competitors like Sun, Google and IBM have already demonstrated that it’s not insurmountable.
Slide6 Half a trillion dollars annually. 15 Million jobs. 42% of the IT workforce. The Microsoft ecosystem is the envy of the industry. And Microsoft is in a unique position to harness the collective experience and engineering prowess of that ecosystem while simultaneously dispelling the myth that we are an enemy of Open Source.
It’s time we make this change.
Thank you very much.