Monday, February 05, 2007


Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters (Book Review)

I’ve just finished reading “Proudly Serving my Corporate Masters: What I learned in Ten Years as a Microsoft programmer” by Adam Barr. I saw this book mentioned on Joel Spolsky’s site (at least I think that’s where I saw it), and being an avid Microsoft watcher I just had to read it. It’s essentially a historical recount of the early to middle era of personal computing and the rise of the PC, interwoven with Adam’s ten years at Microsoft (1990 – 2000). It gives a fascinating insight into the work culture at Microsoft; some of Adam’s interviewer stories are excellent.

I found some parts of the book extremely interesting, others not so, possibly because they explain things obvious to a developer. If you read this along side other accounts (such as “Microsoft Secrets” by Cusumano and Selby), there seems to be something missing, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The prose does not always flow smoothly, but despite this it is was worth reading, especially if you’re forty-something and still remember 4.77MHz CPUs, the Z80, Amigas, CP/M and those rather large floppies… One thing this book does well, is to put into perspective how easy and pervasive internet access has become compared to the pre-internet, BBS days.
As an aside, Adam rejoined Micosoft in 2003, and as far as I know he is still there. You can read his blog here.

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