We went through our two weeks of training and then went to Ridgewood F where I would spend many years in inside sales. We were all assigned a mentor. Mine was a girl named Heather Rosenquist. She was very bright and energetic girl. There were 4 groups on our floor all in Customer Service. This was before the time of outsourcing and offshoring. A lot of talent came out of this group that continue to serve Microsoft to this day, but given how things work these days those diamonds in the rough will be harder to find in the US. In the future it is more likely they will come from India or elsewhere. But in life timing is everything. I digress, but then again I said I would. Our four teams had fun names like “Hotstuff:, “Hotdogs” “Hotshots” etc… The average age was probably 27. The woman frankly were all hot, hence the name of the teams (I cannot back that up). I can say that openly. Unemployed people have no HR department, only you my readers. It was nerve racking at first and Heather jumped in and helped me a lot. I really did not know a lot about computers and computer technology at the time, but the best way to learn is to be thrown into the lion’s den. Most of the stuff was pretty generic – people wanting the latest maintenance release for Word 1.1a. This was before we had service packs. Sometimes you got a more challenging call – “I need to write to COM 1 or COM 2?” – Answer MSDOS ships with a tool called qbasic that allows you to write to these ports. Some times you got request for old replacement parts which you had to hand enter on paper, like I need to replace my Mach20 board. Another was I need disks for the game “Olympic decathlon” – a game I had played on my friends Apple IIe with the DOS 1.0 Boot disk. For the most part it was a great education. My main tools were three things – DEC VAX, InfoBase (we downloaded this every day) and MS Mail 3.2. Infobase was essentially a knowledge Base with info on all our products. System requirements in those days was very important info to know. Networks in those days was 10gb and my PC ran Windows 3.0 had 2 mb RAM with a 20 mb hard disk. We ran Microsoft Office which was the basics (Excel, Word, and Powerpoint). MS Mail was a big deal, email in those days was limited to corporate networks, not like it is today. So being able to communicate through this new medium was pretty exciting. It was not as fast as it was today as this was before client-server. So all mail messages were downloaded to your desktop. Around 8:30 the network would slow to a crawl. The queue light on your phone lit up from the moment the trunks were opened up in the morning until we left at 5;30 PST. I also started to get familiar with new terms lile “beta” software and got excited about loading a beta program before it’s general release. The first big release happened shortly after I started in November which was the launch of Windows 3.1. the killer feature was the new File Manager – much simpler way to find files on your desktop than opening up new windows as you dug deeper into a file folder. I know it sounds “thrilling”, but it was pretty cool in 1991. Well I have done a lot today. While writing this blog entry I successfully navigated unemployment in Washington. Turns out I am going to get paid while I sit on my duff. I am thinking my next entry will be about the rise of Microsoft Office, Billg the early years or the executive make up of the company – depends on how I am feeling when I sit down to write again.
2 thoughts on “My first days at Microsoft”
Very interesting stuff. Keep em coming Hans. Perhaps you have a book in you! =)
While we were all very hot in the attractive sense, that wasn’t our motivation for coming up with the team names. (=: The hotlines set up to take calls temporarily always got to have “hot” in the name: WordHot, ExcelHot, and so on. So when we merged the Info Center and Customer Service, we supervisors thought it would be fun to all have “hot” in our team names. Of course, had we thought of it your way, we would have chosen it for *that* reason, too.