5/27/2015

Microsoft Transformed Over Time

Reporting
When I started programming in Microsoft Visual Basic (Classic), I believe Crystal Reports was bundled as part of the install package, it may have been version 3 of VB.  And Microsoft had Access to do reporting as well.  There wasn't a real emphasis on reporting in the Microsoft world back then.

Internet
And then around 1998 or 99, I remember listening to a presentation from a consultant on the World Wide Web and how to create simple ASP application.  It seems Microsoft was late to the Internet party.

Java
Around the same time, although Visual Basic was such an easy language to write, it lacked true object oriented methodology.  Back then, they released a language similar to Java called J#.  I tried learning it at the time because Object Oriented meant it was a true language.  Then .net had c# which had a close similarity to true Java.  So they were kind of playing catch up there.

Databases
From 1995 to 2001, I worked primarily in Oracle.  Because they dominated the database market back then.  They were reliable for production apps, could scale and were in demand so it was a safe technology to learn.  Microsoft had SQL Server 7 and then 2000 along with Analysis Services.  I bought a book on learning OLAP but the book confused me more than taught, so I put it aside for a few years (I still have it though).  So Microsoft was sort of late to the production database world trailing Oracle and IBM DB2.

Browsers
Back in the 1990's I remember using Netscape and a lot of people were on AOL.  Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer into their operating system and had to go to court.  Over the years, I heard many people say they used IE to just to download and install other browsers and only used IE for testing their web apps to make sure they worked.

Cross Platform
I remember writing code in Visual Studio and dot net.  I always wondered why Microsoft never developed an architecture similar to the Java Runtime Engine, which allowed Java to run on any operating system.  Decades later, we are starting to see cross platform development in dot net called Code which runs on OS X and Linux.

Open Source
Microsoft code has always been proprietary.  One of the reasons I liked to program in Microsoft was because it was baked into the operating system.  You could access registry entries, low level code and it all just worked.  But nobody except the developers saw the actual source code.  Lately, the open  source communities have sprung up and flourished with teams of developers from across the globe contributing to the success of many languages.  And Microsoft has followed suit by open sourcing many applications listed here.

Operating Systems
I remember in the mid 1990's, my father who worked for IBM told me about a new operating system which worked on a windows concept.  You could have multiple windows open concurrently.  It was called OS2.  Although I never had a computer with OS2 operating system, Microsoft created Windows and maintained market share over time because many personal and business computers used Windows.

Reading this post, it would appear that Microsoft has been playing catch up in a lot of different technology spaces.

But that's all changing.  I posted a blog recently that outlines a lot of new features and products from Microsoft.  New leadership is driving new results.  Instead of dictating the rules and then playing catch up, it seems that Microsoft has become a team player by contributing to open source projects, exposing their source code and allowing developers to run apps on multiple operating systems.  They have moved a lot of services to the cloud in Azure, which aligns with the new mantra of Cloud first, Mobile first.

I've been a Microsoft developer since about 1995 and there's always been jobs available for whatever technology was hot at the time.  It seems they have a presence in every aspect of technology and driving new innovation from the Research team like Skype Translator and virtual reality HoloLens.

I don't claim to be an authority on the history of Microsoft.  But it looks like Microsoft has transformed itself over time and keeps getting better.

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