A topic I end up talking about quite a bit is how org structures evolve. In today's "Hardcore Software" I discuss origins of Microsoft's two main cultures--Systems and Apps. "018. Microsoft’s Two Bountiful Gardens" in Hardcore Software on @SubstackInc …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/018-microsof… 1/
2/ Mike Maples Sr (then head of all World Wide Products) explained the origin of each culture using a folksy story about "two bountiful" gardens at Microsoft. Apps was 58% of revenue but Systems was top of the food chain, so to speak. Excerpt from annual report in 1993. PDF of scanned document.
3/ Many are familiar with this image of different tech company org charts. It always drove me bonkers because I felt it did little to understand how or why companies are structured like they are and presumes it is just lunacy. Yes, I get it was to be funny. Manu Cornet - tech company org charts. https://bonkersworld.
4/ In the post I discuss the origins of the cultures. Why was Systems so aggressive and chaotic while Apps so iterative and relentless? Turns out there were good reasons, which led to the two massive businesses.
4/ As technical assistant I spent a good deal of time with Microsoft Research, which had just been formed by Nathan Myhrvold (and others). In a sense it introduced a third culture (and soon MSN and online services would be a fourth). Microsoft had many cultures, like APIs :-)
5/ We're getting close to 8000 readers. Please join in the fun and subscribe. It is a lot of fun and at the same time the fun stories lead to many management and product lessons. …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/about?utm_sour…
PS: The NY Times referred to Bill Gates in 1992 as "the world's wealthiest computer programmer". Really! It was probably true, but still... :-)
PPS: Want to learn how I applied and gathered lessons over many years, then check out this post on functional versus unit organizations. medium.learningbyshipping.com/functional-ver…

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More from @stevesi

29 Mar
Climate of 'fear' prevents experts fro questioning the handling of the pandemic. express.co.uk/news/uk/141589… // this is super interesting and not at all obvious for a true pandemic in a democracy. 1/
2/ WHO has studied pandemics and worked tirelessly for decades in many countries. They serve in an advisory capacity with varying degrees of involvement depending on country. Lots of history going way back, smallpox, HIV, flu, ebola, SARS, etc.
3/ In 2008 a few years after SARS they published an updated Outbreak Communication and Planning Guide. apps.who.int/iris/bitstream…
Read 7 tweets
29 Mar
016. Filling the Void Left by IBM …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/016-filling-… // Over 5000 have signed up. Please join in, it is great fun. Many stories--history & strategy. Microsoft is transitioning to enterprise products and building "Chicago", oh and the internet.

Also, my first exec offsite.
2/ The offsite was the first time I was at a meeting with a bunch of executives from across the company. There were 9 execs out of the 25 or so worldwide at the company at the time. Attending scored us a wonderful acrylic block. Microsoft loved acrylic blocks. Acrylic block signifying attending the "Microsoft Manag
3/3 Our breakout had to come up with an answer to "Filling the Void Left by the Demise of IBM" which was days away from insolvency and will appoint a new CEO the following week. This was the earliest days of Microsoft's transition to selling enterprise as discussed. Weird slide🤣
Read 4 tweets
24 Mar
Just posted "Every Group Is Screwed Up" in _Hardcore Software_. This is my interview with billg to become his technical assistant. 👇that's the old fountain you could see outside from our office windows. 1/ …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/015-every-gr…
2/ Check out the post for the adventure (including me humiliating myself). The most interesting thing though was how the previous technical assistant warned me about the job.

Also, he told me to start looking for my next job right away!
3/ He told me that every group is "screwed up" and that becomes readily apparent as you cycle through meeting after meeting. Projects are late, buggy, missing features, and more. I was intrigued by the idea everything was messed up.
Read 5 tweets
16 Mar
1/ Super excited to have completed the second full chapter of "Hardcore Software: Inside the Rise and Fall of the PC Revolution" on substack …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/013-end-of-t…

The most recent post is the end of "16 bit" era c. 1992-3. Join me as I learn about naming a product and reviews.
2/ PC sales had been slow due to global economic stuff, but the Mac had really slowed (you can see why in one of the magazines below). But recently sales had gone vertical with the success of Windows 3.x

At the same time developers all moved to focus on "Win32" the 32bit world. chart of pc v mac sales 1981 to 1994. Mac sales go from 3,80
3/ That's the market we launched Visual C++ into. Talk about tailwinds. We had a Windows-based development environment that was "object oriented" just in time for this massive uptick.

Windows NT was in beta. The successor to 3.x was under development. Momentum built. Screenshot of Visual C++
Read 14 tweets
8 Mar
Ever wonder when and how Microsoft made a big bet on Windows? Today’s Hardcore Software shares what it was like to have a bunch of existing confusion clarified by the CEO in a memo. 1/5 …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/011-a-strate…
2/ The memo was from Bill Gates and detailed a “A Strategy for the ‘90s Windows”. Seems kind of obvious now. But then the company was deep in a partnership with IBM to develop OS/2, the successor to MS-DOS. Windows was a side project. Infoworld headline from 2/18/91 “‘Advanced Windows’ Ma
3/ But Windows 3.0 was selling super well—sales of Windows 3.0 exceeded that if Macintosh by a huge amount, selling over 4M copies in the first year (2.5M Macs were sold that year). OS/2 was not selling well, nor was it making progress in product development that was needed.
Read 5 tweets
3 Mar
In the most recent Hardcore Software substack post, I shared the "turning point" for learning how to ship software. It was a memo/presentation based on the work of Excel 5 that shipped 11 days late. Let's look at the first "massive" project to ship on exactly time, Office XP. 1/ Bill Gates at Office XP launch.
2/ First a quick excerpt from hardcoresoftware.substack.com. This is the memo from 1990 on Shipping Software, written by the development manager for Excel (Microsoft legend Chris Peters). Cool Stuff.
3/ The key lesson is the most obvious which is actually having a ship date. It is amazing how many projects have dates that are "1st quarter" or "1st half". That's 90 or 180 dates. Second lesson, shipping is everything. It's all that matters.
Read 12 tweets

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