While I was at Microsoft I’d occasionally have chats with some of my colleagues about their next career steps. Sometimes it was about whether they should stay at Microsoft or take a job somewhere else. Other times, right after a major product release, the question was whether they should stay and work on the next version of the same product or whether they should move on to some different Microsoft project.
After a while, I developed a fairly stock response to these sorts of questions. It was basically this:
This is a really exciting time for computing. It reminds me of the first half the 1980’s when personal computing was just starting to takeoff and make fundamental changes to society. Mainframe computing was still dominant but the visionaries could quite accurately (in retrospect) describe what personal computing would be like in the year 2000. They just didn’t know what specific technologies and business models would take us to that vision. It was up to the rest of us to actually make it happen.
It’s similar today. Personal computers are still dominant but a new form of computing is really starting to takeoff. Visionaries can describe what post-PC computing will be like in 2025. However, there is no predestined roadmap for how we are going to get there. It’s up to all of us to blaze the path.
So, it’s 1984 again. Do you want to be Bill Gates or Ken Olsen . Do you want to work on enhancing OS360 or do you want to help create the Mac OS or Windows. Who you work for is secondary. The import question is do you want to help invent the future of computing or do you want to spend the rest of your career doing maintenance on PC era legacy software.
Eventually, I got around to taking my own advice. Creating the next era of computing is what I will be working on and something I will be writing about on this blog.