Microsoft Service Achievement Award

So, if you’ve been at Microsoft long enough, and you’ve done favorable work, and you’re of a certain level, you might be granted this MSAA. It’s basically time off, where you can think, rejuvenate, and come back swinging.  Some might call it a sabbatical, but you’re not headed off to another company to teach computing.

I was given one of these awards way back in the day, but never took the time… until now!

I’ve got 8 weeks, off the hook to play around, play with my kid, do some traveling, and of course some tinkering around with code, 3D printing, landscaping, and the inevitable home improvement projects.

I gave my coworkers the link to this blog so that they could follow along my exploits if they so choose.  The clock starts ticking on Sept. 29th, but I’ve already got a list of 20 things, which I know will not all get done in any way shape or form.  We’ll see.

For now, my short list is:

Write a simple graphics system in C (for what, the 3 or 4th time?)

Play around with FPGAs

Construct some cabinetry in the garage

Teach my son to walk, and the true meaning of ‘inside voice’


I’ve been at MS since Oct/Nov 1998, so coming on 16 years now.  I was recently doing some phone screens for college hires, and they invariably asked me the same question; “What motivates you to stay at Microsoft”.

There were two core answers that seemed to come to me easily.

1) Whenever we do anything at Microsoft, it has the potential have impacting a great many people around the world.  One key example I gave was, ‘we all Google, but Microsoft runs the ATMs and cash registers’.

2) I have been able to grow and learn a great many things within the company.  I’ve been a large scale manager, an individual contributor, worked internationally, worked on core frameworks, and whole cloud systems.  I’ve been able to switch teams and divisions, and the whole time, I’ve managed to keep a paycheck, and gather stock which is actually worth something.  Of course, I’m not a multi-billionaire, but, I’ve perfectly happy with the lifestyle my MS generated income affords me.

And so, instead of taking the payout for my sabbatical, I took the time off.  I’m looking forward to rejuvenating, ideating, and ultimately going back to work renewed and ready to kick some more serious computing butt!


2 Comments on “Microsoft Service Achievement Award”

  1. Mike says:

    Could You offer me a link how to do low level graphics in C (not using OpenGL etc.)? Would like to learn/read. BR

  2. There are literally hundreds of books and websites on the subject. I would suggest doing a search for ‘graphics library c’.

    Depending on whether you want 2D, 3D, text rendering, realtime, or what have you, you are sure to find something relevant to your needs.

    Otherwise, you can search this blog as I did a series on the subject a couple years back, using Lua as the base language. The concepts will be the same, and the code will be very similar.

    I’ll do another series here as I work through my current experimentations.

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