Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Even Distinguished Engineers get the blues

It appears that Google has managed to lure away one of Microsoft's top engineers, Mark Lucovsky. Mark is [was ?] one of the few, the proud, the chosen: Microsoft's Distinguished Engineers [aka "DE"s]. DEs have an almost-mythical status at MS; they're pretty much a law unto themselves and can [within reason] do pretty much whatever they want. Getting into a technical argument with one of them may result in your co-workers finding nothing but a smoking pile of ashes in your office after you've been smitten by the DE lightning bolt -- Dave Cutler especially has been known to reach out and b!tchslap people in email when he disagrees with them. I've personally had the ... opportunity, shall we say, to get into a debate about the technical merits of a particular solution with a [different] DE and, while I didn't get totally pummeled, it was a lot like going into a gunfight armed with a [small] knife. Of course, at the time I didn't know that all I had was a knife so I charged in full-bore.

In any case, what struck me about this was: if a DE, who must have been getting paid a truckload of money [not that he needed it], and could pretty much have had his pick of any project he wanted at MS, decided to move to Google, they must have something pretty damn cool for him to work on. And MS, by contrast, apparently didn't. That's gotta worry somebody, somewhere at MS.

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