Although I miss my friends and former colleagues at Microsoft, and I miss the games industry, overall I'm still glad I made the switch. I'm enjoying the new work, and learning all the cool Google technologies. Now if only the stock price didn't keep going down. :-)
Some things I like:
- Switching from Window to Macintosh. It took me six months to get used to the subtle differences, but as a user I'm just happier with the Mac. It's easier for me to use. Now, to be fair, at home I still maintain a Windows Vista machine for the excellent Windows Media Center, but for everything else I use the Mac.
- Better corporate politics. There seems to be less infighting between groups. And while my overall compensation is about the same as it was at Microsoft, the way it's managed and delivered makes it seem less competitive than MS. Perhaps it's an illusion, but it feels better.
- Better equipment. I love using a 30" LCD monitor and a high-end laptop, and I love the "we'll just give it to you" technical support. At MS sometimes I felt that I had to fight to justify minor hardware purchases.
- Fancier food in the cafeterias. I usually eat lunch and diner at work, so the tasty and relatively healthy food is much appreciated. Interestingly enough, I think Google Seattle uses the same food caterer as Microsoft does. I guess we just asked them to cook different food.
- More connected to the Web / Valley culture. Microsoft's pretty insular. It was good to get closer to the Silicon Valley culture again.
- Able to use open-source projects. Sometimes the open-source projects are the best way of doing something. But Microsoft's not able to use it, due to a combination of pride, loyalty to its own products, and fear of viral licenses. For example, using Linux for embedded devices is much better than Windows CE. I also find I liked using non-Microsoft technologies like Java, Python and Ruby.
- I miss the Xbox project. Right now my old team is probably starting to plan the next generation of Xbox, and it would have been a blast to have been a part of that process.
- I miss the free game betas, and using beta software in general. (I'm a sucker for new features!)
- I miss some of the Microsoft-specific technologies like C# (still better than Java), Visual Studio (still better than Eclipse), and F#.
- Surprisingly, I don't miss my old single-person office very much. It's true that a group office is distracting. But it's also helpful for sharing ideas and for keeping focused on the project.
Well, that's it, better get back to work!