Windows Insider

An Open Letter to Every Windows Insider

Greg Shields says goodbye after 100 columns as Redmond's Windows Insider.

This, if I've calculated correctly, is my 100th Redmond magazine Windows Insider column. And it just so happens to be my last. It's been a decade since I took that unexpected phone call and accepted this gig as contributing editor and columnist. It's been a fun ride and the podium gave me the opportunity to work with and mentor a sizeable quiver of authors.

I saw the gestation and birth of numerous new Windows releases and made some lifelong friends with a roster of industry notables. These people get up every day and think, live, and breathe Microsoft Windows and how to make it easier to manage networked environments. They're passionate folk who toil in an industry that doesn't always appreciate their efforts. They hold their heads up when people complain, and are always ready to respond with the typical refrain: "We'll look into that. Thanks for your input."

Those eight words, I've learned, are an important part of the Microsoft person's battle armor. Blue badges in conversation wield them with skill fired by experience. It's not that they don't care; they've just heard your idea a thousand times before. They'd like it fixed, too.

I observed hundreds of controversies and disagreements and I was in the web of a few, thanks to some who took exception to my views. Our industry isn't without its own tinfoil hats at times. My experience with and inside Microsoft has taught me that this company is no evil empire. It's merely a huge corporation, still one of the largest anywhere. And, more often than not, the reason some Windows component doesn't integrate with some other is a product of missed communication rather than some grand ploy.

A Happy Accident
You might not know that my relationship here with Redmond is entirely a fluke. Back some three editors in chief ago I won a contest sponsored by this magazine's predecessor, Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine. For that contest I submitted 500 words on why I wanted to be the magazine's editor for a day. If you peek back at the July, 2004 issue you'll find a much-younger me adorning its cover, along with an embarrassing array of other photos alongside a cover story.

Winning that contest redirected my life, and for that I thank those involved.

But it's high time to move on, or perhaps just shuffle things a bit. As co-chair of TechMentor, which is produced by Redmond magazine parent 1105 Media, I remain part of the family.

Your Beginning
Most important, though, this story isn't intended to be an ending. Yes, that's cliché, but it's also salient. The written word, the spoken word, the act of communicating in all its forms has a never-ending hunger for fresh and innovative content. The Internet itself is just a series of tubes; it's only compelling when it brings you new material.

That's why my final words as Windows Insider for this venerable magazine are an open challenge to you. The Internet might be the great democratizer, but it's useless without ideas, thoughts and, most important, solutions. Commenting on the posts of others is a great way to start, but there's nothing more empowering than constructing your own argument.

If you haven't contributed to the community, get started. Write your own articles, perhaps even for this publication. Shoot a video of something you fixed, built or just simply want to show others. The tools to accomplish this today are inexpensive and surprisingly easy to use. Get in touch with the publications you prefer and volunteer your experience for the betterment of society -- and at the same time Windows itself.

That's where you'll find me. While I might not be a columnist here the moment I hit Conrol+S, I'm not really going anywhere. There's just too much fun still to be had in this IT industry we call home.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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