It was Windows 95 (codenamed: Chicago) that truly piqued my interests to learn how technology could be so empowering and unlock potential.
I still have my first copy of Windows 95. (Actually, I have some floppy disks with Windows 3.1 too.) On the eve of the Windows 8 launch, I believe that a new generation of Windows enthusiasts are ready to take flight.
In 1995, the United States Air Force had just completed its move from Sperry Terminals to Windows 3.11 for Workgroups when Windows 95 was released. Somehow, I knew this operating system was the start of something new. I also knew that I wanted to be a part of it.
That same year, a friend had invited me to Houston to provide some technical consulting for his father’s business. It was my first independent consulting job. I enjoyed the work of achieving business goals through technology.
During that visit, I found myself in one of my favorite places on earth–a bookstore. I believe it was Border’s. Back then, I had this philosophy that you could always determine the hottest technologies by the number of books that were written on the subject. But in this bookstore, there was only a handful of books written on the subject I fancied–a Microsoft Press Training Kit for Windows 95 Certification.
At the time, I felt like I was holding the Dead Sea Scrolls in my hand with that training kit. The courseware had a $199 price tag on it. I was active duty Air Force at the time. Any purchase of $200 required prior consultation with my bride.
I found a pay phone (remember those) in the bookstore and used my credit card to call home. (I am sure some younger people will read this and think “what the heck is he talking about?”)
I told my bride that I had found Microsoft’s official curriculum for getting certified on the next big thing–Windows 95.
To which she replied, “And?”
“And, it’s $200!”
I only remember a moment of silence. Then a response.
“If you think it will help you, you should get it.”
“But, it’s $200!?”
“Get it. If it’s worth what you think it is…you’ll get the money back!”
This would be the most money I had every paid for any published work at the time. There were no reward points for the purchase. Just a quiet thought, ‘Wow, how am I going to pay American Express $200 in 30 days?’
Next, I knew I needed to finish this consulting job, get paid, and get back home–on the other side of Texas.
The training kit open my mind to issues about computers and networking that very few books had been written. Microsoft was doing something completely new and I had my skin in the game. It was exciting to learn about Windows from inside-out.
Today, over seventeen years later, I am the Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft Education at the dawn of the next new era in computing. Windows 8 is widely considered to be the most significant advancement in operating systems since Windows 95. At the same time, I would have never imagined going from being a Microsoft fan to being a Microsoft FTE. It has been a remarkable journey and the next epoch is beginning.
This short story is only a glimpse of how Windows has impacted my life. A brief snapshot.
For someone…somewhere…her own personal Windows story is just beginning. She has been following the development of the project codenamed: “Windows 8″ for nearly two years. Today, she realizes that something big is happening. Like it was for me…everything is about to change.
That is a momentous feeling. There is also great news.
Students in many high schools and community colleges across the country have access to Microsoft IT Academy program as part of their curriculum. What I agonized over spending $200, students today can get for free.
I was a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) before I was college graduate. My Microsoft credentials open doors at a time when universities were not able to keep pace with industry shifts and new technology. Being an MCP enabled me to match my knowledge with know-how and build diverse career experiences.
Today, Microsoft credentials still open doors. With Windows 8, there will be a lot more doors to open.
October 26, 2012, dawn of a new era.
Be what’s next.
What inspired you to get into technology? Was there a big moment that spark your imagination of what could be? Share your story in the comments below.