Episode 40 - Global Diversity in Technology and the Future of Microsoft with William Adams

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Episode 40 - Global Diversity in Technology and the Future of Microsoft with William Adams

Published: 2021-11-16
  • Microsoft
  • CTO
  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Engineering

Today we are joined by William Adams. Spoiler alert, we've already spoken to him - and wow is this guy a hidden gem. William has probably invented, popularised and then forgotten more than I will ever know about technology. We'll take a tour through his career highlights and boy are there some highlights - and we'll talk about his work as technical advisor to the CTO at Microsoft and founder of the LEAP apprenticeship programme aiming to boost global diversity in technology.

Edited by: Simon Hoerner

Produced by: Samuel Gregory and Chris Addams

Theme Music by: Chris Addams

Sponsored by: Jupiter and the Giraffe

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Episode Transcript

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My name is William Adams. What, it’s a hard to describe what I do, but I’m a technical advisor at Microsoft. What that means is essentially I’ve been there for 24 years. I helped set up the office of the current office of the CTO with Kevin Scott a few years back. The technical advisor is in a position to advise the CTO and other people around the company where technology is going. We look at a bunch of stuff. We synthesize a lot of stuff and we help us get towards a future that the CTO believes is where we should be going based on all factors. We just spread the goodness across the company. 

That’s pretty incredible role. You started at Microsoft, what role did you start in? 

So 1998, I’ve been here a while. The thing that drew me to Microsoft was a friend of mine was working on this thing called XML and XML was back then. I, these is the equivalent as it’s five HTML, right? It’s just this fundamental thing, but you don’t really think about too much, but I joined the company to work on this thing called XML. And I took it as a mission. I eventually became the manager of the group and, big dev manager, development manager, all that stuff. My mission was to make XML ubiquitous to the point where you just don’t think about it, just like you don’t think about ASCII today, right? It’s like, oh yeah. ASCII. I mean, sure. It’s, it’s baked in. Everyone uses it, but no one uses it. Right. You don’t walk around saying I’ve used ASCII today. 

Right. Unless you’ve done some SKL I guess, 

Unless you’ve done some ASCII art, so we worked for a few years on that and now XML hasn’t disappeared, but from a programming language perspective, if you’re using our stuff, like the CLR C sharp, it’s just part of the language. And we even incorporated the SQL. Sequel was just kind of part of our language run times. That was stuff that a team of mine did back in 2005 ish. I started with XML, I managed to a large set of people that did all sorts of things related to XML. That was the beginning. 

I mean, just to jump in there. I mean, that’s incredible, isn’t it really to do it the way you’re talking about it as well as though, like, oh, there’s this thing called XML and you talked about how you wanted to make it ubiquitous. I think you achieved that. I think you got the goal. 

Yeah, it did. I mean, it was really funny. It started out and just, I E internet Explorer as a part of that, and then it shipped with everything. Now it’s part of the, it’s just there....

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