The Microsoft Years

Even thought Microsoft was maddening to work with, they were open to cool ideas

Microsoft has honed the science of fingering human “prospects” at the prime of their life, and then, like a spider, they extract all vital creative juices from their brain stems until dry.

Okay, maybe that is an overstatement; I should say they often leave them wrapped in a web of stock options worth millions. I was not to be immune. Early in 1985, a frantic marketing manager from the new Microsoft Press division seduced me into writing several computer books.

1985 Microsoft sent me to a photo studio to take this.

Microsoft’s company standards were driven against our best efforts; our people were abused to absurd extremes. In the end, Microsoft had nailed my entire staff into hardwood and wormholes with “the requirements.” My valued authors were in tears and revolt. ​

Yet the book topics we had selected seemed so promising. I had dived into HyperTalk, discovering later that this technology could not live up to its dream. I was proud of our productions, but I would come to swear I must never work with Microsoft again. One must make a comprehensive and fair assessment of such a flap. And the reality is this: the creative effort that went into this series of 6 books was stunning. Even titles and cover art telegraphed our best ideas to readers when books hit the marketplace.

Microsoft Press

  • HyperTalk Bible
  • Macintosh Midnight Madness
  • Microsoft QuickC Programming
  • Tricks of the HyperTalk Masters
  • Microsoft Multiplan: Of Mice and Menus
  • Microsoft Macinations

During this same period, we published books for Sams, Bantam, and Brady books.

Howard WW. Sams

  • MS-DOS Bible
  • Discovering MS-DOS

Bantam

  • Framework from the Ground Up
  • Inside the 80286
Another fun book. But it took too long to reach the market.

The last title we produced for Microsoft was Microsoft Macinations. I was shunted into a professional photography studio for a sparkling color dust jacket photo. Microsoft spent more money on that single photograph session than they did on the proofreader. But I felt like a celebrity for the first time in my life.

Too bad it didn’t last.