In which I leave Microsoft.

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Over the past year I’ve been doing quite of bit of thinking. Nothing specific, nothing groundbreaking. Just plain old thinking. I turn 40 this year. Despite the wonderful ability in Microsoft to change careers pretty dramatically inside the company, I’ve been there nearly 18 years and it’s the only world I’ve really ever known. I feel too strangely comfortable, and too strangely tied.

So over the past several weeks I’ve made the decision to resign and have been working with my management for an orderly transition. My last day will be February 15th.

On the 16th, I’m going to head down to Dallas to visit my family. Then I’m off to JocoCruiseCrazy! I have no other plans beyond that. I’m a free agent! One with 18 years of experience in technology, public and written communications, and 5 years spent deep in the entertainment business. If you have something you think I’d be good at, by all means feel free to contact me at Stepto at stepto.com. Or you can buy my book or the audio version of my book via the links to the left (shameless plug).

Nothing will change with regards to my Twitter or blog, I plan to return to doing a lot more writing here on new topics and video game thoughts.  And I’ll continue to be a super tweeting twitter guy who tweets a lot, again keeping a video game oriented focus.

For anyone wondering, I want to make sure I am clear: This is a positive thing. I have nothing but confidence in the future of Microsoft and specifically Xbox and Xbox LIVE. I have enormous gratitude for my time there. I want to finish my next book, and explore other opportunities.

So there it is. I have no idea what the future holds, for the first time in my life.

This ought to be interesting!

In the time honored tradition of Microsoft employees who make the decision to leave, I just sent my farewell email.  In another tradition, Microsoft doesn’t comment on specific personnel changes and I’m going to be honoring that. I’ll be declining any media requests for now since until the 15th I’m still a Microsoft employee, and after that I plan to be enjoying rum drinks and being disconnected from everything for a while. I’ll be back online and in Seattle on the 28th.

Here’s my goodbye mail, presented here with some personal names removed:

Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.

On a warm Dallas day April 11th, 1994, I grabbed my keys and wallet and headed for the front door of my apartment. I stopped short when I realized I was going to need my building access badge that I had just been given that previous Friday. I walked into my bedroom and grabbed the badge, making a mental note to remember to keep it with my wallet at night so I wouldn’t forget it in the morning. It was my first full day at Microsoft. I was 21.

Since that day (very nearly without exception) I’ve carried a Microsoft badge with me basically where ever I went. That April day I was a contractor with Microsoft, A-Stepto. The following January I was hired as a Microsoft FTE and issued a new email name, SToulouse. Because everyone had already started calling me Stepto, my manager had them change it to Stepto. It stuck.

I wrote in my book about some of the amazing things I’ve been a part of at this company. Shipping Windows 95. Traveling the world in the training organization teaching support engineers about upcoming technologies. Being a security PM and spokesperson for the entire company on security issues. Getting to play a part in the success of Xbox, Xbox LIVE, and Kinect. I can’t possibly conceive of the good fortune, challenges, and rewards I’ve gotten from almost 18 years at Microsoft happening to me anywhere else.

But I’m going to go see just to make sure.

February 15th 2012 will be my last day at Microsoft. My reasons for leaving are complex and personal, but the parting could not be more amicable. I continue to believe this place makes great technology, and I am absolutely thrilled for the future of Xbox and Xbox LIVE.

What are my plans? I don’t have any! That’s both scary and exciting. Well, it’s also a bit untrue. The day after I leave I’m headed out to join my Internet friends on JoCoCruiseCrazy in the Caribbean. And I’m nearly finished with my second book, on a topic unrelated to Microsoft.

But after that I don’t have anything lined up. I’m going to see what happens.

My team will continue its work as always, there will be no interruption. In the meantime don’t worry, we have top men working on an orderly transition. Top men.*

After almost 18 years There’s too many people to thank. First and foremost CSS for my start at Microsoft in the Las Colinas office. TwC for my wonderful time there working at the Microsoft Security Response Center. I’d like to thank Xbox, my team and the entire staff of my wonderful enforcers who work so tirelessly to help protect the Xbox LIVE service. It’s been an incredible privilege and honor to work with people so friendly, dedicated, and nearly impervious to naughty Internet slang.

I’d like to thank Microsoft for an unbelievable set of opportunities, an incredible education that they paid *me* to obtain, and for the opportunity to be neck deep for five years in my first love: video games.

My leaving’s not tied to any event or thing, so I’m not out the door just yet! Please feel free to drop by or chat. After the 15th you can reach me at Stepto@stepto.com. But be aware I probably won’t be able to answer you until I arrive back in Seattle on the 28th because I’ve always been the guy that checks my email on the beach and I’m not going to be that guy anymore.

I wish you all the very best success. Godspeed and please…

Be excellent to each other.

S.

*I apologize for the gender specificity, but it’s a movie quote. I’ll let you go Bing it. :>