Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Microsoft New Hire Booklist

I've read in several places that new programmers at Microsoft get a set of books on their first day of work. One book is Polya's HOW TO SOLVE IT. Does anyone have the complete list of books?

__ IceMan __
Friday, April 16, 2004

Here's the set I got when I started (8 years ago):




Hope that helps!

Geoff

Geoff
Friday, April 16, 2004

Geoff : I wrote Programmer not toilet cleaner! :-)

__ IceMan __
Friday, April 16, 2004

That may be the habit on some teams, but certainly is not company wide.  This is the first I've heard of it.

Which is not to say that there are not books that pretty much everyone has.  Almost everyone has a copy of Writing Secure Code, and most people have a copy of Writing Solid Code somewhere in their office.

Eric Lippert
Friday, April 16, 2004

Ah ... who could resist this retort .... but apparently nobody reads them.

Microsoft gets a bad rap for insecure and buggy code, yet everything seems to point that they should produce the most secure and least buggy code. I wonder why that is.

Me
Friday, April 16, 2004

The way I heard it is there is a stock room with pencils and floppy disks and  stacks of these books and you are welcome to take any books you see and read them or do as you please with them. So they don't give you he books, but there are certain ones like the Polya which are made available to you in a discrete manner.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, April 16, 2004

Me,

Everybody writes some buggy code, let's say 1% for the best. Microsoft writes more code than anyone on the planet, therefore... more bugs.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, April 16, 2004

MS has got some of the best sofware engineers and computer scientists (a lot of formers PARC people are there)

__ IceMan __
Friday, April 16, 2004

Also they're probably too strong on single-process computing and weak on distributed.  Their interview questions all seem to be about boxes of state rather than communicating nodes.  So they don't react well to Byzantine processes which send malicious messages.

Looks like they're building tools with the property that writing unsafe code takes skill.

Good multiparadigm tools can also reduce complexity, so their skill isn't eaten up by shoehorning problems into imperative solutions.

My 2 pesos..

Tayssir John Gabbour
Friday, April 16, 2004

I read something once (actually I think it was in 'the road ahead'). Apparently Bill Gates said he if he was interviewing and the interviewee told him they had read "The Art of Computer Programming" by Donald E Knuth, then he would hire them straight away!

Nice thought....

Aussie Chick
Friday, April 16, 2004

Knuth might be best you could get in the times when Bill was interviewing, but today I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but computer historician. Yes, it does cover more ground than any other book on programming in general, but today there're a lot of better written, and more up-to-date material on any of the topics it touches.

Egor
Saturday, April 17, 2004

Could you give examples?  I'd be interested to see which books were more modern/accessible, I always did think I wanted to read Knuth if I had the time, maybe there is a way for me to get a similar experience with less pain!

Konrad
Saturday, April 17, 2004

Bill would probably hire the guy to explain the book to him.

Or ha reckioned that somebody that could plough his way through all three volumes would take all the shit you could pile on him.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, April 17, 2004

"The Prince", Niccolo Machiavelli
- for philosophy

"Mein Kampf", Adolf Hitler
- for inspiration

and from Gates' personal collection,

"1000 Days Of Sodom", by Marquis De Sade

- for tips on what to do during your off days (not that you are expected to take any)

Ass Hat
Saturday, April 17, 2004

Konrad, I think "Algorithms" (Sedgewick), "The Pragmatic Programmer"  (Thomas and Hunt), and "Code Complete" (McConnel) teach a lot more about "the art of computer programming" than Knuth's book does.

Egor
Saturday, April 17, 2004

New MS programmers aren't given a stack of books upon hire.  Also there isn't a pile of free books sitting in the supplies room for people to take.  So the library you describe doesn't exist, at least not for the last 7 years or so... 

Employees are certainly given all the resources necessary to buy whatever they need and MS has a great library to get anything not easily purchasable (no longer published software etc).

chris
Saturday, April 17, 2004

Egor: Thanks for that, have code complete, may check out the other ones.

Konrad
Sunday, April 18, 2004

Egor you are a fool!

Comparing the books you mention to Knuth's is like comparing apples to oranges.

Read up people!


Sunday, April 18, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home