Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Windows culture?

Is there a Windows Programmer Culture?

I know there's the Open Source culture, and I know there are Linux/Unix cultures.  These cultures are generally seen as the "free as beer" GNU people or the semi-grungy Unix hacker.  There is definitely a Mac culture -- that one is a kind of tinkerer culture, but seems to encompass programmers a good bit.  Mac people are generally thought of as artisans, artists, people who "think different," as it were.

What image, though, is associated with Windows programmers and developers?  Is there a single image of "the Windows hacker" or is Windows' intall-base so large that there is no one group -- the groups thusly being divided up into corporate programmer, game programmer, ASP web developer, etc.?

I'm just curious what the over-generalized, stereotypical Windows programmer looks like.  Thanks.

Andrew Burton
Thursday, January 15, 2004

as some (wise) person posted before, it's often along the lines of:

"whatever, it works."

Thursday, January 15, 2004

"I'm just curious what the over-generalized, stereotypical Windows programmer looks like."

A white, or indian guy. About 36.  Height around five foot 8, weight about 215 (if white. subtract 60 lbs if indian).

Wearing "stain resistant" Dockers(tm), a coral, or seafoam green, or dutch blue (or whatever color is on sale) polo shirt. Slightly out of fashion glasses. Either a pair of clearance rack new balance sneakers, or else some rockport boat shoes. A cell phone from about 3 years ago, clipped to the belt. Carries a black nylon computer briefcase with an embroidered logo from a conference. Drives a toyota camry (if salaried employee) or a BMW (if working for a VAR or other contract shop). Lives in a first ring suburb in a major metropolitan area, but not new york or LA. Has a wife who is an occupational therapist. Likes to play warcraft and collect DVDs in spare time. 

Thursday, January 15, 2004

One thing I've noticed about Windows devs vs. corporate Unix devs is that Windows devs tend to be more "jack of all trades" - we'll install and maintain the OS, run our own database, write SP's, create database schema, etc, etc, etc.

In the traditional Unix/mainframe/DBA world it seems like coders write code, DBA's handle the database, sysadmins handle the network - almost like unions.

I can't speak as to how this compares in the LAMP world, I don't know enough Linux devs to comment.


Thursday, January 15, 2004

I've had the exact opposite of philo's experience.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

'These cultures are generally seen as the "free as beer" GNU people or the semi-grungy Unix hacker. "

The 'Windows Hacker' is the opposite of the unix hacker, ie:
Money matters to them, and they're apperance matters as well.

I would some it up as follows:
Unix Hacker : dungeon/basement dweller
Windows Hacker: Corporate dweller
Mac Hacker: Art room dweller

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Windows folk tend towards being less of a believer in free/open source software.  Like Mac folks, they are more commercial/shareware software believers.  The old guard of windows folk are most like this.

There are a *lot* of MS-hating windows programmers.  At least the ones that I've met.  I've met quite a few folks who program windows to pay the bills and then use Macs or Unix the rest of the time.

VB/ASP/etc. programmers are a different breed altogether, I think.

Flamebait Sr.
Thursday, January 15, 2004

The only people who I've met who didn't feel the urge to "dress down" were Mainframe/Minicomputer/Commercial Unix programmers.  Windows and Linux and Mac folks all tend to be a little less polished.

Flamebait Sr.
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Am I just left out of a joke or did no one correct the "free as in beer GNU types" to "free as in freedom GNU types"?

Jonas B.
Thursday, January 15, 2004

I think it is funnier to refer to "gnu types" as

"Free as in don't wear underpants GNU types"

Thursday, January 15, 2004

My own feeling is it is more of an academic versus
business culture, and the "whatever works" comes out
of the fact that in Windows, there is typically only one
way to do things - or at least one source of ways to do
things - while there are numerous ways to do that given
thing in Unix/Linux - and the numerous ways have to be
researched, studied, and end up with their devotees. 

Windows has a "it's from MSFT - deal with it" aspect.
For instance, arguing about whether the Program Registry
is a good idea or not, for instance, is a purely theoretical
argument - if you program on Windows, you'll use it.  End
of story.

Schemes for addressing similar problems in Unix/Linux are
numerous, so a debate of this sort has real purpose in
engineering discussions.  So, for better or worse, the
excesses in Unix/Linux tend to be the sort that crop up
in academic and research settings (monster egos, draw
attention to myself polemics, religious warfare over trivia),
while the excesses in Windows tend to be those which
crop up in business settings (lots of Dilbert and _Office
Space_ scenarios...)

Thursday, January 15, 2004

> I've had the exact opposite of philo's experience.

Same here.

In some Windows environments that I've worked in, developers don't have the Administrator password and so cannot even do basic maintenance on their own boxes.

Whereas in Unix environments, all the techies seem to have root, and are running around setting up ssh servers, wikis, automatic emailers, and so forth.

Personally, I am in favor of wearing many hats on either platform.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

> I would some it up as follows:

> Unix Hacker : dungeon/basement dweller
> Windows Hacker: Corporate dweller
> Mac Hacker: Art room dweller

I wouldn't "sum" it up that way at all.

It captures the stereotypes accurately, yes, but the Real World is infinitely more varied.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Does anyone here but me *not* consider themselves one or the other.  I love J2EE, but i'm just as happy to be working on an ASP.NET project.  I love the fact that linux is free, but if I'm working for someone who has money to spend, I love windows 2000's ease of use.  It doesn't really matter to me.  C# is basically the same thing as java, so there are slightly different implementations of the same basic design patterns.    I like both.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I'm with vince.  I go all ways: Mac, linux, windows, open source, commercial software, Java, C#, PHP, whatever.  While I love the concept of open source and use it often, I sometimes worry about my job being offshored.  I love the feel of a Mac, but I can't use it for everything (at least not yet).  .NET is very cool, and anyone who's tried building a WinForms app in VS.NET wishes everything were as easy.  I just think there are exciting things everywhere.  Why choose?

Nick Brosnahan
Thursday, January 15, 2004

sing it nick!  Im with you and vince.

actually nicks is the post I would have made if I had thought of it.

Thursday, January 15, 2004


First, thanks for catching my spelling error, you're right it should've read "sum". 

"It captures the stereotypes accurately, yes, but the Real World is infinitely more varied."

Second, I was casting a huge generalization for brevity sake.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Jonas: No joke intended, I probably typed it wrong.

vince: Same here.  I use Windows and Linux; MySQL, Access, and OS/400; and Perl, VBScript, PHP, etc. here at work, and that's just the developer side of my job.  I don't feel like I fit into a mold, and I don't think many people in our business (the good ones anyway) do.  My curiosity was from a comedic/marketing/media standpoint: "How would a Windows developer be portrayed in a Dilbert or User Friendly comic?"

Thanks to everyone for the input.  It's appreciated.

Andrew Burton
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Nick Brosnahan knows what's up. I am or have been an App Dev/Web Dev/ DBA/Network admin on Window/Linux/*NIX. I'm not brililant at any of it, but alot better than your average Joe Schmo. I use whatever they want, is at hand, or is necessary.

I'm a backward pigmy when it comes to Macs but that doesn't mean I won't be working it tomorrow or the next day.

For me, I love to program. If tomorrow they want an ecomm site running on linux using java, jsp and servlets on apache/jakarta tomcat server I'll be happy as a dog at the beach, but if they want a 3-tier business ap written in delphi running on windows accessing an informix database on *nix system I'll STILL be as happy as a dog at the beach.

Having said that, give me another project writing a business app in excel and you'll be reading about me going postal, rampaging through the streets of Perth.


Jack of all
Friday, January 16, 2004

Mac Hackers:  "Jerome, how could you do that scrollbar in turqoise? Haven't you read: Steve declared spring to be mauve." "Oh, Maurice darling, what would I do without you?" "Love you too, Romy!" "Hey, I crashed" "Great, lets watch the smiley faces together!" "Ain't it fabulous?"

GNU Hackers: "We zave a zraitor in our midz. I ziscovered zis zhell zcript named with more zhan 5 zaracters, zwo of vich were fowelz" "Est is under control. Comrad Sweinstein accidently let eine luser onto the zysteem." "Klaus?" "Sheisse, meine mutty, be kweit comradez" "Yes mommy?" "It is 9:00 pm on a school night. Tell your friends goodnight and come upstairs to drink your coco." "Just one  more minute, mother". "Sheisse, I crashed" "No, it did not" "Repeat after me, GNU Linux never crashes, NEVER!" "Are you loosing faith, comrad Gehrig?" "Nein mein freund, we will adjuzt ze uptime together".

Windows hackers: "The compiler said 'missing semicolon at line 42, what do I do?" "Have you tried rebooting?" "How do I do that?" "Just hit the power switch." "Power switch?" "Yeah restart the machine bozo" "Ah, you want me to pull the cord?" "Yes." "Now what" "Put it back in" ... 'Starting Windows 2000' ... 'username: Administrator' ... 'password: sexgod' "Yes baby!" "Hey Mike, how long do you think we have to wait after we release Nutepad 3000 before we can sue Microsoft?" "If we get this thing to compile tonight, release tomorrow, then we can still get the case filed before the weekend, but if you forget your password again like you did last week and we have to start over again, then no way we can file before Monday." "Tonight it is then. I still need to file my patent on the use of the @ sign in email addressing tomorrow, since I accidentily jumped the gun on the 'seize and desist' letters yesterday."

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, January 16, 2004

"Is there a Windows Programmer Culture"

The bald guys (having torn out all our hair long ago) who are tying the light cable  rope 'round our neck and trying to kick away the chair (no more hair left to pull out, see).

Friday, January 16, 2004

They shop at the Gap. After all, the Gap has the widest install and user base of any other clothing store. They also watch all the blockbuster movies (1,000,000 fans on opening weekend can't be wrong) and have exactly 2.1 children.

They upgrade their car every 3 years exactly, and of course they lease, and wish they could establish an agreement where you pay a fixed price every year and automatically get a new car. They also purchase all the upgrades, which they call patches. Usually it's a Toyota or a Ford.

They listen to Top 40 radio or Classic Rock, of course, and while they're pleased to see some of the features of Hip Hop being integrated, the idea that the top 10 currently consists of all Hip Hop artists worries them, but they're uncertain why.

They always buy the extended service warranty, and accept it at face value when the salesman tells them they cannot get the car without the protective "undercoating," despite rulings from the Federal Government to the contrary.
Friday, January 16, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home