It’s been another 365 days at Microsoft and we launched Windows 11

It’s official, I’ve been at Microsoft for another 365 days, making this my two year anniversary at this company. If you haven’t read last years reflection get caught up here:

As I begin to write this second year reflection, I’m sitting at a bagel shop in New York grabbing a quick bite to eat before heading to the Microsoft Experience Center on 5th avenue. This is my first business trip involving travel since February 2020 and we have a small but mighty team on the ground to help with the Surface fall launch.

If you asked me on my first day where I would be two years down the line, I would’ve never guessed that I’ll be in this bagel shop and typing on this Surface laptop as a dual Product Marketing Manager on the Windows Insider Program team and Modern Life Search & Devices Storytelling Demos team preparing for another company launch.

How it started vs. How it’s going: My first two demos and my very last on the team.

A few of my favorite moments on this team:

  • Being told on my first day that we’ll be launching Windows 11 the day after my birthday.
  • Bringing home over three phones and six PCs for beta testing.
  • Facilitating a 6-week D&I focused conversation on my team and securing funds for a long-term initiative within my organization.
  • Seeing what a film or production set looks like and the level of detail that goes into getting there — from scripting to storyboarding to designing approved content.
  • Launching over 10 demos in the consumer space and working with over 100 stakeholders across demos to make it happen.
  • Bringing my grandpa in the office to film a Windows 11 demo for Satya.
  • Having a room packed with new Surface devices in New York and building out demo content through the night with an amazing team in three different locations.
  • Launching Windows 11 with team Windows and attending a virtual concert with Tate McRae and Allen Stone while minting my Windows 11 NFT to celebrate.
How it started vs. How it’s going: My first couple times on-site for demo support in Seattle and my very last on the team in New York.

Five Key Learnings I’m Taking Away

  • Demo, sizzle, product videos are handcrafted with so much love and care: I will never look at company product videos the same way or take them for granted ever again. Going behind the scenes on the creation and preparation for these videos, I see that testing, scripting, storyboarding, designing, practicing, filming, editing, and managing the feedback loops is a grueling process. The logo you see placed .02 seconds in a video went through many cycles to get signed off. The script and storyboards need to consider the state of the live code and what resonate most with watchers. The actual content showed in the screens have been individually designed and handcrafted to match our value prop (also there may or may not be some easter eggs in our Windows 11 announce livestream).
  • Beta testing programs like the Windows Insider Program are so important: Before joining this team I’ve been an avid beta tester for products and apps within Microsoft but also outside of the company. Coming from the research team, I also understood the importance of telemetry data and diving deeper on qualitative feedback to shape future products based on user feedback. On this team, I saw from both an inbound and outbound perspective on how feedback gathered from our Insiders and self-hosters directly influenced our product road map, especially with Windows 11. Additionally, sifting through feedback or testing notes allowed our team to create demos aligned to product truth.
  • Making sense of the chaos is really addicting (at least for me): There are times our team would immerse ourselves with scope that haven’t been quite established yet. When preparing GTM or storytelling demo content, our team typically work weeks or months in advance with product teams to game plan how we can start creating the right launch material. Many times these teams are working as fast as they can to ensure the bits they provide are the most stable for us to use. This may lead to late nights with the team editing videos. Coming on-site to test hardware or software with engineering or development teams. And other times where I’ve been asked to be on camera to shoot a quick demo video. These environments are high intensity but seeing the final product and engagement is SO rewarding.
  • Saying goodbye is never easy, but understanding it can also mean growth: During my time on this team, I had a couple of team members pivot to other opportunities outside of our team. With that, I had to learn how to say goodbye to team members that onboarded me and were mentors from the very beginning. During the changes that took place on my team, I had the opportunity to connect with new team members and take additional responsibilities. With that, I had to learn how to ask questions, learn quickly, and take action. In addition, I learned how to prioritize my time and let my manager know when I needed help. Through this process, I felt like I grew x2 the speed and started to feel more confident in my abilities as a storyteller.
  • Understanding that relationships are still very much key even through a pandemic: Like many others, this was my first time onboarding remotely. I was curious to see how this would be different than my previous year where I started in-person. I’ve reconfirmed that team culture and connection is a huge value for me. Taking the extra steps to reach out to team members for a Teams virtual coffee chat, meeting once in a while for socially distanced lunches in the office or outdoors, and getting to know what makes each other tick outside of work has made this year joyful.

Thank you to: MLS&D Demo Team (Chad Collins, Charles Kimball, Chris Bartlett, Dave Robbs, James McGuire, Ray Trujillo, Megan Peck, Solanch Busto, Michael Yanez), Windows Insider Program Team, Gloria Sun, Phillip McClure, Jennifer Pollard, Susie Yang, Aaron Woodman, Katie Van Buren, Megan Purcell, Katie McGinnis, Noel Fountain, Thomas Bille, Jesse Kaler, Miles Bowser, Sutton Wunderle, Molly Hallahan, Ashlynn Tucker, Nils Sundelin, Nathan Luquetta-Fish, Alan Yu, Sameer Sankaran, Annemarie Callahan, ACE Rotational Program, Windows Marketing, MLS&D PMM, and so much more.

Gifted myself this purple sweater because I started part-time grad school today on my 25th birthday.

It never gets easy to say goodbye, especially right after launching Windows 11 to the world with an amazing team. My next chapter begins next week where I’ll be rejoining the Research + Insights organization and the M365 Consumer Research team to help drive forward a net-new space for the company in “creators” and kick-off my part-time Human-Centered Design Engineering Master’s Program at the University of Washington.

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Product Marketing Manager @Microsoft, prev T-Mobile, BCW Global, Peach, Jumpstart + Design Student ‘19 | leahshin.com 👩‍💻

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Leah Shin

Leah Shin

Product Marketing Manager @Microsoft, prev T-Mobile, BCW Global, Peach, Jumpstart + Design Student ‘19 | leahshin.com 👩‍💻

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