Since Herb is new to the Microsoft fold I grabbed a few minutes (well, hours) of his time so we could get aquainted with who he is, what he does, and what, exactly, is happening with our beloved Visual C++.
So Herb - can you give us a quick rundown of your background and what you were doing before signing on with Microsoft.
Well, I've been doing mainly a lot of C++ writing, teaching, and consulting, and the C++ community is very important to me. By the way, I'm going to continue doing those things; that community contact is why Microsoft saw a good fit to hire me, and they want me to keep doing it.
So what is that today? Well, right now I'm secretary of the ISO/ANSI C++ standards committee, and I've participated actively in that committee since 1997. I'm also writing four columns about C++, mostly in C/C++ Users Journal where I'm also half of the magazine's editorial board, reviewing and editing other authors' articles and recommending what should be published and what needs work. I've got two C++ books out with Addison Wesley, Exceptional C++ and More Exceptional C++, and I'm working on two more, one with Andrei Alexandrescu. Everything I write, except for the final versions of material in the books, gets posted free for public reading on my website, www.gotw.ca. I've also been a moderator of the primary Internet newsgroup for the C++ language, comp.lang.c++.moderated, since its inception in 1995.
Again, all of that's going to continue. What's new is that I'm now also going to be Microsoft's liaison with the C++ community on all platforms, not just Windows, to keep the Visual Studio .NET team in touch with the community and make sure that what the community needs gets into the product.
What made you decide to join Microsoft? Did they have to convince you or did you pursue Microsoft?
I'll admit that it would have been a lot less tempting two years ago, back when Microsoft didn't seem all that interested in Standard C++. But in the past 12 to 18 months I've noticed a real change in priorities at Microsoft, as they've resumed joining us at the committee meetings and as they've started contributing to the community and started making noticeable progress with their product's standards conformance. I discovered, to our mutual pleasure, that now not only is conformance to the existing 1998 C++ standard as important to them as it is to me, but that they want to keep tracking the next-generation C++ standard whose development is just underway.
What will be your role at Microsoft?
My job is to be Microsoft's liaison with the C++ community. "The community" includes the standards committee, C++ conferences, and developers on all platforms. After all, Microsoft is naturally interested in making their tools appealing to everyone, even those who aren't using them yet, and conformance is an important part of making migration possible. There are many reasons, plus my own pre-existing personal ones, to be committed to fulfilling today's C++ standard and assisting the future development of the standard. A rising tide floats all boats, and standards conformance is good for everyone.
I hope to make a noticeable mark in the product. So now I need to give you a heads-up about something that I want to be very clear about, and namely "why" and "when" I will be pushing for language extensions in Microsoft's C++ even before the product is fully compliant to today's standard. Let me put it in perspective and then lay out my personal agenda:
Microsoft intends to conform 100% to Standard C++ as soon as possible. Period, no questio