Austin Z. Henley

I work on software.


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Leaving Microsoft

12/16/2023

I left my position at Microsoft after nearly two years.

It had been my dream job for decades—in grade school, I wanted to work on Visual Studio, and then in grad school, I wanted to be a researcher.

Previously, I even spent two summers at Microsoft: in 2016 as a research intern working on a code review tool and in 2019 as a visiting researcher working on computational notebooks. I fell in love with the chocolate milk on campus!

But then I finally got my chance to join full time. I left academia in January 2022 to join the PROSE research team in DevDiv.

It was a treasure trove of opportunities! I worked on AI features across many products, including an experimental education product, Visual Studio, Data Wrangler, Excel, Power Query, Power Apps, and Prompt Flow. People use our features daily.

Ironically, I also published at a far higher rate than I did in academia! I co-authored 6 papers, still have several others in review, and won an IEEE Best Paper Award.

I even survived the ChatGPT chaos and ensuing stampede to add LLMs to virtually everything. I led the early user research to understand the pain points that developers face while integrating LLMs into their projects, and I had strong opinions about natural language interfaces.

There were many good times. In fact, I had just been promoted, moved orgs, and shifted roles. I learned a lot and worked with great people. Hopefully, I made some product impact along the way too.

Thanks to all the great colleagues: Sumit Gulwani, Rong Lu, Danny Simmons, Joe Binder, Chris Parnin, Jessica Rich, Bhavya Chopra, Ananya Singha, John Lam, Gustavo Soares, Jill Jacobson, Anna Fariha, Dan Morris, Jeffrey Mew, Vu Le, all of our fantastic interns and fellows, and many more.


My life has changed a lot in the last several months, and there is more change coming.