Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Allchin goes from Windows to whammy bars

Seattle has an overabundance of rock musicians for a city its size, from pure garage amateurs to club bands to touring stars.
Microsoft employs about 40,000 people in the Seattle area today, and there are legions of ex-Microsofties who stuck around after they left the company. So there's bound to be some overlap between the two groups.
I know several serious and talented musicians who have or had day jobs at the 'Soft, but they tend to downplay the connection--showing up sober to work every day to build or sell software just doesn't play well in rock biographies.
Of course, some employees are so famous that it would be silly to pretend otherwise. Jim Allchin, who led Windows development for more than a decade, is among them.
I had heard for years that Allchin is a serious guitarist, and as Todd Bishop reports today, now he's got an album coming out.
After listening to the samples on Allchin's Web site, I will say that he can certainly play. I'd guess that he counts Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, and Pat Metheny among his guitar influences.
He also produced the record, and his Web site has a bit of info about his recording techniques and gear: everything was recorded straight to hard drive using MOTU interfaces (I'm going to guess PCI rather than USB or FireWire) and Sonar Producer digital-audio workstation software--which is, not surprisingly, Windows-only (though you can run it on a Mac with emulation software). But I wonder if he used Windows Vista or XP?
Although Allchin's fairly famous in the tech community, he's probably the second most famous ex-Microsoft guitarist. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, a longstanding guitar player, released an album with his band Grown Men a few years ago. He's particularly well-known in Seattle music circles for jam sessions that can occur any time, any place.

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