While the name Gabe Aul won’t mean much outside of Microsoft enthusiast circles, he’s provided a steady hand since the original Windows 10 announcement and in his role leading the Windows Insider program. Unfortunately, Gabe is moving on from that role, though he will still be guiding Windows development internally.
“Gabe Aul is transitioning leadership of the Windows Insider Program to Dona Sarkar,” a Microsoft representative told me. “Gabe wants to focus on working with engineers to improve Windows engineering systems to build a better OS for everyone. He’s loved managing the Windows Insider Program, but feels that it’s now time to pass the torch onto someone who can give it 100 percent of their attention.”
Gabe is one of those incredibly nice and giving people, and his reactions and responses to the insane feedback he gets on Twitter, in particular, has been eye-opening. Where I would ignore the insanity, or simply block the biggest crazies, he has more of an “everyone is a winner” take on things, regards all feedback as valuable, and appreciates that people have such enthusiasm. I don’t know how he does it.
“My career has always been about feedback, listening, and being customer-obsessed,” Gabe explains. “When I first started at Microsoft, I started in product support taking phone calls from our customers. Even though I changed jobs, I wanted to keep managing the Windows Insider Program because I loved it so much.”
One big question, of course, is how Ms. Sarkar will perform in this capacity, given the big shoes she has to fill. Because leading the Windows Insider program, at least under Gabe, was as much about dealing with individual Insiders as it is communicating new builds and other information via a corporate blog.
Microsoft tells me that Dona has worked at Microsoft for many years, and that she started her career as a software engineer on Windows Vista. Most recently, she was working on the HoloLens development experience, so we know she at least has some experience dealing with crazy people. But I kid.
“I have worked with Dona for many years and think she is the perfect person to guide the Windows Insider Program forward,” Gabe says. “Her technical expertise, passion for customers, and commitment to listening to feedback is unmatched … Dona is incredibly excited to take on this new role, and even when we first started talking about the possibility she was sharing great ideas and insights on where we can improve on the program going forward. She says that she has been ‘waiting for this job for 11 years’.”
You can learn more about Dona Sakar from this Microsoft Stories profile. But she is very active online, with presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, a personal blog, and even her own fashion blog. She’s also a published author.