Xavier Magazine

Profile: Michael Fortin

Michael Fortin Bachelor of Science in computer science, 1985 Distinguished engineer, Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.


Windows of Opportunity | Fortin began working in Microsoft’s Windows division 10 years ago and currently leads the development team responsible for Windows’ overall performance. Last summer, his efforts were recognized with a new title: distinguished engineer, the second-ranking title in Microsoft’s engineering pantheon.

Fetching the Future | Most recently, Fortin’s algorithmic crystal ball contributed to Microsoft’s new Windows Vista SuperFetch, ReadyDrive and ReadyBoost technologies. These have been in the news for several years but were released for manufacturing in November and became available to consumers in January.

Applied History | Fortin and his team formulated the ideas and did the bulk of the engineering for these technologies, which among other things optimize a computer’s performance by combing though historical use patterns to predict what the user might want the machine to do next, then preloading those applications.

Typed | Fortin became interested in computers while a student at Turpin High School in Cincinnati. “The school started a programming class using some of the early personal computers,” he says. “I could type quickly and there were more students than computers, so I was generally used to input our programs. Since I was doing all the ‘hands-and-fingers’ work, my skills grew faster than the others in the class.”

Life Lesson | During his Xavier years, Fortin learned a timeless lesson from the father of one of his roommates: “You get out what you put in.” “His son went to the library for at least three hours every day and got As in every class that semester while I got Bs and Cs. I decided to apply myself, to see if I’d get out what I put in. I did. I have ever since.”

North to Southwest | After leaving Xavier, Fortin went to the Ohio State University where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science. He then took a position designing operating systems and platforms with IBM in Austin, Texas.

Family Affair | Michael isn’t the only Fortin at Microsoft. His brother David is the company’s senior director of product management for Windows Live and MSN Communication Services.

Forward Thinking | As part of a company used to being ahead of the game, it isn’t surprising that Fortin remains focused on the future. “I believe a big part of what I’ll be doing over the next few years is working to develop more and more innovations that allow systems to automatically detect issues and self- correct for them,” he says. Greg Schaber

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