By now it’s no surprise that Boyd Multerer, one of the fathers of modern gaming, recently left his position as Director of Development for the Xbox. He left on amicable terms with the company he’d worked at for 18+ years, even dispelling one Twitter user’s assumption that he was unhappy with Microsoft management. Boyd Multerer felt that in order to grow as a person, he needed to move on to newer and uncertain things and continue to challenge himself. The amount of people on Twitter surprised by this choice seemed disproportionate, especially considering Boyd’s history of pushing the envelope and constantly inventing and trying new things. Let’s take a look back at Boyd Multerer — the innovator, the software engineer, and the father of Xbox Live.
It’s important to understand the magnitude of Boyd’s contributions to the gaming and tech industries — even though his name is not as renowned as Hideo Kojima, Gabe Newell, or Jade Raymond, his accomplishments at Microsoft effectively changed the Internet and gaming as we knew it. Right after graduating college in 1990, he started a small company called Zephyr Design which focused on computer publishing programs. While managing Zephyr Designs, Boyd saw the Internet coming to fruition and decided he could do something amazing with it before leaving in 1997 to focus on Microsoft.
At Microsoft, Boyd helped develop an extensible web server for use with Windows NT, called Internet Information Services (IIS). The idea behind IIS was to support all sorts of plug-ins and allow developers to insert their own program routines. As of February 13 of last year, IIS is still the second most popular web server worldwide, behind Apache HTTP. Boyd wrote the certificate management tools as well as most of the shipping code for version three, four, and five before moving onto Lead Developer of an Application Center Server. This project essentially created a datacenter for management tools to replicate and control web applications easily and allow for further flexibility.
In August 2000 he became Development Manager for a brand new project, Xbox Live. There he led the direction and implementation of the service including security, identity protocols, team management, budgets, and marketing plans — Boyd was also the first person to ever register and sign in to Xbox Live. Thanks to Boyd’s contributions to the Xbox team, XBL has flourished in the games market for over ten years. Did that success satisfy his need for change? It would appear not.
In 2004 Boyd became Product Manager of what would be one of his biggest contributions to the world yet. Microsoft XNA is a set of tools that facilitates game development. Based on the well known .NET framework, it was the basic platform for Xbox Live Indie Games and was still in use until January 2013 when it was revealed that Windows 8 and the new Windows RT platform wouldn’t support it. Several recent games were developed using XNA as the framework, including MagicalTimeBean’s Escape Goat, Zoë Mode’s Chime, and SuperGiant’s Bastion.
From there, Boyd went to Partner Director of Development within the Xbox team, designing the development of all software for both the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One — including the operating system for Kinect, its user interface, the console infrastructure, and television services for Xbox Live. He diligently worked in that position for three years and eight months without any breaks in his passion. He has recently left to pursue a new project.
Boyd himself has remained rather tight-lipped about his current project, only stating he’s having a lot of fun and spending lots of time coding. Whatever it may be, we will all have to wait with bated breath. If his history is anything to go by, it could change the playing field in tech for years to come. It could also be a program to run something like a Rube Goldberg machine, but chances are it’s the former.
Many people expressed their respect and admiration for Boyd, sending heartfelt tweets saying how XNA helped them become developers themselves, and how much Boyd’s work has changed their lives. Tom Spilman of Sickhead Games showed his respect, telling Boyd that XNA was the application framework for Monogames — a game development software that allows Windows games to run on other systems.
Whatever the project may be, it’s unfortunate for Microsoft to lose such a valuable asset. It’s clear that he has touched the game development and software industry, and even continues to help the community in his free time. At the same time it’s great to see that Boyd himself is happy and excited about his future. He’s earned a bit of a break, but knowing his reputation, it won’t last long. He is constantly challenging himself and continuing to grow both as a human and a software developer. It’s refreshing to see, and while some news outlets are reporting it as a negative in light of the recent departures, it’s clear that Boyd isn’t going to leave people’s hearts or minds. He’s moved onto his next big thing sure, but we’re sure to hear from him again in the future.
We wish you well in your future endeavors Boyd Multerer, and look forward to whatever you may have in store for us all.