I'm in Redmond this week meeting with other authors and publishers at Microsoft's annual Publishing Parters Summit. I certainly credit Microsoft for doing a great deal to support and encourage the writing community. As you probably know, I've written five technology books since 1994 (hard to believe that's over 10 years ago!) with "SQL in a Nutshell" published by O'Reilly & Associates as my most popular title.
It's expensive for a vendor, in terms of resources, to send a lot of developers and product managers to events like this. Yet Microsoft has made a great many developers and product managers for a variety of great Micrsoft products available to us for questions, discussion, and for a number of great presentations.
If you have writing aspirations, I have a bit of advice for you. When you think about Microsoft's current set of products under development (e.g. Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, Longhorn, etc), you can see that Microsoft is paying the upfront costs of a huge variety of architectural upgrades today. The benefit for us is that once we get to RTM for all of these products, the subsequent release of upgrades will come much faster because Microsoft has already laid the groundwork for a great many new features, tools, and extensions.
What does this mean for aspiring writers? Well, it means that we're about to crest a big hump in the publishing curve where a lot of new book titles and magazine articles will be in high demand! So sharpen your pencils, learn the new technology while it's still in beta, and start pitching your ideas to book publishers, magazines that you like, and your favorite websites. Demand is quite pent up, so you will have a multitude of opportunities!
Let me know if you have more interest in this topic and I can point you to some very specific resources for aspiring technology writers.