Great interview.  I am actually shocked to hear Joel say that the MS guys said not a lot of people were interested in compilers, if that's true, I'd like to interview some day (if I can make one myself first), because I figured it would be tough competition, like trying to join the elite game programmers out there.

John, I am one of those IT students who had to take Modula-2 during my first two introductory CS courses in university.  Oh My! Modula-2!  Perplexed 

I had already learned BASIC long before, and a bit of Turbo Pascal from my dad, but Modula-2 was my first "pointer language", and still to this day I just wish they had of used C++, no offense.  By that time I guess I was just longing for a language I could use "anywhere" ... imagine my feeling of foolishness now for taking a COBOL language course because they said 70% of business code was written in COBOL ... *shiver*.....

I remember that Modula-2 and Turbo Pascal were similar enough that my dad enjoyed helping me out, but I think the most advanced thing I ever did with Modula-2 was write a Tic-Tac-Toe game, as one of the exercises in the textbox suggested. 

I'm a language geek, but until I write my first compiler, what do I know ... Modula-2 wasn't bad, but the CLR ... is amazing. 

Cheers!