Monday, February 27, 2006

My Trip to Redmond

Last week (2/21-2/22) I made a quick trip to Seattle/Redmond. I am part of a college committee assigned to make recommendations on design concepts for a new college building. We are currently traveling around the country visiting different companies and universities in an attempt to get some ideas. I volunteered to travel to Microsoft headquarters. Darren Gonzales generously offered to help me out. He put me in touch with the right folks and I had a wonderful tour of the MS Workplace Design Center. It was good to see Darren. We miss him here in the EMRL. After my morning tour, Darren took me to his office, gave me a tour of the MS campus, and we had lunch together.

The MS Campus is pretty nice. Lots of big pine trees. Here is the building where Darren works. This is the newest building on the MS campus. It is long and narrow (this is just one end of the building).

Here is a shot of one of the hallways in Darren's building. One of the unique features of MS is that they don't have any cubicles. Everyone has an office. Thus, they have thousands of offices and long hallways like this. To help people find their way around, they have assigned street names to the hallways.

Here is a shot of Darren in his office. He showed me what he is currently working on in Outlook and he also gave me a nice little tour of the new version of MS Office currently under development. It has a completely revamped interface.

Darren gave me a quick tour of campus. This is the building containing Bill Gates' and Steve Balmer's offices. The offices are on the top floor, I believe. I asked Darren if Gates and Balmer have a lot of security with them when they visit different parts of the campus. He says they don't.

Darren took me to a part of campus where they have little metal plaques inserted into the pavement of the sidewalk. Back in the day, each time there was a major release, they put a new plaque in with the software title. It was pretty interesting to go back and look through the history. They stopped doing this a few years ago. I suppose they produce too many titles now for this to be realistic. In the early years, they could get the entire year's releases on one plaque.

The explanation:

Here is where it all began:

Hey, I remember Flight Simulator. That was pretty cool at the time.

Anyone remember this one?

The night before my MS visit, I hooked up with Rus Berrett and we went to dinner. We went to an excellent steak house near Rus's home called "Jak's". Highly recommended. After dinner we went to his house and enjoyed conversation and fresh cookies with Kristy. Unfortunately, the kids were already in bed at this point. I got a tour of the ongoing remodeling project. I was wishing I had taken some photos, but then I realized that there it would have been redundant. Rus has a blog with all of the gory details here:

It was fun to catch up with Rus and Kristy.