Microsoft’s campus acts as a somewhat perfect metaphor for the company.
It’s gigantic, it’s sprawling, and when you set foot on campus, you feel much more optimistic about Microsoft’s future than people outside the campus.
Microsoft is a complicated company.
Unlike Apple, which is really just an iPhone and iPad company, Microsoft has 12 different divisions that generate a billion in revenue.
So, when the Windows business is in bad shape, the Servers and Tools group, or the Office group, picks up the slack.
That’s why Microsoft’s revenue was up 4% last quarter on a year-over-year basis, despite the implosion of Windows. Compare that to Apple, which only saw revenue grow by 1% thanks to a shrinking iPad business.
Similarly, Microsoft’s campus isn’t just one giant doughnut shaped glass spaceship, like Apple is planning for its new headquarters. Instead, it’s over 120 buildings spread across Redmond, Washington.
It’s more like a town than a headquarters. To get around, you take Microsoft shuttles. Even people who spend lots of time at the campus get lost easily.
We visited Microsoft last June. We had a photographer with us taking photos. Here’s what it’s like to wander Microsoft’s massive campus.
We started our day at Building 33, which is next to building 34, which is where CEO Steve Ballmer works.
A scooter and some ivy decorate this space. (For more on what this space is all about click the link that's under this photo.)
After checking out Microsoft's home/workplace of the future, we went outside and waited for a shuttle to take us to another part of the campus.
We got off after ~3 minutes at 'The Commons,' which is home to Microsoft's shopping mall and food court.
This is what it's like in the lobby of a Microsoft building. You need a swipe card, or a Microsoft employee to get past the lobby.
Tucked in this building is Microsoft's 'Model Shop,' which is where it uses 3D printers to test out ideas for new hardware. (More on the Model Shop below.)
But we didn't eat at the Spitfire Grill, or the Commons. Instead we went to Building 16, which has the excellent Cafe 16.
We already published a full gallery on this place, which awesome. For more details check the link below.
We spotted some folks enjoying a lunch-time game of soccer. Note that this is a different soccer field than the one we saw earlier.
After a few minutes where we were lost on the campus, we finally reached our destination. We were in one of the original 6 buildings at Microsoft.
This is (we think) the Skype team. It's a pretty standard office set up. However, this is atypical at Microsoft. Most of the other buildings, where we couldn't take photos, had offices.
Microsoft tried to create an open-but-closed feel with this office. That thing hangs from the top closes off the space to keep things quiet but it's still open to people.
And in one of the adjacent buildings, there's the 'high five' hallway, where people have to give each other high fives.
This is a cool idea: Detachable whiteboards. You can scrawl your ideas on a whiteboard and bring them with you wherever you go.
From those older buildings, we headed over 'The Garage,' which is Microsoft's space for employees to work on side projects.
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