A Tour Of Microsoft's Truly Gigantic, Sprawling Headquarters

Microsoft Offices 35Filmateria Digital LLCIn Microsoft’s ‘high-five’ hallway.

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.

As you can see, it looks like there's nothing particularly special about this building.

But, tucked inside is Microsoft's vision for the future.

We got a tour of how Microsoft sees technology changing our lives in the future.

It recreated a workplace of the future, a home of the future, and more in this space.

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.

After a longer-than-expected wait, a van showed up to shuttle us.

Inside the shuttle, you rate your experience through QR codes on your phone.

We got off after ~3 minutes at 'The Commons,' which is home to Microsoft's shopping mall and food court.

Here's a view of the space from a balcony. This is a relatively new building at Microsoft.

It's even got its own soccer field. It was early when we were there, so it was empty.

Before jumping into the Commons, though, we went to Studio B.

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.)

After a tour through the Model Shop it was back to the Commons.

Inside the Commons, there is this big elephant sculpture.

The people that do Pike Place have a mini-Pike Place in the Commons.

There are also Microsoft devices on display.

A pinball machine is tucked off the to the side.

A jazz band was setting up to play tunes for the day.

And across from the main Commons building is the Spitfire Grill.

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.

After eating at Cafe 16, we walked over to another part of the campus.

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.

This weird thing was near the soccer field. It might be a phone charger?

There was also a volleyball court. Beach volleyball is not as popular as soccer.

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.

It's currently getting a makeover to be more modern.

Like any modern, hip tech office space, it has some free snacks.

The conference rooms have cool illustrations on them.

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.

But, Microsoft is going for the new look, as you can see in this bright red conference room.

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.

This office also has a pool table.

And in one of the adjacent buildings, there's the 'high five' hallway, where people have to give each other high fives.

Obligatory ping pong table.

This guy has an awesome monitor set up.

This is a cool idea: Detachable whiteboards. You can scrawl your ideas on a whiteboard and bring them with you wherever you go.

This guy had a plaque for a patent on his desk. Pretty neat!

We were able to see a basketball court from the building.

From those older buildings, we headed over 'The Garage,' which is Microsoft's space for employees to work on side projects.

There are a lot of tools for employees that want to tinker.

The Garage has bike racks for employees.

And a lot of cool stuff printed from 3D printers.

Here's one of the spacious work spaces.

And a bunch of random scrawl. Or maybe it's a brilliant secret plan?

And that's it! We tried to give you an idea of how big and diverse Microsoft really is.

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