I drove around the MS campus, met with a friend of a friend, and checked out the guest center that MS built a few years ago. Key notes: MS sure is huge! They have over 100 buildings, spread out over several campuses in the area.
Flickr Set: MS & Jigsaw. Some of the buildings are huge too, like Building 99, the Microsoft Research building, which has about 900 full time employees inside. I got to play with Microsoft Surface at their guest center, and I came away seriously unimpressed, it’s no wonder they never bothered to commercialize it. It’s not very responsive (you really have to press to get it to recognize your touch), it misses a lot of multi-touch gestures, and on top of that the demo software is hideously unintuitive. I guess it’s a few years old, but still, they know that and yet it’s given prominent placement in their guest center?!? Anyway, I figured being this close, I had to visit the belly of the beast, even if the beast is dying. It’s like most of the other corporate campuses I have visited: entirely unexciting from the outside. Building 9, where supposedly the executives (like Steve Balmer) have their offices, is the same as all the other buildings.
Jigsaw Renaissance, the first of three hackerspaces I toured / will be touring in Seattle, is rad. Super open space, very welcoming with lots of natural light. They are clearly the elves. They’ve got a great space for having discussions and watching movies on big projected screen. Plus, they do have a few tools, rapidly increasing in number or so I am told :-). I participated in a Seattle H+ group discussion, I showed them a bunch of my slides from the sensory augmentation talk that I gave at BIL. And we watched Water World, it’s bad in a really unique, $300M way, that is awesome. Jigsaw is in retail zoned space, so they “sell” memberships and the law requires them to post a “members only” sign on the door. But immediately below that sign they also have a please come in sign, which is the true spirit of the place.