Yesterday Bill Gates made his final speech as head of Microsoft at the Consumer Electronics Show in San Fransisco. And he hammed it up with a little video about his last day at work come June when he officially retires.
Corny, but it reminded me to throw up a few photos from a visit I made to the Microsoft campus in Redmond in December. I've always been fascinated by technology and how it changes the way we live. It is safe to say that nothing in human history has had such a profound affect in such a short period of time as the personal computer. In less than 30 years computers have invaded every aspect of our lives. And since the opening up of the web in '94 the way we acquire and consume information and entertainment has revolutionized our expectations for corporations, governments, celebrities and information itself by giving us greater and more timely control and choice. All of which is manifesting itself in profound ways for brands in how they exist and what the mean and do.
While easy to dislike them as a company, it's also easy underestimate the huge role Microsoft has had in this evolution and the huge role Bill Gates himself had. The thing about the computer revolution is that you can link so many macro changes to a few individuals/groups such as Bill, PARC, Gordon Moore and Steve Wozniak among the more famous. Or even the folks behind the TCP/IP protocol that allowed all computers, regardless of manufacturer to talk to one another.
So I really enjoyed the opportunity to go and explore the Microsoft campus. While out of discretion I won't share much of what the offices and campus is like (though I will note the ironic observation of a lot of Apple like design on murals and internal communications) the part I will share are some photos from the visitor center. It was neat to see the history of where technology has come but also some of the "future" products. As an advertising/marketing professional it was like crack.
There were portable loos everywhere. But that's a reflection of construction. It's everywhere as they build more offices. A physical testament to the modern information company. To grow you don't build more factories, you hire more people.
Security is naturally tight. Badges and escorts required at all times when in the actual office parts themselves. However, despite all the computers, human error is rampant. Not even close to correctly spelling my name.
Entering the visitor center.
An original copy of Bill's 1976 open letter to hobbyist computer users on how paying for software will make better software.
There were numerous examples of facial recognition software that worked really well. Here I am thinking what I normally am... nothing.
A bunch of guys that probably felt some serious payback at their 30th high school reunion when they arrived on their personal helicopters, flown from their yachts dockets on their personal island/countries. Well done folks! Lets all just be greateful they used their powers for good, not evil.
Lots of XBox action. The lounged featured most recent games. Some people in there looked like they hadn't left in weeks.
Just thought this title was funny Time Manager for Management Consultants. Have picture in my head before the book was published of well paid men in nice suits confused as to what they should be doing at that moment running from meeting room to meeting room, running into each other.
A real live working version of the screne from Minority Report.
Tablet PC's with surprisingly accurate handwriting analysis. Apparently I am sharp and impatient. Learn quickly, skipping parts that seem useless. However make decisions carefully weighing pros and cons. The word impatient came up a number of times. So I left before finishing...
Computer lounge with all the latest goodies. Sadly, even on the Microsoft campus with all the latest Microsoft browsers and products run really slow. I really wanted them to be faster, but now know it's not just my computer sadly.
A wall of Pocket PCs. Remember those? Looked cool but seemed really, really out of date. But I'm sure the Apple museum has a Newton.
And to end, the world.