What It’s Like to Work at Microsoft – A Field Guide, Part 1

At Microsoft, bugs get opened, triaged, de-duplicated, assigned, re-assigned, re-re-assigned, resolved, closed, re-opened, and re-resolved on the glide path to zero blocking bugs for ship. Software engineering is true engineering, but it’s messy – it comes in fits and starts, and just when you get rolling along,

Oh. Time for a break.

A soda sounds good,

Microsoft will keep you well-caffienated and hydrated. There are coolers with carbonated and non-carbonated beverages, dairy, juices, flavored waters, dispensing machines with over 100 options, tea, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, Starbucks coffee,

(they don’t go out of order all that often, but people post some great signs when they do,) and filtered cold, room temperature, and hot water,

conveniently labeled by facilities. These kitchen areas can be a cornucopia of amusement. From the corporately-mandated slapstick attempts to do the right thing,

(those first-generation biodegradable utensils just couldn’t stand the heat in the kitchen; yuk, yuk,) to the anonymous and sublime posters that appear on the bulletin boards before disappearing into the night on the last Friday of the month,

Speaking of posters, there was an era when every minor product launch or internal initiative required putting up a poster on what seemed like every wall in every building. It’s become much better than it used to, but like cicadas, they seem to have their own rhythm.

It can be barren for months, then messaging explodes and appears everywhere in riotous superlatives and exhortations on cafeteria tabletop placards, in mail slots, on walls, on banners hung from stanchions, on stickers, in elevators. Even on bathroom entrances, stall doors, and mirrors, leaving everyone wondering,

Microsoft Redmond is a very large campus, and has many far-flung offices around the world, so try not to think too much about the costs of printing, distributing, and displaying this marketing propaganda.

Instead, go back to your office to work. Think about if you’re nailing your commitments and who else on the team might be doing better than you. Write and respond to some email.

And now some more email.

Even more.

Keep going.

Oh, crap, I should have responded to that a week ago…

I need a rule for this stuff.

Wait! What was I doing before email? Oh yeah. Back to that!

Now…maybe if I just try this, I’ll be able to…crap!

Maybe a walk around campus will help. Microsoft has recently upgraded its walking/jogging trails, with clearly marked signage,

(yes, those cameras are everywhere,) trails that take you through some tranquil and restorative settings,

and there’s even some signage that displays the company’s quirky sense of humor,

Seriously, if you ever work at Microsoft, get out of your office and look around. There’s always something beautiful or interesting to see. There’s gorgeous seasonal landscaping in some places,

scenes of calming stillness and vibrant practical jokes on St. Patrick’s Day,

whimsey,

and SWAT armored personnel carriers when dignitaries visit.

Truly, don’t miss the seasons go by, (from your office of course!)

Often, there are some great snacks for breakfast that are available,

Of course, after all that caffeine, it’s time for a bio break, which turns into another opportunity for your co-workers to display their humor by trying to help explain the new water-saving toilets that are being retrofitted into older buildings,

If you forget to wash your hands during flu season, handy mirror clings will remind you to. Now, back to work, and this time, ignore the email.

Are you feeling it now? That groove of getting stuff done? It’s great, isn’t it? Keep going…stay on target…almost there…damn!

OK, let’s wait this one out. It’ll just be a quick reboot and…oh holy hell!

Don’t panic.

Call helpdesk…

Fuck it. Let’s go get lunch. Where’s the car parked?

There is no singular Microsoft garage or parking area. Parking ranges from vast, cavernous appeasements to the motor-car that could house a city of people in a pinch,

to cramped, beam-studded, angular, landmark-free mazes local body shops love for the customers they send. Luckily, the more confusing garages have maps posted,

If you’re a gearhead, Microsoft garages and parking lots are great for car spotting,

but even with tens of thousands of spots, parking can still be tight and some will take shortcuts when they’re in a hurry,

(As an aside, it’s mostly BMWs I see doing this and many Directors at Microsoft drive BMWs. But we’re engineers, so correlation does not imply causation unless we gather more data!)

In a word, traffic in the area during working hours (10 AM – 4 PM) sucks, and when other people are trying to get to where they’re going before or after, it can be hellish,

If the traffic congestion doesn’t give you pause, do consider the tens of thousands of Type-A people from around the world, some who come from places where they drive on the other side of the road and have no traffic signals, (like Medina, WA,) all gunning to cut in front of you to turn right.

Continued in part 2…

Advertisements

One response to “What It’s Like to Work at Microsoft – A Field Guide, Part 1

  1. Pingback: What It’s Like to Work at Microsoft – A Field Guide, Part 2 | kilbo

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s