My Crazy Seattle Adventure
I spent the last week or so in Seattle, Washington pinging practically every Microsoftie I knew in an attempt to get a tour of the software giant's Redmond campus (with apologies to the Zune team as a whole). I finally got an in via a friend who worked on the Windows Cluster Server team. Though she didn't have or want much to do with the Xbox/Zune devs ("too much Kool-Aid drinking"—or "very, very into what they're doing" as she put it), she did point out the extent of Microsoft's commitment to the Entertainment and Devices division. Turns out the Zune, Xbox and (I think) Windows Media Center teams are all getting a new building across the street from Building 25 on the Redmond Campus. Not only will the huge building allow closer interaction between the members of the Zune and Xbox teams, but it's also going to be right by Microsoft's other main product teams. Also of note, when completed it'll feature the largest underground parking facility on the campus (and I believe she said it's also the largest in Washington state) in the Western Hemisphere(!).
My one regret about the visit is that there wasn't more Zune swag in the Microsoft Company Store. They have a whole rack set up with Zune 4/8 (with 80's out of stock) and plenty of official accessories, but very little by way of Zune t-shirts, which I really wanted. In fact, the only Zune-branded apparel in stock was an ugly green windbreaker with a Zune logo on the breast pocket. All in all, I can't say I'm too dissapointed; I picked up Gears of War for $20 and some Lindor chocolates. Sweet.
Update: The parking garage is the largest in the Western Hemisphere, not just Washington state. Wow.