As a global force in computer and software technology for both consumer and enterprise, Microsoft has plenty of establishments throughout the world. However, Redmond is where Microsoft considers as its hometown since the Pacific Northwest city is the location of the company’s corporate headquarters. We recently visited the massive campus and had a glimpse of what it feels like to be among the Microsofties right at the heart of Microsoft.
Interestingly, our tour didn’t begin at the Redmond campus itself. Instead, it started at the Microsoft Store that is located in a mall at a nearby city called Bellevue which itself holds a special place in Microsoft’s history as the company was based in Bellevue after it was relocated from Albuquerque in 1979 and before Microsoft permanently moved to its Redmond campus in 1986.
Surprisingly, the outlet in Bellevue was not the first Microsoft Store around as that honor belongs to the outlet in Scottsdale, Arizona. Instead, it was the seventh outlet in the line and if you wondering, no, there is no Microsoft Store in Redmond campus. However, there is a different kind of retail outlet called the Company Store (more on that later).
While we have previously explained the differences between Microsoft Authorized Reseller Store in Malaysia and Microsoft Store in United States, those differences were very apparent and felt amplified once we stepped into the outlet itself.
The first stop of our actual Redmond campus tour is Microsoft Visitor Center which is one of the very few areas within the campus that are openly accessible to members of the public. It acts as a “museum” that briefly explains the history of Microsoft and showcases a selection of products as well as technologies that the company produced.
For those who are well-versed in computing history and technology, we feel that there is nothing new to learn at the Visitor Centre for them which might be even too limited for such crowd but nevertheless, it might be able to help generate interest in computing and information technology for the youngsters.
Microsoft’s Redmond campus is so massive that the company decided to implement its own transportation network called Microsoft Connector. The network not only allows Microsoft staff to travel from one building to another within the campus but it also helps them commute to the campus from their home and vice versa.
Located in Building 99, Microsoft Research Lab was first opened in 1991 and soon expanded to 10 other locations throughout the world including including Microsoft Research Asia lab that we visited earlier this year in Beijing, China. In total, there are more than 1,000 researchers and engineers working on various subjects including machine learning, natural user interface, hardware and devices, quantum computing and many more.
In general, the work done by Microsoft Research can be categorized into four: Disruptive, Blue Sky, Mission-Focused and Sustaining. It might not be obvious to end users but plenty of the work done by Microsoft Research did actually end up in consumer products.
One example is in the area of machine learning which powers plenty of Microsoft products out there that are required to process huge amount of data continuously. Such products include Bing Search which itself a big machine learning system as well as Cortana and Microsoft Band wearables.
We were told that even the matchmaking system in Halo games for Xbox consoles also utilizes machine learning in order to players according to their playing patterns and skills. During our tour, Microsoft Research has also showcased several projects that are currently in progress at the division.
There are still more to come from our tour of Microsoft’s Redmond campus. So, stay tuned for part 2 of the tour coming your way next week!