I joined Microsoft back in 2001. I’ve worked on the same Microsoft campus — the Millennium campus in northeast Redmond — until this week.
In the early days of Xbox development, Millennium campus was a great place to be. Xbox was a skunkworks project. We were off the radar. We were away from the main Microsoft campus, free to do our thing: ride skakeboards in the hallways, cover all the lights in green plastic, and race RC cars in the parking lot.
Then we shipped Xbox. Then Xbox LIVE. Then Xbox 360. We grew. A lot. The parking lot was too crowded. Sometimes it was impossible to find a spot. People were doubled up in offices, then tripled. We were spread across too many buildings, then spread all over Redmond. The magic of those early days was gone.
This week we moved to a new Microsoft campus called Studios West. It’s a different style of building for Microsoft. The intent is a more collaborative workspace, and even after only a week, it’s clear that the experience here will be much different. Better in many ways, though not all.
Everybody now has their own workspace again. Parking isn’t a problem. The food options are much more diverse (though more expensive). The mall-like atmosphere in the Commons is a strange but welcome change. The opportunity to sit outside for lunch now exists.
The best thing is that we’re all back together again. In those last few years at Millennium, the people that I used to see at least once a week in the early days were rarely glimpsed. They were spread far and wide. Now I see them again, and those impromptu connections and discussions are going to lead to better products and more delighted customers. There’s some new magic in the air.