19 April 2006

A Tour of Microsoft's Mac Lab

Today I'll stop my 3rd person perspective. I'm going to write a little bit more about what I do to help MacBU ship great software and provide some color around what's it's like to work on Mac software at Microsoft. Often when we have press events or special visits from our MVPs I'll give them a tour of the Mac Lab and explain what we do. They've always found it very interesting and so I thought I'd share a virtual tour of our Mac Lab. Let's get started:

Lab Door

We start with the door. The Mac Lab is about 2000 square feet of solid computers. The calendars you see down the side of the wall we use to mark team birthdays as well as special events. The CD on the door is an old Apple Software Restore CD from the last beige Mac Apple produced, the Power Macintosh G3.

The "Sandbox" and Plasma display

The first area in the Mac Lab is what we call the Sandbox. This is where we keep all significant hardware configurations Apple has released that run our products. We'll use the Plasma display to, watch DVDs and play games, uh er, I mean, do important training presentations. ;-) It's actually very useful because everyone can be in front of a computer and still see the main screen and follow along. Often other groups at Microsoft (the games group, hardware drivers group and even the Windows media group) will come and schedule time in the Mac Lab to test their software on the different hardware configurations.

Old iMacs and iBooks in the distance

More Macs

We have lots of Apple hardware. You can see here the old colorful iMacs along with some of the old iBooks. You can also see two of our Lab Technicians working on the backup systems, but more about that later. Up until a few months ago we had every significant hardware revision Apple has ever released since the dawn of time. We even had a section of the Lab we affectionately called the "Mac Nursery" where we kept all the older Macs going. We even had an old SE/30 and IIci and super expensive Mac II all connected via PhoneNet running Spectre, just for fun. It's always super fun to boot Word 1.0 or Excel 1.0 on these old machines and see how much things have changed. Due to lack of space in the Lab we had to put all of these older machines into storage and recycled the following:

  • Macintosh (original)
  • Macintosh SE
  • Macintosh SE/30
  • Macintosh Classic
  • Macintosh Centris 610 <-- I had this one in my room during high school
  • Macintosh IIci
  • Macintosh IIsi
  • Power Macintosh 7100/66
  • Power Macintosh 7100/80
  • Power Macintosh 7500/100
  • Quadra 650
  • Power Macintosh G3
  • Duo Dock with Powerbook Duo 2300c
  • Power Computing PowerCenter Pro 210

May they rest in peace.

ADIC Backup Robots

One of the realities of working with computers is that things fail. More often then you might think. We've used different backup robots, but ever since we moved to ADIC we've never had a robot failure. They just make great stuff. We have 3 robots and use Veritas Backup Exec. It works pretty well, as you can see:

Lots of backup tapes

We also do offsite backups just incase "The Big One" hits, but for regular use these tapes work just great, except when they don't. Recently we had a failure and lost 400 GB of data! We restored it from the tapes and then discovered that the Mac version of the Backup Exec agent had a corruption bug causing the restores to be compromised! Veritas folk were super responsive and they should have a new Mac agent out soon. Backup software and file systems are in the class of software that simply must work, all the time. Alas, this is not always the case.

I'm going to skip the "Build Lab" section of our Lab since it's very much in transition. Maybe I'll post about that later. For now, on to our automation system!

Mac Office is one of those "software in the large" projects. There's really no way a team of our size would be able to adequately test all of Office without the use of automated testing. Every day we get a new build of Office from the build machines, we copy it to our Xserve RAID connected to our dual G5 Xserve for access by our 249 automation machines. We then run thousands and thousands of tests on the new build. Typically we get 4 builds of Office each day: English Ship, English Debug, Japanese Ship and Japanese Debug. We run our entire battery of tests against all the builds and then report any failures to testers via email. The testers investigate the failures, log any bugs and then move on to their other duties as testers. This turns out to be very effective, if used properly, and over time it allows testers to focus on things humans do best, while letting computers verify the repetitious and mundane, but necessary, testing. It all started with our Blue and White G3s years ago. At first when testers would upgrade their test machines, instead of recycling the machines, "The Lab" would get them to add them to our automation machine pool. I think we had about 20 machines to begin with.

Venerable Old Bluies

After some time we started getting Gray G4s...

Speedy G4s

Then we upgraded to some dual proc machines...

Dual G5s

Then Apple give us a special gift. :-) You'd be probably be very surprised at the cost of running all these machines. There's the obvious electricity costs, but also cooling costs and even the physical space costs. Additionally, our system scales, not with CPU horsepower, but with quantity of machines. Most of the tests we run don't run significantly faster on a dual G5 vs. a single G4. So when Apple announced the Mac mini it wasn't minutes before we were considering how to use it for our automation system. The Mac mini has all the perfect qualifications:

  1. Low power
  2. Low heat
  3. Small
  4. Easy to pack together
  5. Inexpensive

So we got a few to test things out...

Mixed Automation Rack

And then we made the big purchase:

Rack A, B and C = 150 Mac minis!

These work extraordinarily well. You might wonder how we control all these Macs. We use two methods: KVM switch box and Apple Remote Desktop. Thanks to our Lab Manager's great relationship with the IOGear folk we have a very reliable solution these days. It seemed like it took for ever to find a USB KVM switch box that didn't leave the machines "headless" after random reboots. The 8 port USB KVM from IOGear has been rock solid. So what does it look like to sit in front of 64 Mac minis? Like this:

64 Mac minis: 1 keyboard, monitor and mouse

This works very well when you must access the machines physically. Even so, just scanning each Mac for 1 second gets very old, very fast and Apple Remote Desktop comes to the rescue! When we need to see all the machines at once we just select them and BOOM! they're there. It also gives us what I believe is the one true reason Apple invented the 30 inch Display. ;-)

The 30 Inch Display: Fulfilling the measure of its creation.

ARD displays 50 machines at a time and when you have a capable machine, it uses the "cube rotation" effect to move from one group of 50 to the next. I got a picture of the effect mid rotation below:

Rotates like butter!

So how does it all work? Like this: On each machine we have two volumes: ChangeOS and Mac OS X. The Mac OS X volume is where we install the different versions of the OS. We boot to the ChangeOS volume to free up the Mac OS X volume for modification. When we trigger an automation run we specify the OS version and language. Each machine then reboots to the ChangeOS partition, caches the OS .dmg locally and uses the asr command line tool to restore the image. The tool that does this work is one I wrote (in AppleScript Studio no less!) called Lab Assistant. We have images of the Mac OS from 8.1 all the way up to 10.4.6 in all the languages our products support. It's a lot of data which brings me to the backbone of our automation system:

Our Xserve RAID and XSAN

1 TB

Right now we've just been testing out the XSAN stuff to see how we want to use it. That's why you see all the Xserves. Just one side of the top Xserve RAID is 1 TB of data. For a fun comparison this whole rack which is about 7 ft tall is full of old RAID arrays is also 1 TB of data storage. We call it the Big Mac Daddy.

Big Mac Daddy

Other groups at Microsoft have hardware retention policies that force hardware upgrades every so often, but instead of just "recycling" these server machines, our Lab Manager intercepts them on the way out, and we use them for various things, storage, SQL server etc. We actually have some of the old MSN servers in our Mac Lab!

Hallways

When you have so many machines to maintain, being able to get behind the machines is very important.

Lots o' cables!

Top View

We like to pack in those Mac minis and the cords get pretty dense when we do. The hanging Mac mini box moves if the HVAC is working. If it's not working, we've got to turn off the machines until it's fixed.

Our main automation Xserve has a habit of failing in some serious way once a year, always around Christmas time. :/ For the last 2 years I've been in charge of fixing it and getting it back to operational. Most of our server racks are generic white enclosures, but we do have 1 black Dell rack. As punishment for bad behavior, we put the Xserve in the Dell rack. That'll teach it. ;-) This is what it looks like from the inside of the rack looking out on the world. Poor caged servers...

From the server's perspective

Of course our iWork/iLife balance is just fine as you can see by the following:

Tornado Foosball Table

One of our team members bought this awesome Tornado foosball table which we use along with and XBox and XBox 360 to relax after a hard days work.

Published!

A while back the Seattle PI actually did a front page story on the Mac Business Unit and you can see from the picture in the Lab it was when we had only the G3s.

Gotta have the Mission Statement

As you enter the kitchen we have our MacBU mission statement to remind us what it's all about. :)

Free drinks of course!

Just like everywhere at Microsoft, we get all-you-can-drink beverages.

Fun Times!

Part of our team mantra is that we work hard, and play hard. So we do lots of fun morale events. We just take time off work and do stuff. We're good friends and enjoy "just hanging out" together.

The Mac Library

This is just a pretty picture to represent what is really a much bigger collection of 3rd Party software we use to test with Office. Most if it is stored on file servers, but this gives you an idea. (There's some old WWDC DVDs if you can find them!)

Printer Lab

More Printers

All connected for printer testing

They're beautiful

A big part of Office functionality is printing, and we do loads of print testing. We work really closely with the printer vendors and make sure the printed page looks great. WYSIWYG is fundamental to Mac ethos. All these printers are connected via USB hubs and Ethernet to a Mac OS X Server 10.4 which is the printer server.

I hope that gives you a better idea about what the Mac Lab is like and what it's like to work in the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft.

274 comments:

1 – 200 of 274   Newer›   Newest»
Corentin said...

Very nice indeed!!! Thanks a bunch for the tour :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to why many of your automated tests don't run faster on a G4 than on a G5. Is that because of the particular testing software used?

Anonymous said...

That is freakin' impressive! This lab is in Redmond, right? What does the CA team do? How long does it take to build Office with Xcode and now long did it take with CodeWarrior?

Isaac

Ariel said...

With all this facilities I would use a Mac without question!
Great post.

That Conservative Canadian University Student (!) said...

Oi! Don't recycle those old macs, ship them over to me :P

Looks awesome. I want your job.

Kiltak said...

"these tapes work just great, except when they don't."

They always fail when you need them most.. You guys should get a SAN and dump your backups on there.

Free Drinks? Man, that's a dream job :)

Kiltak
[Geeks Are Sexy] Tech. News

Anonymous said...

That seems like a productive lab also sounds like a fun company to work for. I'm a PC freak myself last time I used a MAC was in grade 4. I'd like to learn more about the systems to add to my PC certifications. Can you recommend a good training facility in Ontario Canada?

Network Administrator &
Web/Graphic Designer/Developer

Ben In Durham said...

Awesome post! So I have three questions...1) what is your electricity bill for all those Macs ;) 2) do you have any insider info on when MS going to release a universal binary for Office and 3) do you do have any Powerbooks, iBooks or Macbooks in the lab?

Tucker said...

That's incredible! Looks like a very fun place to work. Even if it is Microsoft.

Mike said...

Reall cool!

So what do you guys actually use to "drive" the automated tests of Microsoft office. Applescript? Or something home-grown?

Brian said...

Awe-some.
You lucky dawg
MacTechBri

Udayan Tripathi said...

Wow. I remember a story a while back about this being the one place where iPod usage isn't frowned upon at Redmond. Apparently Balmer says no iPod or Google to his kids.

theLingoKid said...

Incredible! I knew there were some MAC junkies over there... I bet Gates has an iPod, an a MAC mini...

Villain said...

all along i thought microsoft sucks to work for an apple fan.. but now i ready to reconsider my options...

Anonymous said...

excellent tour, thx man

Anonymous said...

Great tour ... thanks a lot

BlueFuse said...

I love this kinda stuff. It really helps when everything is unmasked for the public to see.

Andre Da Costa said...

How can I become a Office for Mac BETA Tester? I really would like test pre-release software, help you hunt some bugs and give you some feedback.

Thank you for this awesome tour.

Chris said...

That is one part of Microsoft I never really thought of. Thanks for showing us around!

Jon said...

Great post and thanks for sharing all of it with us. Is really great to see an MS employee being so happy around all those mac's! Looks like a friendly place to work to!

Kroc Camen said...

That place is heaven! A MacMini cluster is just about the coolest thing ever :P

Thanks so much for this great tour. I hope Microsoft support MacIntels officially for Vista as I'm currently running XP on my Macbook and it's very good. Sadly, it's a great shame that Windows Media Player was dropped. This is causing issues for intel mac owners. Could you not release just the codec on its own so that Mac users could continue to view WMV's via Quicktime/VLC.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this just totally made my day! What a cool place to work!! Thanks for the tour!

GCS ~ MACMomma said...

I hope to come visit that Lab, soon :)

RobertS said...

Thank you for a great tour of your "Playground/Workplace"!! You have a much better free drink selection than we do our my place. Need a Help Desk Manager? LOL :) Thanks again!!!

GCS - MACMomma said...

I hope I can visit your Lab soon :)

CG5Addict said...

That's awesome!!

peeweejd said...

Awesome! Thanks for posting this.

Allison Weiss said...

Great post, bro! In answer to Mike's question above, I believe my brother helped program the "home grown" solution that "drives" this operation. Oh yeah. Uh huh.

Damdam said...

Just one word : whoooo !

MatzeLoCal said...

Awesome... I'm so jealous :)

If, some day, MacBU has to give-a-way a 17" Studio Displays and a G4 PowerMacs, please recall me... :)

Anonymous said...

Where else have the Mac BU staff worked? Are most of them career 'softies or have many of them come to the MacBU from other companies? If so, where else did they work?

Thanks for the tour and thanks for Office.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mini tour.

Are most of the staff career 'softies or are many from other software houses? If so, where have they worked before the Mac BU?

Anonymous said...

thanx for the tour :)

Anonymous said...

Please tell us more about the software that drives the automated tests

Anonymous said...

Great tour, enjoyed it a lot.

Best greetings from a former Apple Europe Employee.

Anonymous said...

Can't you send me one of the Dual G5's??? I mean, obviously you've got way too much computers, and since you switched to mini's you don't need the G5's anymore ;)

...

check it out: http://nmverkade.googlepages.com

Tim said...

Thanks for the tour. You lucky boy.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! We users have no idea of how much work is done behind the curtains to make thigs like MS Office for Mac running. As a mac faithful I would like to thank you a lot for this trip.

David (São Paulo, Brazil)

Anonymous said...

That was GREAT. Many thanks for the tour!

Jenn Weiss said...

Wow Bro! You are amazing! Great tour! Great insight to just exactly what you do everyday!

Ed said...

Nice work David can I work there. ;p


Ed

Pete said...

Very cool,thanks for showing!!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic read. Thanks for the insight.

Douglas F Shearer said...

Awesome stuff. Automated testing is something I wondered about, especially on large pieces of software such as MS Office. Thanks for the tour.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Do they give tours? A Mac geek's paradise!!

airgun25 said...

WOW, this was very informitive you guys must have great fun playing with macs. I liked the way you explained every pic. so everyone understands what ther looking at. Great JOB!!!!!

airgun25 said...

WOW,
This was a great ture. I Have a better Idea what you do in the MacBu side of microsoft. Your test benches are awsome the mac mini array is unreal.
thanks Airgun25

hacker not cracker said...

Wow.... I'm drooling...

XWiz said...

Thanks for posting that; it was an enjoyable read.

Anonymous said...

?Due to lack of space in the Lab we had to put all of these older machines into storage and recycled the following:
[...]
Macintosh (original)"

Recycled? Those things are collector's items!

Anonymous said...

Yeah there are a few macs there.
I feel so small time working my butt off just to be able to afford a single imac.
Thanks for the tour

Jesse said...

Well the cat's out of the bag now David. ;)

Great post!

Mcruz said...

Nice pictures. Thanks for sharing them. Btw, you've been slashdotted!

dan (UK) said...

wow got the odd GHertz at your fingers, lucky lot :P Wouldn't mind popping over, if im ever in the US, or even on that side of the planet

Anonymous said...

I notice you don't have an Apple ][ integer machine like the one I have. For a year and a half, from August '77 til January '79 the only way to load or store data was an audio cassette tape. If you wanted to do decimal numbers you had to buy a floating point card.

Anonymous said...

That's a sweet job - almost as cool as beta testing OSX.
If Microsoft has that many Macs, i can only guess at how many Windows configurations they have :-/ oh well...

I <3 Macs
-Ian
1.42ghz PowerPC MacMini + 2.16ghz Intel Macbook Pro

Kirby Witmer said...

Wow!! That was an awesome tour!! Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tour, really nice to see it's such serious (yes) bussiness. Also clever PR from you guys to the Mac-people and users (like me)
Maarten Aerts, Netherlands

Anonymous said...

Dear David Weiss,

Will we ever see Microsoft Money for OS X? Please make it so! There is no worthy Personal Finance Manager (yet) for OS X and we really need one - one with a great UI and feature parity with the Windows version.

Thanks,

Zach

DrLex said...

That place looks like a heaven for Mac developers!

to Kroc Camen: a plug-in to play WMV in QuickTime already exists, and it's made in close cooperation with Microsoft, which is why they dropped the WM Player. Take a look at http://www.flip4mac.com/ It's free!

Catt said...

Thanks for the tour its nice to know that there are some mac lovers at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

You call that a mac lab? Pshaw! :)

Glassed Silver said...

awsum read, its like being in the room, because you give a lot of pics from all perspectives, and your comments are not n00by and tell what people wanna read.
thanks a lot dude, you saved me going there LOL joke, hope ill manage to see it in real some day :D
seeing mac-geeks working for microsoft (not that i ever doubted that they exist) gives ms a sympathic image ^^

-fm

yinyang said...

I think you could do with some PowerBooks/MBPs in your setup. as well as iPods :-)

Thanks for the tour though, very interesting!

John said...

What do you use to test word ?

autmate pushing all the buttons / keyboard combo's ?

because scripting via VBA would not be right would it ?

regards

John Jones

badspyro said...

any macs going spare?
any tours?
religus pilgrimages?
WORSHIP THE MACS!!!!
just makes me want one even more...
student in need of mac, will do almost anything! (lol)

Anonymous said...

David, What does the Mac BU think about the ability to now run Windows on Intel Macs with Boot Camp or Parallels - in regards to the argument that says this will allow developers to abondon native OS X development and just run a Windows app on OS X through virtualization, etc. I hope you don't see this as a valid speculation.. as I would like to see more and more OS X-native apps rather than virtualized apps. Any thoughts to share on that?

Bradley Farnsworth said...

And I thought the Mac testing lab at Sonnet was impressive. That is too cool!

Anonymous said...

I am not impressed at all!

Anonymous said...

Nice foosball table. Are you guys any good?

Anonymous said...

Awsome!

At home I have 4 Macs (and 2 PCs) and I was sure no one on Earth has more! Damn!!!

;) Keep the faith. Write a line or two about CodeWarrior transition... we need to know. Please!

Juan Pablo Chaclan said...

wow... looks great.. I've always wanted to have a mac computer. It looks like you have mac computers all around you. Thanks for the Tour.

Anonymous said...

Wanna lend me the Dual's for a weekend.. I have a few WU's that need crunching...

Mat Panchalingam said...

Very interesting tour of Mac BU @ MS. I've always wanted to read something like this since I first got my iBook a few years ago and bought my first copy of Office for it.

verinox said...

that electricity bill must be ridiculous, even with the minis

InklingBooks said...

Wonderful lab. Now when are you going to get to work on a lean, clean, and mean version of Vista that's for Mac hardware only and knows how to live friendly with OS X?

Robbie Watson said...

haha! I would give an arm and a leg to work with you guys...mac's everywhere, free cokes?! how does it get any better?

ps - i'll take any of you guys on in a game of foosball.

Robbie Watson

Justin Rebelo said...

Thanks a lot for this tour. I found it very interesting. It's rare that you read anything interesting on blogs anymore these days...

Anonymous said...

Thanks. that was awesome.

Troy Phillips said...

Great post.

I am also quite interested in the general results of the testing. For example, do any/most issues you find just effect a certain version/language of OS X, or the issues are common across the lots of versions etc? (ie is the "test under every version of OS X" strategy uncover many issues, or just a couple here and there?)

Have you considered using NetBoot instead of bringing the OS down onto the computer?

Does Apple give MS access to OS X releases any earlier than other ADC members (I would guess not?).

Have you had any cases where you have changed your testing methodology due to issues that _didn't_ get picked up?

PS: Since this has been shown on slashdot I am surprised (and glad) that the usual MS hating crowd hasn't left a few comments

Nate Whistler said...

Man, if you guys are every hiring let me know. I wish I could hangup my job as a system engineer doing mostly all pc networks. I am mac addict to the core. And I have to say, you have an awesome job. I am jealous.

nate.whistler@techscaler.com

Anonymous said...

I have wanted a mac for some time now and I love bugging the tech at school for information and he always pleeds ignorance. I am only 13 and I have grown up with microsoft. I got my first desktop at age 2. Right now I have a dell running xp pro and it just barly meats the memory requierments. If you are looking for a kid to do internship here's my e-mail. nicholas.tehrani@gmail.com. If anneybodey reading this wants a gmail address just ask I am giving away invites.

hammada said...

I cannot even conceive what working in the redmond lab would be like.

I'd be happy to just be an office assistant there!

Naru Narusegawa said...

Hi,

I'm a french user of your stuff, and really, it's better than the PC's soft ! ^-^

Thanks a lot, and continue to make so cool stuff ;)

Naru Narusegawa, french body, japanese mind ;).

Anonymous said...

thank you wery much for this post and fotos and your story! how to get a job in a mac.lab? for example in hardware technician position?

vova@tregub.ru

TheDarkTrumpet said...

I gotta say this is a very impressive setup of pictures. Thanks for the information and pictures about your lab. The one area of MS I respect really the most is the mac section of it - out of all the software released by MS, the mac software is by far the best in my opinion. Nice job testing, and please keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Is this really Microsoft? It's hard to believe you have all those macs! And, you're blogging with Google's blogger! Hell really has frozen over!

cheers to you!

stephenb said...

Very nice. Now can you ask somebody there to fix Entourage so it really works with Exchange?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

wow...i have almsot seen it all, but still i need to see apple's version of your mac testing lab i wonder what they would do...brushed metal!

Garrett said...

Heh. Need any more testers? :-)

adb said...

To do list:

Get Job at MacBU

Thanks for sharing :)

smallerdemon said...

Many, MANY thanks for this! It gives a reality eye's view of how much work it takes to provide Office for the Mac side.

Sauri said...

Woah, it's a geek Heaven! :).

Lou said...

Wow, great post! I'm really impressed with the MacBU, you guys make some pretty great software up there! Say, if some of you guys are up for a roadtrip/flight/whatever, it would be absolutely awesome to have a few of you guys come down to the Elk Grove Apple Campus (near Sacramento). I'm sure that we'd all love some insight as to what Microsoft is doing for it's Mac users. If you guys are interested, email me at tf5_bassist@yahoo.com (i'd put my Apple address, but I'd rather not get spam there haha). Thanks!

Lou

Cb said...

Awright! Thanks David!

Andrew Kao said...

Is the accutal coding done in this lab, or is it just for testing?

Piers Warmers said...

In your research/testing/development, with free drinks on call... have any crearly superior drinks surfaced?

:)

Anonymous said...

Have you guys ever tried Xgrid on all those systems? Specifically all those minis, wow, I bet you could do some monster number crunching with all that.
Major thanks to you for this post!
Does Bill ever go down there just for fun?

Nski000

Anonymous said...

GREAT JOB!!!! WE NEED THIS KIND OF STUFF TO BE SEEN. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK AND THANKS FOR THE WONDERFUL TOUR. IT REALLY IS AMAZING!!!

War Pengi said...

You know, the absolute best thing about this article is the way your enthusiasm and spirit beams right through. It's really great.

FWIW, Mac Office is a great product, and I like it better than Office 2003 on XP (which I get annoyed with every week.)

You do good work, and I'm glad you're enjoying it.

H said...

cool

unreal4u said...

wow !!! this is just amazing ...

inside those coolers, do u have beers ?? in case u have, i'll work inmediatly for microsoft :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I enjoyed the trip very, very much. I don't like Microsoft, but the guys from the Mac Bussiness Unit are just great! Working for Microsoft and loving Macs... that's just fantastic! :)

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
That's a sweet job - almost as cool as beta testing OSX.
"

I interned for MacBU in Summer 2001 and we were convinced that Apple had us doing just that. I remember submitting tickets for about as many OS X problems as I did for Word, XL, PPT and Erage (Entourage).

Good bunch of folks there.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see that also Microsoft inhabits some "real" computers.

Anonymous said...

Ok, beautifull place, very very nice indeed... but I bet that you also need to do some sort of reverse engineering...

Bart Bons said...

Great post. Thanx. I guess this is the best BU at Microsoft to work at. ...150 MacMini's... aaaahhhh lovely.

Thanks for sharing this. You obviously love your work...!

Anonymous said...

toppiejoppie!

Hessi said...

Hi, preety cool, I love the endless rows of the macminis. :)

But I found an issue in Word X for Mac:
A dokument with a picture, created on a PC with office 2k, replaced this picture on a Mac, will be print sharp and clear on the PC, but unsharp and poor on the Mac.

It's the same dokument, from the same network drive printed on the same network-printer with the same ink and paper (photo-settings)!

In a short sentence:
Create with PC
Change with Mac
Print with PC: sharp
Print with Mac: unsharp (low Resolution - even in preview)

Kind Regards
Michael

Anonymous said...

Its that a pic of BMXer's on the corkboard? (I have been riding since 1985 :) ) also: "Most of the tests we run don't run significantly faster on a dual G5 vs. a single G4." HELLO? -O3???
:)

jcw

axbynboxohj said...

great pictures!

axbynboxohj said...

great pictures!

Ms.Baker said...

Thank you very much for this highly interesting post, and enlightening us about your amazing and extremely interesting job. I hope you don't mind that I have linked to you and your post on our blog.

Thanks again.

Ms. Baker

Anonymous said...

that's damn cool !

Anonymous said...

Nice tour, makes me enjoy Microsoft...
Keep on the good work


A french mac and office user

Anonymous said...

Very nice!!! :-D

M.wells (UK) said...

A little harsh putting badly behaved macs in a dell rack!
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. SE30 was a beast but my Mac Mini running XP Pro is cool.

Uli Kusterer said...

Nice setup. Though I'm having trouble finding the iBooks in the pictures. Did you perhaps mean iMac? Because those are right in the front. Then again, I didn't see the two techs you mention working in the background, so maybe it's my eyes.

Thanks for sharing this with us!

Matz said...

very very very nice tour! thx!

David Emery said...

Well, the only time I was ever at Microsoft (for a Distance Learning standards group meeting), I was expecting a tour of the Halls of Darkness. Instead it was full of various flavors and colors of Apples, with lots of "think different" posters. Turns out our meeting was in a MacBU building (is there more than one?)

So I felt right at home with my PowerBook...

dave

Anonymous said...

I reckon you should turn those Mac Minis into a Mac pyramid. That would be way cool!

Anonymous said...

merci pour cette visite !!! cool

RIC said...

YOU NEED A TESTER FROM COLOMBIA?
SOULXXX@GMAIL.COM

FARfetched said...

Great tour! Office is probably the single largest Mac application (and definitely one of the largest), and it’s interesting to see what-all you have to do to make it work.

I’ll have to link this post on my blog. I like to tweak MS when they do silly things; it’s only fair to acknowledge it when y’all do something well.

buthidae said...

Awesome :-D

Karl said...

cool free drinks! i pay 1$ here in austria

Anonymous said...

nice stuff :)

heh :P i have free drink at my job too... and a Company cell phone with no usage restrictions! :D

goeshere said...

I'm writing this comment as I can't think what else to write.

Anonymous said...

You people at microsoft think you're so cool with your fee soda's. I work at an un-named tech company. We may not get free soda's, but we get them for a quarter, but the trade off is free beer each and every friday.

Jeremy said...

Can I buy a couple Mac Minis from you guys? I need a second hand PowerPC really bad and you might be able to get me one.

Let me know please! Thank you!

Jeremy

Anonymous said...

fisse

Viggenjakt said...

Hey dude ! awesome tour, uber ! Thanks a lot ! Viggenjakt

Anonymous said...

wow
when im older im gonna move to the US and get a job there.
that is cool

Anonymous said...

That's a pretty sweet lab! Thanks for the pics. We use the same philosphy at the company I work for, intercept the older Macs for large scale automation testing to burn in new apps, network gear and servers.

Now if you guys could release a true MS Outlook client for OS X that uses MAPI like the old OS 9 client, then I will be truely impressed.

Anonymous said...

That's a pretty sweet lab! Thanks for the pics. We use the same philosphy at the company I work for, intercept the older Macs for large scale automation testing to burn in new apps, network gear and servers.

Now if you guys could release a true MS Outlook client for OS X that uses MAPI like the old OS 9 client, then I will be truely impressed.

Austin said...

Sweet pictures! It's really interesting to see the MS process of making Mac software...

I think these pictures are going to make a lot of Mac zealots rethink their beliefs about Microsoft.

Thanks,

Austin Heller
http://skyhawkrider.blogspot.com

Vernon said...

I am completely blown away, Dave. Thanks for the post. Brill!

Lasantha said...

Thats awesome!!!
I love to see a bunch of G4s and G5s... boy those are good machines.

Anyway thanks for all your photos. I am wondering why did they allow you to publish those images.

Lasantha Kularatne
lasantha.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

That's great. But I can't believe you never had a IICX? I'm in an office with one running a good part of the business behind me right now.

The expressions people get when they see it sitting there with a old single page monitor on top of it is priceless.

Great tour!

Anonymous said...

Even though David will never get this far in the comments, great virtual tour! Thank you.

Håkan Palm said...

Thanks for this post! It really made my day! :)

Very very nice pictures of endless rows of PowerMacs, Mac Minis and iMacs. :) Wonderful, wonderful!

/HP

Limited Ed. said...

What is the average life-span of that hardware and what happens to it when you are done with it? Does it get refurbished and resold? Does it get donated to low-income families or schools? Do you ever donate it to some unfortunate soul who is still running a 500Mhz G3 iBook with 256MB of RAM? Or is it so burnt-out by the time y'all are done with it that you just have to discard it?

Anonymous said...

I am so jealous of your jobs. Any open positions? If not, can i just dust around, mop the floor, massage all your aching shoulders, sharpen pencils, keep the fridges company, fan you all, doorman?

barley said...

It looks like a dream come true to me. Maybe I'll finish college.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm guessing you didn't keep the boxes? Seriously though, thanks for peek behind closed doors. I do have two questions. How large is the Mac Business Unit in terms of floor space and how many are employed by the unit? I'm trying to get an idea of scale relative to Microsoft as a whole.

polozero said...

It's the first time that I want to work with microsoft

Michelle Klein-Hass said...

Sweet.

Very sweet.

I have always had the image in my mind of Bill Gates having a Mac on his desk, because he appreciates the elegance of the Mac experience.

What I'm interested in is the progress of Virtual PC for MacIntel. I don't want to reboot my Mac and have it taken over with XP. I want my Windows-on-MacIntel experience in virtualization, with Windows securely sandboxed away from any possible corruption of Mac OS X. Parallels for X is almost ready, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Win 4 Lin folks are looking at doing a similar product for Mac OS X. And there's always the 100% F/OSS QEMU project.

MacBU had better get cracking on Virtual PC or their lunch will be eaten by a small competitor.

Arno said...

wow thats amazing, would love a play on these machines..

Lyne said...

Thanks for giving everyone a brief glimpse in to our exciting life with the automation system and the lab David. Great post!!!

john ahern said...

that has to be one of the most beautiful things i've seen EVER

thank you so so so much

Anonymous said...

i'm pretty sure that this lab is not in redmond. the mac business unit is off of 101 in the bay area (ca). i interviewed there a few years back.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing, enjoyed reading it all and looking at someone else's work place.

Sleepy said...

Awesome post.

I used to have a Centris 610 too!!!

Geoffrey said...

And I understand when His Arrogant Ippisismuss (aka Steve 'Oh One More Thing' Jobs) decided to shut down the ATG, most of the guys ended up at MacBU.

Gee, what a shame.

Oh, btw:

> theLingoKid said...
> Incredible! I knew there were some MAC junkies over there...

Umm, it's 'Mac'. Short for 'Macintosh'. An MAC is a Media Access Controller, and you'll find one of those embedded in anything with an ethernet socket :)

(Yes, we're fussy about such things)

Anonymous said...

THank you very much, that was really interesting to see, I have never seen anything like it.

Anonymous said...

This is the best PR that MS has ever done! Many thanks. It's good to see that MS *is* really serious about Macs. Now one wonders, if they do this for Macs - what on earth do they do for PCs!!! Great tour.

Mr. Dew said...

That's a really nice collection! Thanks for showing off the side of Microsoft few would realize exists.

Hasan said...

MBU looks really cool. Thanks for the insight.

wondering what does PCBU of apple looks like. think they torture and insult those PCs every step... kiddin

bhaskar said...

Nice Post! Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This is not the first time the MacBU lab has been on the web, check out this link: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/158677_msftmac30.html

as (PL) said...

I knew always that some people in Microsoft knows what is good :)

Anonymous said...

Free drinks?
It's very good :)
PS. I'm from Poland

Nadyne Mielke said...

For those of you who have been asking about open positions, we do have several open positions right now. Go to Microsoft Careers (http://www.microsoft.com/careers/), search for a job, and select 'Mac Office' from the products list.

For those of you who have been suggesting features for our existing products or ports of other Microsoft applications, you can send us feedback through Mactopia (http://www.microsoft.com/mac/default.aspx?pid=feedback).

For the guy who said that MacBU isn't in Redmond, that's not true. We're split between Redmond and Mountain View, California. The rest of us are enjoying the sun down in the Bay Area. :)

Chris said...

Wow. Just Wow.

I am in love with the Microsoft Mac BU. I want a job there now for the first time EVER. I thought Microsoft was mostly windows, and the MBU was just a small part on the side. Do you have any internships for high school students? I would love the experience.

-Chris
chwebb1 [AT] gmail [DOT] com

Anonymous said...

i hate MAcs but it was an awesome tour. Thanks for showing me how the evil enemy snuck inside Microsoft. But I suppose it is useful to see what the enemy is up to. At least u r making some money off of them. At least you get free drinks, awesome!

Anonymous said...

Bill Gates stroked a check years ago for $150 million to keep Apple afloat during some lean years. He stated that MS was the largest producer of software for the Mac. I wonder if it's still true.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed... I have always appreciated the MACBU. It is fun to put a visual for MACBU... I knew it should be a very fun place to be.
We should grab a drink sometime...
Cheers!

MacDaddy.

Mitchell Scott said...

That stuff is hot.

Anonymous said...

I WANT YOUR JOB!

James said...

That's the first time I've even remotely considered applying to work for Microsoft. (says the guy posting from an Ubuntu laptop)

Seriously, that's a pretty neat setup. If that's just the Macs, what's it like over on the windoze side?

Anonymous said...

This just makes me respect microsoft a lot, and I typically spite microsoft.

That has to be the biggest mac museum next to Apple itself.

Peter Kjeldsen said...

Very nice thank you for the tour... Keep up the good work guys :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this great article. I have a whole new respect for your team and what you do. There is so much testing to do just for the Mac. Does Microsoft have a stadium where they keep the PC's they use to test the Windows OS?

ezra limm said...

the mini cluster is uber l33t kewl.


Ode to ya weiss.. Loved the tour. The nerd in me bows down in respect.


-a loyal iBook user.

dustin said...

Awesome post.

JeriC said...

Very cool :) I only have an Mac LC ('92) and a broken PowerBook (98).. so.. it might be a very very cool job... hmm how to get such a job?

Amarao said...

Thanks for the time to write that up. Linked from Engadget.

Appreciate the tour.

Tim said...

Wow, thanks for the tour! I've always appreciated the software that the MacBU has released and now I see why!

The Guy Without a Mac said...

Ohh damn! I've never seen so many macs together, it must be heaven in there...

BTW, does MS seels the computers? or just trow them in the garbage bin?

I'm desperate for a mac, if you dont believe me, check my blog...

jo said...

awesome ! :)

check my photoblog out :
photoblog.dectus.com

Anonymous said...

wauw
that indeed is very impressive
nice enviroment to work in
COOL!

Anonymous said...

Keep on the nice work!
Thanks a lot for ur time


/draken

Sabarish said...

awesome stuff! Great post!

Thanks!

Ashley said...

Many Thanks for giving us this insight to testing at Microsoft. It was of special interest to me as I am about to start a 14month intership at your Dublin site in July, to do testing ...

Thanks once again ;)

Will Cate said...

Super cool... I love MS Office for Mac OS X; in fact I've convinced several folks to switch to Mac over the years after showing them how well Office/Mac works.

Nice to learn about all the hard work that goes into it. Thanks --

Will Cate
Nashville, TN

Ed Martinez said...

Very nice,
How I wish I could have just one of your older machines, if you don't need it of course :)
Thanks for the tour.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh i would love to work there !!

sliderPL said...

Hi! Nice tour :) but i have 1 question : How much current all that stuff "eat" ? :)

Anonymous said...

thank you!

Anonymous said...

Free drinks!!

At my school (I am 14 years old) we must pay €0,60 for 1 Liter Coca Cola...

Very cool place to work at! I didin't now that Microsoft had so much Macs :p

Thanks for the awesome tour!

Greetz,

Lucas (The Netherlands)

PS Sorry for my bad English...

v7ndotcom elursrebmem said...

Cool. That was a surprise for med. Nice pictures...

XplodingForce said...

w0w, wat a nice pictures!

I wanted that i had this at home ;).

Is this setup running 24/7 or do they have sometimes a little bit rest?

Otherwise you maybe had time to run for fun a distributed-computing project, that score has to be extremely high!

Congratz with your amazing setup, and that you may play with it...

Randy said...

Yes, nice post indeed !
Hardware (+Drinks) Paradise!

tony meman said...

wow that was great....... umm yeah.

Anonymous said...

:D
"rotates like butter!

I love that one!

:D

laurelpaley said...

Wow!
Does Bill Gates come and play late at night over there? [Maybe THAT's why Vista looks soooooo much like OSX....]

Ahhhhhh, but I digress. Thanks so very much for sharing all of this. VERY inspiring, lots of fun to contemplate (and be jealous of), and oddly CUTE. It sure took me back, seeing the lists of "retired Macs" (made me miss my original dual floppy Mac SE with no internal HD). And it has me appreciate all the Mac Gurus (some visible, some invisible) who make things possible for users like me!

Thanks!!!!!

Laurel Paley
{digital} artist and art instructor
Los Angeles

Green Banana said...

I am in awe :) What a fabulous place to work! You have some very jealous mac lovers watching!

Keep up the great work mate!

Anonymous said...

Great job indeed! But what with the Mac plus (probably the most famous of all Mac's!) and the "Pizza box"-Quadra 611?

Anson Ringenoldus said...

Wow, seems like a cool place to work.
I'm an Apple freak since 1980 (started with an Apple ][+) and switched to Mac in 1990.
At the moment I have an iBook G4, mac mini (G4) and a old dual G4 (AGP).
At the moment I don't use any MS software (don't have the money to pay for Office).
For most things Appleworks 6.0 is enough.
I used to work for PcM.
That's a large Dutch newspaperpublisher (Volkskrant, Trouw, NRC, AD, etc.).
They have around 335 mac's which they use for layout.
At the moment they are upgrading from G3's and G4's to G5's.
All with MacOS X.
Sadly, my contract expired and I had to leave for another job.

DrewMerkle said...

Your recount is a reminder to all that backup tapes must be read back on a regular basis and verified before a disaster occurs. And once your original is gone your backup becomes your new original. Back it up! Another great format is VXA, btw.

Please, please, tell us that when you write "recycled" you really mean someone took the antiques home or gave them to a collector or a museum. Even to those who are not the biggest fans of Microsoft this stuff is true history. Sadly, those close to it don't always understand it as such. An "original" Mac (whether it be a 128K Mac or a Mac XL) once owned by Microsoft would be very valuable indeed. The birth of Excel 1.0, not to mention its predecessor, Microsoft's first GUI spreadsheet known as Multiplan, quite a significant milestone in human history if only because of the number of lives eventually touched. Oh, please, please say those antiques didn't actually get recycled... That would be really bad Karma. Could have even auctioned them off for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. There must be a lot of readers out there just shuddering to think of the tragic waste.

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