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A Tour of Microsoft's Mac Lab 177

Posted by Zonk
from the so-many-shiny-boxes dept.
I'm Don Giovanni writes "David Weiss of Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) gives a virtual tour of Microsoft's Mac Lab at Redmond, reportedly one of the largest Mac labs outside of Apple (includes 150 Mac minis!)." Great pictures. From the article: "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."
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A Tour of Microsoft's Mac Lab

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  • ...as if millions of slashdotters applied for testing jobs at Microsoft and then were suddenly silenced.
    • First thing they should do is hire someone who knows cable management. Jeezus.

      Otherwise, cool pics.

    • Been there, done that. What happens is you have five recruiters representing Microsoft saying that you're qualified for the hottest openings that they have, and then they string you along for two months until it becomes obvious that the position has already been filled by an internal candidate. Meanwhile, your unemployment benefits run out. They don't call it the Evil Empire for nothing.
      • Two months is "stringing along"? Only two months is OUTSTANDING!

        Hell, the jobs I actually landed took longer than that. The ones that have nothing try to keep you in the hopper for several times that ammount before letting it slip that the position has been filled!

        If you let your unemployment benefits run out while waiting to hear back from only one company, you are not being very serious about your job search.
        • I was talking to 20 recruiters and had a few interviews during that time. Only the Microsoft recruiters sounded dead serious that something would happen. Fortunately, I picked up what was supposed to be a two-week contract from another outfit that I'd previously worked for. That contract was cancelled after the first day and they gave me my current contract with a $4/hr raise where I been working for the last eight months.
  • by tdvaughan (582870) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @06:40PM (#15169142) Homepage
    It looks like the Mac Business Unit alone is responsible for at least 1% out of Apple's 5% market share!
    • by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @06:46PM (#15169179) Homepage Journal
      for at least 1% out of Apple's 5% market share!

      Does that mean they're responsible for 0.05% of the market share?
    • My summer interning at MacBU (2001) is what turned me from a mere admirer of Macs into someone who absolutely, positively HAD to own one. When I was there, MacBU was full of people who perhaps came in as non-Mac fans, but had certainly grown attached.

      When the first "new" iBook came in for testing, there were more arguments over who got to play with it first than there were over who got to use the "sweet, sweet" Cinema Screen.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @06:41PM (#15169146)
    Where do you think the Vista user interface design team has been spending all it's time?
  • by the_humeister (922869) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @06:45PM (#15169172)
    Now that iTunes and other apps run in Windows, does Apple have a Windows lab?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2006 @06:45PM (#15169174)
    Between this and the story we heard yesterday from the ex-Unix Microsoft programmer, do you get the feeling that some sort of viral/undercover "come work at Microsoft" marketing is going on?
  • by justinarthur (564449) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @06:53PM (#15169226) Homepage
    This is very interesting to see since the last guy in the news to blog about Microsoft's Macs got fired for it [slashdot.org]. Perhaps this is the rebound from the bad press they recieved over that incident?
  • Microsoft Advocacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrNonchalant (767683) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @06:55PM (#15169231)
    This seems like it's part of a broader wave of MS advocacy and transparency that has unfolded over the past year or so. Although I still don't like Microsoft terribly much, these glimpses inside have given me some pause. The employees and culture seem actually decent enough.
  • Door label (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wm_K (761378) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @06:57PM (#15169237)
    Off the record but I've heard that the label on the Mac lab door actually reads "the copy room"
  • Bug Testing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xwizbt (513040)
    I love the comment:

    "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
    • They can't fix EVERY bug in the product, man.
    • by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @07:36PM (#15169440)
      The answer is in that quote:

      The testers investigate the failures, log any bugs and then move on to their other duties as testers.

      It doesn't say anyone actaully fixes the bugs they log, does it?
  • by Orrin Bloquy (898571) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @07:04PM (#15169275) Journal
    An entire room filled with bright, cheerful Microserfs wearing shirt padding and plastic bald caps greet me as I enter the Fucking Kill You Lab in Redmond's well-lit East Campus. Before I can say a word, chairs fly across the room in all directions as each vows to Fucking Kill (TM) Google, Apple, Sun, Linus Torvalds, and inexplicably, Olestra.

    Fucking Kill You Lab director Thaul Purrott tells me that this is "the future of Windows innovation" and not surprisingly, customer support just as an airborne chair caster nearly decapitates him.
  • by djocyko (214429) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @07:07PM (#15169289)
    But no Coke Zero? Lame.
  • Linux Lab (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @07:52PM (#15169542) Homepage Journal
    Here's a tour of Microsoft's Linux Lab:






    Cool, huh?
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @08:02PM (#15169588) Homepage Journal
    A Microsoft employee is reporting on Mac use from a site owned by Google? Hang on, I think I see a pig passing by my 4th story window...

    Why is his blog not on an MSN domain or something like that?
    • Have you ever met someone that worked at a restaurant and didn't eat every meal there? I sure haven't.
    • Not sure if you were kidding or not, but there are very legit reasons not to.

      First and foremost, if it is on an MS hosted domain, the general public perceives it as "official," whether this is the case or not. Then if this guy makes any errors or says anything outside of the company line, he is in a world of shit. It also makes sense if he also uses this same blog for his "Janie took her first poopie today!" type posts.

      Second of all, employees are reasonable. I work at a very large bank. I do not keep my mo
      • This bank is one of the largest in the world, but on the offchance it burns Enron-style, I want to know that my money is safe somewhere else and I am not completely wiped out of my job, my 401k, and my savings.



        Your bank isn't FDIC insured? or you just have more than $100,000 sitting in your account?
        • The FDIC, is part of the federal beauracracy, and while I have yet to see firsthand the FDIC go into action, I have heard it is quite a slow process, and takes weeks-months to get your money. As of right now my savings has not passed the 100k threshold, but I am saving for a house, so hopefully it will, and that would also present a problem, though one easily solved by just opening another account.

          When it comes down to it, I would rather not take the risk of having my 401k, my savings and my job all lost in
  • PR crap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by metamatic (202216) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @08:42PM (#15169772) Homepage Journal
    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.

    Yeah, right. The Windows media group have given up on Windows Media Player for the Mac [connectedhomemag.com], so what are they testing?

    And since when does the Microsoft games group develop anything for the Mac? Halo was ported by Westlake Interactive and MacSoft [the-junkyard.net], and they dropped the Mac port of Flight Simulator decades ago. So what games are actually written at Microsoft for the Mac?

    Drivers? They licensed the code for their Mac mouse drivers from Alessandro Montalcini. Maybe they do a little testing now and again, but most of it is just USB HID anyway. Do Microsoft make any other hardware for the Mac?

    Internet Explorer? Oh, sorry, they dropped that too.

    The whole thing smells like PR crap designed to make Microsoft look like a major developer of Mac software, when in truth all they really work on these days is Office.

    • Don't knock it. Office is the only decent thing that Microsoft makes!
    • Re:PR crap (Score:4, Informative)

      by ThousandStars (556222) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @11:05PM (#15170400) Homepage
      major developer of Mac software, when in truth all they really work on these days is Office.

      Office alone makes Microsoft a major developer of Mac software. The two most important ISVs for Apple are Microsoft and Adobe. One argue which one is more important -- I see the views of both sides, though I think Adobe is more important because recreating Office would be easier than CS 2 -- but they're both essential to maintaining the vitality of the Mac platform.

  • Windows Media group (Score:2, Interesting)

    by theid0 (813603)
    I'd be interested to know why the Windows Media group is in the Mac lab. They did such a poor job on their Mac port that they are now directing people to 3rd party software.
    • I'd be interested to know why the Windows Media group is in the Mac lab. They did such a poor job on their Mac port that they are now directing people to 3rd party software.

      I think it has something to do with money.

      What Microsoft does not want is application parity between platforms. However, they want to become a media gatekeeper the way they are a software application gatekeeper though (or may be "land lord" is a better term). The way to split the Solomonic baby is to provide a better experience to thei
  • It's actually very useful because everyone can be in front of a computer and still see the main screen and follow along.

    He continued, "and it hardly costs a thing compared our other labs. It takes one fifth the man hours to keep up and the hardware works for year and years due to it's modularity and minimalism," but the PR department cut that out.

  • From the article:
    Just like everywhere at Microsoft, we get all-you-can-drink beverages.

    Does that include beer?

    Gotta have that buzz when you're developing!

  • Censored! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sakusha (441986) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @10:12PM (#15170150)
    I posted a relatively innocuous comment to that story earlier today, it was censored and did not appear. It read, in its entirety, "There is one thing conspicuously absent from the pictures: people."
    I must have hit a nerve. Sure the story was about the lab. But don't people use the lab? There are a couple of people who appear way in the background of one pic, so small you can hardly see them, but otherwise the pictures are totally devoid of human life. I am sure the set of photos required clearance from Microsoft management, did they object to publishing photos of their personnel as some sort of security risk? Microsoft has been conspicuously touchy about bloggers describing their Mac facilities, remember the blogger who got fired from his temp job for posting a pic of G5s on the MSFT loading dock? So it wouldn't surprise me if the absence of people in the photos was a deliberate choice by MS management. And that is a lot more intriguing than the pics of a bunch of server racks.
  • ... why Vista is late!

    "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."
  • Who could have guessed that Microsoft has so many Macs in its Mac lab? But then again, I think there was a story here on /. sometime ago about Microsoft having a Linux lab, too. And something more recently about how Microsoft is going to support Linux in some situation or other.

    But on the other hand, I should have guessed, since they do make Mac software, that there should be a bunch of Macs of all models to test the software.

    So that begs this question: Apple builds all the Macs. This means that there are b

  • With Microsoft having the largest Mac and Linux labs, no wonder they forgot they've a Windows release to finish.
  • Hey! That's building 115! I just started working in there a few weeks ago :-) The building also houses the Managed Solutions teams.

  • All that work, and Microsoft Office: Mac with network homes still sucks shit. I could also complain about the Office Installer that is a "drag" installer, but then on first use it just runs a script to install crap everywhere. Yeah, that doesn't count--for it to be real drag installer, it has to be a drag uninstaller, too.

    I would be willing to give MS a pass on network homes, as maybe it's a little exotic; but it's not that bad of an idea, and no other application seems to be as confused by it as Offic

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