Microsoft hosted its student technology and innovation competition, ‘Imagine Cup’, where 49 students teams along with journalists from 33 countries flocked to Microsoft's Redmond campus.
This was my first time on the tech giant’s sprawling headquarters. The land where the latest windows, surface line products and Xbox are put together.
If you ever visit this campus in Redmond, which is a few miles east on Seattle, all you can see is Building 92, which houses the official visitor center and a store.
Since I had exclusive press access for a couple of days, I decided to go behind the curtains and beyond the lobby to get you an inside visual tour of where it all began.
Lake Bill And The Original Campus
While Microsoft was founded in 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the company moved to Bellevue, Washington in 1978 and to the present campus in 1986.
The original campus housed four buildings that were X-shaped to allow for more windows because Bill Gates wanted his engineers to have private offices, where they could enjoy sheltering privacy to do their coding.
Right in the middle of these building you will find Lake Bill, named after the founder of course, who wanted to stay as close to nature as possible.
Some say that back in the day, this was the spot where the team would celebrate new software releases. How cool is that!
The Tree House
My nature walk continued as I stumbled upon a bunch of tree houses that Microsoft built for its employees recently.
Made of charred wood walls with concrete on one side and a forest (well almost) on the other, these tree houses feature meeting rooms and open workspaces.
When I needed break from all the walking, I knew I had to head to the West Campus and take a quick break at The Commons.
Open for all employees and their families, the place is always buzzing with people (and lot of kids).
Apart from restaurants, the commons packs in a post office, tech link, dry cleaning and hair salon.
Basically, this is a mini city inside the campus so that employees never felt the need to leave. A not-so-common strategy?
Interns Behold: The Mystery Of Building 7
While at the Commons, I met up with Steve Clayton, chief storyteller and general manager of artificial intelligence and culture communications at Microsoft, who let me in on the folklore of Building 7 that is conspicuously absent from the original campus.
Even though this was a part of the blueprint, the booming employee population mandated the construction of much bigger buildings. So, Building 7 was scrapped and Building 8 was built instead.
Years later, they actually built a Building where 7 was supposed to go, but the employees did not want to name it 7 and it named 37 instead.
If you are an intern joining Microsoft, don’t waste your hunting for Building 7
While on my tour I learned that Microsoft is planning a massive overhaul and will start a multi-year project by end of this year.
The updated campus will allow 8,000 more people to join the Microsoft campus by 2022.