June 2012

More Microsoft Stores opening nationwide. Not long before Boston’s Turn!

Imagine a panoramic TV screen wrapped around all the walls surrounding you right now.  Can you image playing Xbox on that giant screen?  You wouldn’t have to image it if you were standing inside a Microsoft Store.  In fact, the newest location just opened yesterday in Overland Park, Kansas.  The grand opening was celebrated with a live DJ, Xbox giveaways and tons of Microsoft Swag.  If only Dorothy and Toto could be there… but they aren’t in Kansas anymore.

The Store

Over here at the NERD Center we’re following all these store openings and anxiously awaiting our turn.  Last week the Danbury, Connecticut Store had a little pop rock band called Of A Revolution (aka O.A.R.) at the grand opening party. Ya, no big deal.  In August the Microsoft Store comes to The Shops at Prudential Center. The exact date has yet to be confirmed, but it’s in August, and with the speed time flies, that’s like tomorrow.

Trusted Words from YELP



So what can we expect in the Microsoft Store?  I took to YELP to find out.  The abundance of red stars and short novels following a Microsoft store search was overwhelming.  We all know that you only use YELP when you had a reallllly good or reallllly bad experience.  So the hundreds of positive reviews indicate to me that Microsoft Stores are nothing less than AWESOME!

Luckily for people that like awesome things, Microsoft stores are popping up everywhere! There are already 20 stores with 7 more coming soon.  And guess what?  Boston isn’t the only Northeast location on the list. Soon there will be one in Salem, New Hampshire at The Mall at Rockingham Park.  YAY! Live free or die! Maybe I’ll go up there for my inevitable shopping spree.  A girl can never have too many computers and Xboxs right? Oh wait, no I’m confusing that with Windows phones. I can only play 1 Xbox at a time- but texting, emailing & talking- that number is infinity!

CALLING ALL NERDS! Microsoft New England Research and Development is Hiring

NERD Employee Town Hall Meeting with Microsoft President and CEO Steve Ballmer

With all this talk about the recovering economy and shrinking unemployment, why are people accepting salary cuts and taking jobs that make them miserable?!  This all seems so unnecessary, especially when places like Microsoft NERD are hiring.

Hiring is an understatement. Microsoft NERD has dozens of open jobs right now in Cambridge.  In a few minutes, that might be hundreds of jobs. Okay, wait, maybe not that many, but we’re growing fast.  You get the point.

So, why join Microsoft NERD?  Well, for one, everyone is wicked smart.  You learn new things from your colleagues; your manager learns new things from you, and so forth – it’s a never ending circle of knowledge sharing.

You can eat lunch here.

When you walk around the halls of NERD, you’ll notice open work spaces, white boards everywhere and a relaxed vibe. The teams that live here contribute to a variety of Microsoft products that companies, governments and families depend on around the world.  Maybe you’ve heard of Office 365?  Or Lync? How about SharePoint? That’s just some of the production happening at NERD.  You’re impressed? I don’t blame you.

Working at NERD is the best of both worlds. On the one hand, there’s a real start-up feel, with a lot of small groups doing their own thing and getting high quality software out the door on their own terms. But on the other hand, you have all of the benefits that go along with working for a global software powerhouse – tons of smart people, cool technology, and the opportunity to impact millions with your work” said Ben Fersenheim, a Development Lead of the Application Virtualization Team.

Who wouldn’t love a workplace in the heart of Kendall Square with free parking, postcard views and zero cubicles?  The contemporary furniture and distinctive décor throughout the building makes everyone feel like a VIP.  Not to mention pool tables, ping pong and Xboxes on hand for brain breaks. It’s like a start-up without the cash flow problems.

You can have meetings here.

You can have meetings here.

As a representative of Microsoft, you might suspect I’m biased on the topic.  Well, I am.  But others on the outside share this warm fuzzy feeling. Just a few weeks ago, Boston Business Journal named us the second best large company to work for in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Why aren’t we #1 you ask?  Well, that’s simple – we’re missing your contributions!  So, if you’re passionate about technology, intuitive and team oriented, then we want to hear from you!

Microsoft Foundry Brings Student Developers & Designers Together to Build Windows 8 Apps

At most companies, you’ll hear the summer interns talking about cool apps they’ve discovered and downloaded. They tell their intern friends about the features, the shortcomings and initiate discussions around “I wish it would….”

At NERD you’ll also hear plenty of app conversation among the summer interns; however, instead of “I wish it would” the considerations are “Why don’t we?”

That’s right. These apps aren’t available for download yet, because they are being developed as you read this post by NERD’s summer intern students of The Foundry.

Last week NERD welcomed about 20 summer interns to conceive and develop Windows 8 apps. The Foundry, a 12-week summer internship, is the first-of-its-kind for Microsoft. Teams across Microsoft came together to recruit students, attract coaches, develop a schedule and establish work space for the students. “The Foundry is a unique opportunity for us to use our amazing location and our awesome employees to attract local students to Microsoft and our platforms,” says NERD Site Director Sara Spalding.

The first week was information overload, but the students were tremendously grateful. “They are really taking this program seriously,” says Cory Monroe, another MIT Senior. “We had presentations from Windows 8 architects, Microsoft employees who have been here forever, tech start-up evangelists, program managers, agile developers and probably more I am forgetting. We’ve already learned so much, and we haven’t even officially started coding yet.”


The students are split into teams of three or four, each equipped with two volunteer Microsoft coaches. The coaches hold a variety of technical positions from teams across Microsoft. “Working with a brilliant group of students and seeing how Windows 8 lights up their creativity is just amazing. That is what excites me the most about being a coach,” says Alvin Chardon, a Senior Software Development Engineer Test on the Application Virtualization (App-V) team.

“Getting a critical mass of Windows 8 apps is crucial for making the platform take off. The Foundry program is a great way to help solve that problem. With our location in Cambridge, we have unique access to an awesome pool of college interns who are ready, willing, and able to build exactly what the Windows 8 platform needs” says Eric Jewart, Principal Development Lead on the App-V team.

“I also find it to be a great opportunity to share some lessons learned over many years of software development with a new generation of programmers, so they can start their careers ahead of where I started mine. This transfer of knowledge is part of how the industry and the art of software development advance so rapidly,” adds Eric.

Scavenger Hunt

In addition to learning, the students are bonding and having fun. They participated in a Watson’s Scavenger Hunt across Harvard Square last week, and they venture out into Kendall Square for lunch daily. Bonding is an ongoing activity as the students are occupying one big open space. They have individual desks, but share a killer view of the Charles River and Boston skyline.

Microsoft is partnering with ICS Consulting to spearhead the initiative. Project Manager David Jacobs is onsite daily to make sure things run smoothly, and everybody completes an app by the end of the summer. The recovering engineer and Massachusetts native is thrilled by the level of excitement. “We need to make sure the students are scoping functionality in the appropriate time frame. With all this enthusiasm, students want to include features that might not be necessary or realistic given the short period.”

David is joined by ICS colleagues Walter Houseman, Mark Antonelli and Benoit Catherinet. All four ICS consultants are a great fit for this mission because they have technical and project management experience. Not to mention some of them have developed Windows apps before. They are following a agile development process. The schedule is divided into one-week sprints, where teams must deliver a demo at the end of each sprint. This requires the students to start simple and add functionality as they go along, further supporting the objective that each team will have an app completed by the Foundry’s end.

Today marks the conclusion of the first sprint. I was fortunate to observe the presentations and I am amazed at what these students have accomplished in just two weeks. I cannot wait to see what happens next – stay tuned and I’ll share it with you too!


Participate & Stream as TechEd North America Continues in Orlando

Today marks day three of Microsoft’s TechEd North America 2012 where thousands of developers, programmers, and techie enthusiasts have flocked to sunny Orlando, Florida.

Yesterday’s keynote was delivered by Antoine Leblond, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Windows Web Services.  Antoine announced several updates to Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (known as MDOP in the techie community), along with details about the value Windows 8 will bring to businesses.

MDOP is near and dear to our hearts at Microsoft in Cambridge because a key piece of MDOP –  Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) – is developed
right here at NERD.  App-V transforms applications into centrally managed services that are never installed and don’t conflict with other applications. Want to join the team?  Check out the local jobs here.


Yesterday’s lunch address focused on Women in Technology, addressing issues about promoting, retaining and supporting women IT professionals and how they impact our industry. The discussion was vibrant and well received; something very important, yet slightly uncomfortable for an extremely male dominated audience.

Day two was capped off with a celebration at B.B.King’s Orlando, where TechEd guests enjoyed live music, comfort food and sophisticated conversation.
Today holds another impressive lineup for physical and virtual attendees.  Also on the agenda are hands-on labs, TechExpo, workshops and track session.  Everything is being streamed online here, don’t miss out!

Follow Microsoft TechEd North America Happening This Week in Orlando

Today Microsoft kicked off the 20th annual TechEd North America in Orlando, Florida.  The Sunshine state welcomes  industry experts from around the world to learn, engage and play.  TechEd, Microsoft’s premier technology conference for IT professionals and developers, kicked off today with a keynote from Satya Nadella, President of Service and Tools Business.  Nadella demonstrated how IT pros and developers can use Microsoft server and cloud technologies to transform their datacenters, modernize their apps and gain insight from data of all types, shapes and sizes. He also announced updates to Microsoft’s developer tools and availability of the next Windows Intune release.

“When you come to TechEd, there’s so much awesomeness, it’s a little overwhelming, but in a ‘I’m leaving with tons of new ideas’ kind of way.” Says Jeremy Moskowitz, Chief Propeller-Head of Gpanswer.com.
It certainly is awesome!  Just look at the twitter feed, Facebook page and official blog to see how much enthusiasm and participation the conference is generating. In addition to the standard conference key notes, expo and breakout sessions, TechEd offers hands-on learning where you can discover new products from the people that developed them.

“At TechEd you learn about cutting edge technologies and best practices directly from the Microsoft product teams that will give you an edge in your job” commented Mark Russinovich, a Technical Fellow at Microsoft.

If you are developing, deploying, managing, securing or mobilizing Microsoft solutions, TechEd has a track for you. This year’s conference, focused on cloud innovation and developers, provides the opportunity for attendees to focus on key technology and business issues that will help solve today’s real-world IT challenges and prepare for tomorrow’s innovations.

As TechEd takes place in Orlando this week, here in Cambridge we’re enjoying the content online. Learn about new products, join the discussion and enjoy live streaming of keynotes and more! One thing unfortunately you can’t participate in remotely is the closing party.  This year Microsoft is hosting one of the biggest parties it has ever thrown. The closure of TechEd 2012 will be celebrated at (drum roll please) Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Attendees will enjoy unlimited rides on attractions like The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, Jurassic Park River Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Microsoft rented out the entire park (whoa!)- so you can imagine people will be talking about this closing party until it’s inevitably topped at TechEd 2013.

Microsoft Lands #2 on Boston Business Journal’s Best Places to Work 2012

It’s no secret that 9 out of 10 working professionals list Friday afternoon as their favorite  part of the week and Monday morning as their least. The dreaded double M signifies a real-life horror movie of fighting traffic and hours of cubical boredom.  That remaining 1 out of 10 feels the reverse- they dread Friday afternoons and celebrate Monday mornings.  ‘That’s Crazy’ you say?  Well, not for those at Microsoft New England, where coming to work is a privilege.  We’re proud to be listed on Boston Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for the 6th consecutive year!  Microsoft is the highest rated software company at #2, behind William Raveis Real Estate.  See the full list of winners here.  Congratulations to all!

“The dedication to our customers, hard work and creativity
building products, leading-edge research and involvement with
the community truly makes Microsoft New England a special place” says the Cambridge Site Director Sara Spalding, who has been with the company for over 20 years.

Beyond material perks, Microsoft New England is alive with passionate and intelligent people.  Colleagues from around the globe bring a rainbow variety of personal hobbies and professional experiences.  Creative technical is not an oxymoron, rather a common personality type at Microsoft.  “People are committed to cross team collaboration and empowered to pursue big ideas” says Brian Burke, a 7 year veteran and Microsoft’s Senior Director for governmental affairs in Massachusetts.  “When everyone is motivated and moving in the same direction, successful outcomes are attainable and rewarded,” adds Burke.

Microsoft New England opens their space to non-profits, start-ups, and special interest groups every day.  We encourage you to see what’s going on at the LEED certified building of One Memorial Drive and come visit us.


But just visiting isn’t enough.  To fully experience the joy you must contribute to its creation.  And guess what? We’re hiring! Working here is like holding a winning lottery ticket where the pot grows bigger every day.  It’s only my fourth day on the job and as Friday afternoon quickly creeps up, I am daydreaming about Monday Morning.





Join Microsoft NERD at Boston’s PRIDE Parade this Saturday 6/9/12

Photo by Ryan Norbauer

Microsoft’s New England Research and Development, known to most as NERD, celebrated Boston Pride Week at Tuesday’s monthly employee mingle, Wind Down. NERD’s LGBT group, GLEAM hosted a fabulous and enthusiastic social hour with colorful decorations, pride spirit, adult beverages and mouth-wateringly delicious Toscanini’s ice cream. GLEAM, Gay & Lesbian Employees at Microsoft, started in the 1980’s and includes hundreds of members around the globe. The Northeast chapter is championed by Matt Feczko, a SharePoint Program Manager at NERD. At Tuesday’s Wind Down, Matt introduced his NERD colleagues to this weekend’s festivities, but words cannot adequately describe the experience that will be PRIDE 2012- you can march with us, too!

As Boston celebrates Pride week 2012 from June 1-10, Microsoft is proud to participate in the 42nd annual Pride Parade this Saturday, June 9th. The parade is rain or shine, but luckily for us Bostonians, the weather forecast is 70’s and sunny. Based on scientific calculations and basic fortune telling, 15,000 people are expected to partake in the event. The Microsoft GLEAM Team invites ANYONE and EVERYONE to participate with us. Come march, walk, dance, skip or hop with us from Copley Square to Government Center, where a giant festival will be materializing. Visit the Microsoft’s booth in the plaza to learn about open jobs and get cool free swag . ZipCar, Sheraton, AT&T, Eastern Bank, BudLight and Macy’s are just some of the corporations you’ll see displaying their pride this weekend.
Whether you are gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, asexual, or unsure, one thing is sure: YOU will be celebrated.

Bring your family, friends, partners, dogs and smiles to the intersection
of Dartmouth Street and Commonwealth Avenue at 11am. You know
that beautiful tree-lined path in the middle of Comm Ave?

That’s where we’ll be with free t-shirts, mesh bags, frisbees and hugs for you.
At 11:30 we’ll migrate to our starting location around Copley Square and get ready to celebrate.  As you can imagine, this event is going to be overflowing with fun and entertainment. We look forward to celebrating YOU with YOU!

Photo by Ryan Norbauer




Questions? Email Matt Feczko at mfeczko@microsoft.com.
Can’t find us that morning? Call or text Matt at 646-450-4339.