Microsoft’s Underground Tour 2013

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting another “Underground Tour” of Microsoft. That’s the unofficial name for a tour our team has been hosting for the last few years where we take reporters behind the scenes of our campus and show them places that even Microsoft employees rarely get to see.

We had some of our greatest hits on the tour including


The Garage – a space for hobbyist, grassroots creators and makers. They have a fine collection of art from their science fairs.




Microsoft Research in Building 99 on our main campus. I got to play with SketchInsight, a project we recently showed at TechFest and it was mind-blowing. I can’t wait to use it to give a presentation. See below for a video of it in action

We also saw GeoFlow – more on that amazing visualization tool for Excel very soon and 3D haptic displays. You can see what Stuart Miles of Pocket-Lint made of that in his post Microsoft’s 3D Haptic feedback display shows a very touchy future.

We went to the Model Shop to see some hand carved mice and some Surface keyboards being printed




…and it goes on.

We went to the new Envisioning Center and saw a giant 120-inch 4k widescreen TV and a kitchen that I want. It has an amazing digital whiteboard powered by Bing and when you hold up a food it’ll tell you what you can cook with it – and then guide you through the cooking process using Kinect sensors.



…speaking of whiteboards, the team from Ubi-Interactive were on hand to show their use of Kinect to turn any surface in to an interactive surface which caught the eye of Pamela Newenham at The Irish Times in her post Touchscreen technology rises to surface at Microsoft.  

We met with a panel of Microsoft designers from Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox to talk about our design principles in hardware and software.







….and on we went with Windows, Windows Phone, Bing and of course an obligatory stop the at Microsoft Company Store and then a final stop with the wizard we call Stevie Bathiche who showed us his holodeck.




A fun time was had by all – I think. Well I had a fun time…I always do when I get to show people that Microsoft is not quite how it looks from the outside. I only wish I could take more people behind the scenes…maybe we need to do a documentary next time?

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