Excerpts from “Inside Out: Microsoft — In Our Own Words”

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 9, 2000 — To commemorate the company’s 25 th anniversary, Microsoft this month published Inside Out , a book written by and for Microsoft employees that highlights the products, people and culture that transformed Bill Gates’ and Paul Allen’s vision for personal computing into reality. Featuring new essays by Gates and individual stories from hundreds of current and former Microsoft employees, the book provides personal anecdotes of triumph and failure, facts and trivia, and a look ahead to the company’s next 25 years.

Book Excerpts:

Gina Wesse, Community Investment Manager, South Africa

“The South African government was having many problems in 1994, and they wanted the national elections to go smoothly. When they approached us for software and technical assistance, we agreed to help, and we brought people from as far away as the UK to design and set up systems to organize the elections. Our people spent 24 hours a day at election headquarters and worked right up to the last minute. Everything went just like clockwork. To me, that’s the perfect example of technology doing its work.”

Hubert Daubmeier, Europe, Middle East, and Africa Support Manager, Germany

“No one in Germany could imagine what unification might mean, and being involved in the first free election was a very exciting experience for me. Because the Election Committee in East Berlin was composed of people who had never conducted a democratic election, it was quite a challenge for everyone.”

Rachel Iwamoto, Software Test Developer, Consumer Services

“It’s true that sometimes developers aren’t delighted to see us. They work so hard, and then here we come, pulling their work apart. My test manager, Susan Higgs, used to work for another company. And she said that when they knew she was coming around with bug reports, some developers would run and hide in the men’s restroom. But that didn’t stop her. She would just walk in and chase ’em down. There are definitely times when you’re walking down the hall and you see developers ducking into doorways. They groan when they see you coming with all their bugs in a basket, but it’s just part of the job.”

James Tierney, Test Architect, Internet Explorer

“I crash my cell phone at least once a month; I crash my microwave a few times a year. I always run into whatever bugs are out there. Software works much better for most people than it does for me. But software doesn’t always work that well for ordinary people either. When things go wrong with their software, most people think,
“I made a mistake. I need to do this differently so I don’t make that mistake next time.”
And me, I tend to blame the software. That’s what I always argue when I report my bugs to developers. I figure that if I did something that caused a program to crash, then someone else out there might do it, too.”

Scott Oki, Former Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Service

“I figured Microsoft was missing a big, big opportunity called international. I had absolutely no experience doing anything internationally, but I really thought we should put focus there. So, as a new employee, I wrote a business plan, asked Bill for $1 million in seed money, and he said okay, have at it. It took up the next 4 1/2 years of my life.”

Ed Fries, Vice President, Games Publishing

“My favorite real-world game was Swing Around the Wing, this huge golf event I started at Microsoft in 1987. I was working late one night and brought in a putter because I’m a struggling golfer so I thought I could practice a little. One night, a couple of friends joined me and we were taking longer and longer putts down the hallway and someone said, ‘Why don’t we go all the way around the building?’ So we tried it just for fun and we got hooked.”

Craig Mundie, Senior Vice President, Consumer Strategy

“We’ve already seen computers make a big difference in the primary function of the car — getting you from one place to another economically and safely. Computers already regulate the engine and safety features, cell phones are commonplace in the car, and the current trend is computers that help with navigation. But the reality is that most of the driving you do is to places you’ve already been. You don’t need a map for that. You want to avoid the aggravation of being in traffic. A rich, connected computer in the car can obviously help.”

David Weise, Project Leader, Microsoft Research

“I used to be a physicist, but I wasn’t the kind of physicist who liked dealing with big particle accelerators or huge experiments where you needed hundreds of people to get things done. I was a
“tabletop”
physicist. I liked working with my hands, dealing with problems that can fit on a work table. Working with PCs gives me that kind of thrill. There are always new experiments to try, new problems to solve, all in a box that fits on my desk.”

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Community investment manager Gina Wesse talks about her experiences supporting South Africa’s 1994 elections, and support manager Hubert Daubmeier explains how Microsoft helped ensure that unified Germany’s first free elections ran smoothly.

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