A Visit to the Microsoft Campus in Seattle

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My most recent trip to Seattle served more of a purpose than mere socializing; I was there as part of my Microsoft Champions program to hear all the new things the company has in store.

As someone who has always worked in the media, I’m loving this peek behind the curtain at how a big technology company like Microsoft works. On this trip to the campus, we hit up the research center where we got a little insight to the Gigapixel ArtZoom project (you should seriously check it out here), as well as learn about the how Skype group video messaging is now free and the introduction of Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri.

Microsoft Gigapixel ArtZoom

On the final day, we split up in teams and were sent on a OneNote scavenger hunt around Ballard. Well, if you’ve caught on by now, you’ll know I’m super competitive, not to mention I was on the same team as my travel blogging pal Keryn, who is a Seattle local and knows the terrain quite well. Competitive advantage? Perhaps. And yes, we won all the same.

After running around the neighborhood, answering clues that were uploaded to our shared folder in the OneNote app—Microsoft’s digital note-taking software, in case you’ve yet to use it (it’s free)—and adding photos as proof that we’d checked them all off, the four of us sprinted back to the Hotel Ballard to clock in.

OneNote scavenger hunt

For those who like a fun little technology-fueled competition, this would be a fun team-building activity. The Microsoft team so kindly gifted each of us with a Livescribe 3 pen for winning (OK, truth be told, in the end they gave everyone pens, but we were still the victors and no one’s taking that from us, HA!).

Livescribe Pen

If you haven’t used the Livescribe yet, it connects to your phone or computer via Bluetooth, so as you take notes in the accompanying notebook, it shows up digitally on your screen.


And there’s a OneNote integration, where you can send your scribbles from Livescribe directly to OneNote. Sometimes, technology just blows my mind.

We also left with some other fun new toys, specifically a Windows phone (on which I currently have no service so unfortunately can’t give you my thoughts) and a Surface Pro 2.


Now, I already had a Surface 2, but the Pro is much sleeker, runs faster, and the screen resolution is leaps and bounds better than my original.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2

I’ll be honest: I’ve owned an iPad 2 for three years now and maybe used that thing five times (I won it in an online contest so didn’t spend any money on it). SVV uses it to play games and read books, but though I might have Apple computers, I’ve just never been wild about the iPad. The Surface is much more my speed, as it’s actually a mini-computer, keyboard and all. There’s a touch keyboard, of course, but I have the handy attachment, which is crucial for the amount of heavy typing I do.

Now, it won’t replace my laptop—nothing ever will as I primarily use my laptop on the road for photo and video storage and editing and need a lot of storage and manpower for that—however, I rarely take my computer on weekend trips or short getaways if I can help it, so I would definitely be willing to take the Surface 2 Pro in these instances instead (and help avoid the shakes I get when SVV demands I leave my laptop at home!).

I like the easy swipe functionality with the Surface Pro 2 and the way the tiles are laid out on the homepage. I can hide them, make them smaller, enlarge them, reorganize, all depending on what I want where and how much I use a certain program. While the Surface Pro 2 doesn’t come pre-installed with the Office suite, Office 365 allows you to install on up to five devices on any one account, so I was able to add my Surface onto my existing Office account. As a journalist, I don’t need a whole lot of fancy apps for work, but the two things I do use daily are Word docs for writing, note-taking and submitting all my copy to my editors, and Excel for accounting, invoicing and tracking payments.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2

I just signed on for a third year of the Office Champions program and am excited to see what new technology I get to learn about from Microsoft. (Personally, I hope it includes some fitness on the Kinect One, though I realize that’s not within the scope of the Office Suite!)

  • June 23, 2014

    Great post lady! Exciting things are definitely happening behind the doors of Microsoft. I really need to jump on the fitness stuff with our Kinect, but we don’t have an XBox One yet, just the 360 still 🙁 Great photos, esp. that top one with the cute red head. Ha!

  • June 23, 2014

    Visit this new apps site for toddlers, Available downloads for iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and all Adroid phones and tablets.

  • June 25, 2014

    Oh my gosh, Kristin! This is so cool! You’re so lucky! I would want one for my self! I wish I can get all those freebies as well!

  • February 14, 2017

    My dream is one day to meet Microsoft, a great company built by Bill Gates.

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