Two weeks ago, I flew out of Nashville at an hour that should only be reserved for the criminally insane, over the snowy embankments of Minneapolis and even further on into Washington state. Final destination: Seattle. Purpose: #ChampionsSummit.
This meeting of the minds kickstarted my second year as one of the #OfficeChamps, a program that aims to promote Office 365 and which I’m stoked to be a part of because it’s a crucial tool for any journalist, freelance or not. It might be weird if I were to, say, hop on board promoting Pampers, but to test out and give honest feedback about software I’ve used for the better part of two decades? Piece of cake. Plus, I got to go out to Seattle to explore the campus itself, and let’s be honest, what tech geek doesn’t dream of opportunities like that?
The first day and a half was primarily spent exploring Seattle as tourists. We had a couple Microsoft reps come to the hotel and give us tutorials on OneNote and the Windows phone, which I got to play with for a day. It’s pretty cool, I must say with a lot of fun built-in features. And the camera is killer, which is always the number one thing I seek in a smartphone as I’m ditching my DSLR more and more these days to travel light. Exhibit A:
On our final day in Seattle, we spent all morning and afternoon at the Microsoft campus in Redmond. Now, even though I lived in Silicon Valley and San Francisco for four years, I’ve never actually been inside a big tech company’s headquarters so this was a treat. We started at the Envisioning Center, which more or less showed us what the future could look like. I’m under NDA for that part of our visit, but let’s just say it wasn’t unlike being a cast member in Minority Report. So trippy!
Then, we continued our peek into the future and visited another building where we sat in a boardroom and listed to what all the Microsoft 3D printing team has been up to. I must have been living under a rock, because I didn’t know 3D printing was so ubiquitous already—there are printers you can buy for as little as $399 now. Want. Need.
The rest of our day was spent in the Visitor’s Center, where I got to learn more about using my new Surface Pro tablet, as well as hear about the next generation of Xbox Kinect. Even though I haven’t brought our Wii out from storage since we moved here two years ago, I’m seriously contemplating getting the new Kinect 2 when it comes out. Is that silly? There are just so many things you can do with it beyond gaming (which I also enjoy… in moderation), and I’m already thinking how it would be a good addition to the computer-controlled house we already have (we operate our thermostat and alarm systems from our smartphones!). Plus, the integrated experience between Xbox One, Surface and Bing is quite impressive.
Overall, I really enjoyed this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Microsoft and the tech industry as a whole. The trip was over way too fast, and I’m not so secretly hoping that Microsoft invites me out again in the very near future!
Disclosure: I am a Microsoft Office Champion. The company flew me to Seattle for #ChampionsSummit, put me up and ensured I had a helluva time—but never once tried to get me to say favorable things about the brand. I do that because I like them. Like, really like them.