Microsoft 3D Printing at Office Champions in Seattle

Behind the Scenes at the Microsoft Campus

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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.

Microsoft Office Champions in Seattle 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?

Microsoft Office Champions in Seattle 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:

Microsoft Office Champions in Seattle We were also privy to some classified info I can’t yet talk about, but keep your eyes peeled for a lot of cool Microsoft announcements in the months to come!

Microsoft Office Champions in Seattle 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!

Microsoft Office Champions in Seattle 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.

Microsoft 3D Printing at Office Champions in Seattle Microsoft 3D Printing at Office Champions in Seattle We actually got to sit and watch models be printed on site and play with some of the other products the team had produced, like this avatar, which I’m pretty sure is meant to be a mini SVV.

Microsoft 3D Printing at Office Champions in Seattle You guys, the future is absolutely blowing my mind, and it’s not even here yet.

Microsoft 3D Printing at Office Champions in Seattle 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.

Microsoft Office Champions in Seattle 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!

Microsoft Office Champions in Seattle 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.

  • November 18, 2013

    I worked as an MS contractor — never an employee, mind you, no dotcom/tech millions here — on and off for years. I was always amazed at how shiny parts of the campus are and in some places, they are doing super cool forward thinking tech — I was on a team that did some of that for a while, and it was fun, though we shipped some features my team did not think were good enough because upper management wanted them. That was hard.

    The reality of what happens there on a day to day basis is very different from the shiny surface stuff. I had a friend who started contracting there about a year after I did — hey, it was the 90s, anyone would could form a cogent thought had a gig there — and she said, “It’s like another country. I mean, they speak English, but I have no idea what they’re talking about half the time.” MS puts on a really good outward facing show, but anyone who’s done time there — has a few stories about how the place really works.

    • November 26, 2013

      Sounds eerily similar to having worked as a Conde Nast employee, ha 😉

  • November 18, 2013

    Oh my gosh, SO COOL!! What an awesome experience. Uh, I also was not aware of $400 3D printers. Off to furiously research this!!

    • November 26, 2013

      I know, right? How is that even possible? I’m sure the materials make it a lot more $$$, though…

  • November 18, 2013

    3D printing is so awesome. I want!!

  • November 19, 2013

    What an interesting tour and opportunity plus the bonus of Seattle. Shocked that 3D printers are that cheap. How are you liking the Surface Pro?

    • November 26, 2013

      To be fair, I haven’t used it much yet! I actually left all laptops, tablets, etc. at home while on vacation this past week =) But I’m loaning it to my mom today for her to test out for awhile as she doesn’t have a laptop or a tablet (only an archaic desktop computer)!

  • November 19, 2013

    Wow, thats a great tour. It almost looks like being inside one big computer. Im also for the 3D printer and at that price its a steal.

    • November 26, 2013

      I seriously don’t know how they can make 3D printers so cheap! But I do know I want one =)

  • November 20, 2013

    What an amazing place dude…………. It was nice to read about the Microsoft campus.

  • November 21, 2013

    Nice office! Definitely a place where we want to go to when we get to Seattle.

  • November 22, 2013

    That sounds amazing. Did you enjoy Seattle? Last time I was there I arrived during a massive snowstorm so the city was dead the next day (and the weather had cleared up). Perfect for sightseeing because no one was around! Except all the steep roads had been shut because of the ice.

    • November 26, 2013

      Oh yes, I enjoyed it very much! It was probably the fourth time I’ve ever been, and each visit, I love the city more and more.

  • November 23, 2013

    3D printer! sounds cool. It was a tour with a huge experience.

  • November 26, 2013

    I’ve been enjoying your posts as a Microsoft ambassador Kirstin. Their work place seems pretty interesting – weird that they’ve got a mural with a tweet painted on it, though. Is that inside the building or was it just a screenshot from a slide?

    • January 27, 2014

      Sorry, just now seeing this! It wasn’t a mural, but a projected image that changed every few seconds 😉

  • November 26, 2013

    The 3D printers blow my mind as well – OH THE POSSIBILITIES.

  • November 26, 2013
  • November 26, 2013

    This post is making me super sad that I didn’t take advantage of access to a 3D printer when I was at art school. Ah, wasted youth. Do you think they’d let an alum in to play around?!

    But really, this looks like an awesome trip! Always fun to have a peek behind the curtain.

  • November 29, 2013

    3D printers are absolutely crazy! I have a friend who made his own printer and is making some crazy shit. Congrats on becoming a MS Office Champion!!

  • December 12, 2013

    Yeah, unions have an agenda, they eat human flesh and drink blood, blah blah blah blah blah.However, they also rather strongly advocate for things like “work/life balance”. The 8 hour day wasn’t always required. When you’re dealing with a multinational multibillion dollar corporation, it can sometimes be handy to have some backup.I think the comparison to SPEEA and Boeing in Washtech’s article is VERY instructive. People know the order in the lifeboat and that no-one is guaranteed a job- and it seems that a presence of a union has made for some significant transparency that doesn’t exist at Microsoft. There’s no reason an agile, slimmed down Microsoft is incompatible with a union at all.

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