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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Visiting the Main Campus

First Look at Microsoft

The day started pretty early at 6am. The events today were more exciting and I would be visiting the Microsoft campus for the first time. The breakfast was arranged at the Marriott, Main Hotel. This was a just a block away. There Kevin would be briefing about the day’s activities. The day was kicked off with a few presentations. Chris To, one of the members from the Team that won the Imagine Cup US National Finals last year, talked about his experiences during the finals. He currently works at Microsoft with the Mobile and Embedded devices division. After him, the guys who introduced the Windows Mobile 5.0 at the Mobile Dev conference were there. One of them, Ford Davidson was on the stage with Bill Gates at the Mobile Devcon. These guys showed the new capabilities that were added for Windows Mobile 5.0. The stress was more on a rich client experience. I got excited by the whole idea of developing applications for the Mobile device. I guess more and more applications would be deployed on a Mobile device and that creates a whole new market.

After this presentation we were scheduled to go to the Microsoft Visitor Center, which was earlier called the Microsoft Museum. This was a cool place and showcased many of the historical items right from DOS to Windows XP. After that we went to the Company Store where we got a voucher for buying items for a minimal cost. The Microsoft employees get a cool benefit and they get to buy hardware and software at a really cheap price. For example, Windows XP that sells at $200 outside can be purchased for $35.

After the trip to the Museum and the Store, we got back to the conference rooms. The teams were divided into 2 and one went to the StepToe conference room and the other to the Constance. We were in Constance. They had arranged a project fair where would show our work to the Microsoft employees. We got a chance to meet people from the Visual Studio 2005, Team System 2005 and from the XBox, DirectX group. This is a rare oppurtunity to get feedback and suggestions from these people. The fair lasted from 1pm to about 4pm and then we got back to Marriott.

Halo 2 Tourney

At 7:30 we assembled in the conference room of Marriott for a Halo 2 tournament on the XBox. Each of us were paired with a Microsoft Employee and two of us would compete with other such teams. I played pretty miserably but I enjoyed interacting with the Microsoft guy. He happened to be from the Mobile devices division. We discussed about the new Windows Mobile 5.0 API and what could be expected in terms of developer tools. Visual Studio 2005, codenamed Whidbey would be big on Mobile device development. The next release Orcas would add support building for the Longhorn Operating System. I got to know some of this stuff from the people who were involved in the development. That was cool.

While the tourney was going on there was continuous supply of Pizzas, Beer and other drinks (non-alcoholic). Had a blast. Since I had got out of the tournament pretty quickly I went to the basketball ring and started shooting. It was a welcome change to shoot after such a long time. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I realized I was not that bad at shooting 3 pointers. I played for about 2 hours near the ring. Fortunately others were not to keen on playing basketball leaving me the entire place. Love this game. At 12 we realized we have a big day tomorrow, the day of the competition. So we all packed up and went back to our rooms. I guess I slept at 1 or something. I was still in mood for more basketball. Zzzzzzzz........

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