A view from inside Microsoft's company meeting

At annual employee gathering, Microsofties pack Safeco Field to learn what the company has in store, including demos of Windows Phone 7, online services, and more.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read

Tens of thousands of Microsoft's workers took a field trip today, heading to Seattle's Safeco Field, where the company is just wrapping up its annual employee meeting.

Amy Sedaris provided comic relief as emcee. (Past hosts include Seth Meyers of "Saturday Night Live" and Rainn Wilson of "The Office.") As usual, the focus was on the series of speeches and demos from company executives. Microsoft issued a no-tweeting edict, but some tipsters were kind enough to send a long a few tidbits.

Among the highlights were a demo of a business intelligence app for Silverlight that will connect to Microsoft's online productivity suite, known as BPOS, as well as a demo by Office exec Chris Capossela showing how Windows Phone 7 connects to the Office Web Apps.

As for the comic videos, the best, I'm told, was a Halo spoof in which the red team was using Windows Phone 7 for comms and targeting, while the iPhone protected the blue team. (Spoiler alert: The blue team had to patch and got bricked.)

And, although the company didn't comment on the meeting itself, Ballmer did sit down with The Seattle Times for an interview ahead of the meeting, talking about the company's stagnant stock price, Windows Phone 7, Bing, and other topics.

In the interview, Ballmer noted that he checks Facebook every day, reflected on the lessons learned from the ill-fated Kin, and was asked whether the company was done laying off workers.

"'Layoffs' is a very specific word," Ballmer told the paper. "Are we always trimming and remapping? We're always moving people around. We try something, a project doesn't quite work, we'll cut that team, we tell people find a job someplace else in the company. We're going to continue to do that sort of thing."