You would expect that Apple would have a testing lab full of nearly every Macintosh ever made; certainly the most recent models, in all configurations.
Guess what? So does Microsoft. Is evil lurking inside Microsoft’s Mac Labs? Probably. It’s the nature of the Redmondian Beast. I’m suspicious of everything Microsoft.
Yesterday I came across a web site by David Weiss, apparently a Microsoft employee in the Mac Business Unit; the same folks responsible for Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac.
For good or bad, David’s web site is a great read for anyone interested in the Macintosh side of Microsoft’s business. His web log archives go back a year or so, and reveal a bit about the inner workings of Microsoft’s MBU.
Of course, what attracted me most was the Mac Labs at Microsoft. David was kind enough (or, foolish enough if he’s no longer gainfully employed after his most recent post, complete with photos) to provide many photographs of the many Macs used by Microsoft.
Try to imagine 2,000 square feet (about the same as a decent sized house) full of every kind of Mac you can think of or remember.
There’s old beige Macs, Blue & White G3s, Silver G4s, aluminum G5s, original iMacs, and pretty much everything else.
The Macs, at least most of them, are plugged in and working. Some are connected to a huge plasma display, ostensibly so Microsoft employees can gather around and ogle the latest features of Mac OS X and feel good about themselves since they’re not working on Windows Vista.
There’s row after row of iMacs, Apple displays of all types, iBooks and PowerBooks. Impressive, too, is how organized and neat the place is. It’s totally unlike what I expected; something akin to Gene Wilder’s lab in Young Frankenstein (which, you may not realize starred “Everybody Loves Raymond’s” Peter Boyle, who had stunt double; Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft’s CEO).
David says there’s a special place in the Mac Labs called the “Nursery” where the original Macs are kept, including running copies of Word and Excel, versions 1.0, respectively.
He describes some of the testing that Microsoft does on various versions of Mac Office, the automated processes required to speed up testing, and so on.
There’s rack after rack after rack of various Macs. One photograph and caption describes a recent purchase; three racks and 150 Mac mini’s.
Microsoft has somewhere around $30-billion to $40-billion in the bank, so they could afford to buy the Mac Business Unit a few of Apple’s great 30-inch Cinema Displays.
I’ve seen the 30-incher at the Apple Store and found I had to strain my neck left and right just to see the left and right of the screen.
Remember the Macword keynote when Steve Jobs said iPhoto “scrolls like butter?” David uses the term “Rotates like butter!” to describe rotating an image on the Cinema Display to view different Mac mini’s.
If you’re a Mac fanboy and don’t mind working for the Evil Empire, working at Microsoft’s Mac Labs would be a hoot.
When you stop to think about it, Microsoft’s Office is a large, often unwieldly application, with many uses, and many customers. Those customers will use many different Macs, some dating back many years.
Even worse are the printers. Just think of the number of different printers the Mac Business Unit must test with different Macs with different versions of Office.
David’s web log is not a frank discussion of Microsoft’s problems, executive management issues, or why Windows Vista won’t ship until 2007. It’s obvious that these are Mac folks who work for Microsoft.
In addition to all the great photos of the Macs down through Microsoft history, David posts some benchmarks of Microsoft Office for Mac on Intel Macs which use Rosetta.
In true Apple style, David displays a great t-shirt the Mac Business Unit came up with to highlight the upcoming switch to Xcode, required for Office to run natively on new Intel Macs.
If you didn’t know better, you’d swear David was working for Apple instead of Microsoft. His web log is a pleasant and interesting read, complete with photographs of some inner workings of the Mac Business Unit.
Click Here to take a look at the photos of all the Macs in the Mac Labs. If there’s evil lurking in the bowels of that part of Microsoft, it doesn’t show in David’s site.