Tour of the Mac lab at Microsoft

I linked to a great post by David Weiss in which he gives a virtual tour of Microsoft’s Mac Lab from Robert Scoble’s blog.  The tour is pretty interesting and the sheer number of Macs they have is amazing:

We have lots of Apple hardware. You can see here the old colorful iMacs along with some of the old iBooks. You can also see two of our Lab Technicians working on the backup systems, but more about that later. Up until a few months ago we had every significant hardware revision Apple has ever released since the dawn of time. We even had a section of the Lab we affectionately called the "Mac Nursery" where we kept all the older Macs going. We even had an old SE/30 and IIci and super expensive Mac II all connected via PhoneNet running Spectre, just for fun. It’s always super fun to boot Word 1.0 or Excel 1.0 on these old machines and see how much things have changed. Due to lack of space in the Lab we had to put all of these older machines into storage and recycled the following:

Macintosh (original)

Macintosh SE

Macintosh SE/30

Macintosh Classic

Macintosh Centris 610 <– I had this one in my room during high school!

Macintosh IIci

Macintosh IIsi

Power Macintosh 7100/66

Power Macintosh 7100/80

Power Macintosh 7500/100

Quadra 650

Power Macintosh G3

Duo Dock with Powerbook Duo 2300c

Power Computing PowerCenter Pro 210

May they rest in peace.

Mac mini array

The testing facility for Mac Office is pretty impressive and Weiss shows the progression from G3s to the better looking G4s to dual processor G5s and more recently to a massive array of 150 Mac minis:

Then Apple give us a special gift. 🙂 You’d be probably be very surprised at the cost of running all these machines. There’s the obvious electricity costs, but also cooling costs and even the physical space costs. Additionally, our system scales, not with CPU horsepower, but with quantity of machines. Most of the tests we run don’t run significantly faster on a dual G5 vs. a single G4. So when Apple announced the Mac mini it wasn’t minutes before we were considering how to use it for our automation system. The Mac mini has all the perfect qualifications:

1. Low power

2. Low heat

3. Small

4. Easy to pack together

5. Inexpensive

So we got a few to test things out…

Weiss talks about how Microsoft runs its various testbeds and what they do when they take a break from all the testing and development.  Isn’t this what books like Cluetrain and even Scoble and Shel Israel’s Naked Conversations are all about?  Letting employees express themselves directly and have a conversation about what they do?

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