Note: There is absolutely no useful content in this posting whatsoever. If you are looking for some little nuggets to help you administrator Exchange, you aren't going to find it here. If, however, you're a bit bored because Exchange is working so well and there's nothing for you to do, read on.
Whenever we release a new product or a major new version of a product at Microsoft (or even when we hit a milestone during a release), we celebrate the accomplishment. We have ship parties, and we get ship gifts. We also have a party and get a gift around the holidays. The parties have mellowed a bit over the years but something about the gifts remains timeless. Rather than being like gifts that keep on giving, however, they are more typically gifts that never really gave in the first place. Getting gifts is a lot of fun, and I love getting them, but somehow the search for a single item that is fun or useful for several hundred people tends to yield some highly odd results.
In the early years, we tended to get clothing: hats, shirts, even jackets. These are typically the most popular and successful gifts (which is why we've stuck with T-shirts for Exchange 2007), but like all gifts of clothing they're pretty boring, so let's take a look at a few more creative examples. I have tacked up to my cork board a small gift that I think came for one of our beta releases for Exchange 2000 (that was a while ago, so I don't remember exactly when we got it). It's a VR Puppy. Remember these? It's got a small LCD display and buttons on it that you can use to pretend to feed it, walk it, etc. Mine's still in the original packaging, which either means it's worth some money to a collector or it died of starvation several years ago.
Next, let's turn to my memorabilia shelf and consider one of the more notorious ship gifts we've: a ceramic popcorn bucket. It came with a package of microwave popcorn. We got this as a holiday gift a few years ago when our morale budget was a bit tight due to other expenditures that year. The really impressive thing about the popcorn bucket is its weight. Perhaps it's lined with lead, possibly to prevent any leftover microwaves from leaking out of the popcorn and into your lap while you're eating from it, although I highly doubt anyone has been so bold (or strong of thigh) as to actually use it for that purpose.
Below that we have a very nice, elegant, Exchange 2000 pocket watch. It comes in a very nice, elegant wood case. It's still in its nice, elegant wood case. And last on our tour we'll take a look at the pocket combination tool. This is one of those combo tools that can fold out into a pliers, or individual blades can be extracted like a Swiss Army Knife. This was actually a pretty good idea, and I've even tried to use it once or twice. Mine could be the last one in existence, though, because most of them broke almost immediately upon opening them. Let's just say they weren't particularly well made. And then there's the micro-camera, which we got for Exchange 2003. Another quite good idea that didn't quite pan out due to quality problems. Like my VR puppy, it's also still in its original packaging.
Anyway, I hope this posting isn't read by any of the people responsible for purchasing these gifts, because I'd rather get another popcorn bucket than a lump of coal in my next stocking. I hope your Exchange server continues to provide you the free time necessary to read more useless posts like this.
- Jon Avner