Microsoft Build 2012 was held at Microsoft’s headquarters located in Bellevue near Seattle, Washington in the United States of America. Build 2012 was where Microsoft was sharing the latest information on Windows 8 which was released that same year and gave developers from all of the world to learn more about the then new Windows 8 operating system as well as meet with others from the industry and from within Microsoft and I was lucky enough to be able to go to the event in person as one of the many hundreds of attendees present at the event and was also the last time the event was held at the Microsoft Campus itself. It was a two and a half day event with two keynotes and dozens of sessions to learn from and also a great opportunity to visit the United States of America for the very first time and attend a Microsoft Build conference, both of which I’d always wanted to do having followed previous events online and even got DVDs of the event’s predecessors such as PDC.
Microsoft Build 2012 for me started off with a taxi ride from home to Newcastle International Airport and then a short commuter flight to London Heathrow where I then made my connection to an outgoing flight on a Boeing 747, which I’d never been on or seen up close before to Seattle. The flight started with an initial glitch of the on-board computer assuming the plane was at altitude and not at the gate and proceeded to trigger the oxygen masks in sequence, luckily with the aid of what looked like a broom handle and some patience the oxygen masks were pushed back up with they belong and we pushed back from the terminal and took off for the long eight hour flight. With a lot of ocean in between the only sights to be seen were Greenland and most of Canada bit was a route that missed a major hurricane was hitting the East Coast and New York area at that time, before landing in Seattle late local time, where it would have been a good idea to have filled in a particular form before I landed, that I didn’t and in doing so placed myself at the back of a very long queue. I was the last person being processed of all the flights it seemed and had a friendly security agent go through all the steps of getting myself cleared for entry, then the computer crashed, which cause a slight delay but also delight when I’d mentioned my purpose of my visit was for a Microsoft conference and the agent jokingly ask if I could get them to help out with replacing their computer. I then made my way out of the terminal remembering to mention I had no fruit or vegetables on me, just water, as I passed customs and waited for a taxi, and was able to confirm to my Mum later that they are indeed yellow, but also seemed to be exclusively Toyota Prius cars, that took me to my hotel and to bed to rest ready for my first full day in Seattle before the conference.
Microsoft Build 2012 was not the only thing I could enjoy while there but have a whole day to explore the sights and sounds of Seattle, the only thing I knew was there was the Space Needle so I first thing the morning after arriving I got a taxi to take me there. I bought a ticket to take me to the top and once there admired the views and decided to call home to say how I was doing, which turned out to be the clearest mobile phone call I’d ever done consider it was more than 5,000 kilometres further away than any call I’d made before. I also had a kind fellow visitor take a picture of me at the top of the Space Needle after seeing me struggle to do it myself – something that would later turn out to be very significant as I later used on a dating website where I met my fiancée as a result of her noticing that photo initially thinking it was the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada where she’d once visited and her first message to me was asking me about it. I could see from the top there were plenty of places around the Space Needle to visit so I decided to go and visit as many as I could which included an exhibition of ancient Egyptian artefacts I’d wanted to see at the O2 in London but missed out was there, the Museum of Pop Culture with some great modern exhibits such as film props and memorabilia and the Monorail into downtown Seattle where I stopped for lunch at McDonalds – remembering to order a size smaller than usual so it would still be same as was used to back home. I made the most of the time around the Space Needle to see as much there as I could before heading back to the hotel and for a party in the evening, although wasn’t able to stay as long as I would like as the time difference was catching up with me so I headed back to the hotel.
Microsoft Build 2012 registration was the following day, which was my first visit to the Microsoft Campus after being picked up by the courtesy bus from the hotel. After waiting for a couple of hours I had my credentials and a chance to chat to fellow attendees and also Microsoft employees who were happy to share some of their insights and insider information which was refreshing, if not a little unexpected. It was amazing to be at the campus itself I had to stop myself for a moment to take in the fact that I was indeed there and once back at the hotel looking forward to the start of the conference and happy to be adjusting better to the time difference. The first day of the conference was the also the opening keynote that I got as near to the front of the queue for and enjoyed speaking to people while waiting before going in. During the keynote we found out that every attendee would get a Surface RT and a Nokia Lumia 800 Phone for free, this was followed by the first sessions of the day held in a few of the campus buildings either side of the nearby interstate highway. There was an employee store where I bought a few small items and T-shirts plus used a voucher that attendees had and bought a couple of copies of Windows 8 for my laptop and computer back home. There was plenty of food and snacks available to keep me going throughout the day and certainly made the most of the sessions and chances to meet the people holding them in person. There was another party for the first day that also coincided with Halloween, which is even more of a big deal in America, with drinks and even pumpkin carving, it was also a chance to explain Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th to those who’d not heard of that celebration back here in the UK.
Microsoft Build 2012 second day was another keynote to help give an overview of what to expect that day which was also the final day of the conference, followed by many other popular sessions to learn more about what was coming back then, it was a chance to look around the parts of the campus nearby and the company store and public areas and seeing the Entertainment and Devices division which at the time was secretly working what would later become the Xbox One. With another day over, great sessions attended and tasty meals enjoyed the conference was over, all that was left was the closing party which was held near one of the locations I’d been near on my first day visiting the Space Needle, and a chance to see it by night, it was a great way to end the conference before heading back to the hotel.
Microsoft Build 2012 was over but I had one last full day to enjoy, so I took a taxi to the Boeing Factory for the tour and museum there, where my friendly taxi driver offered to pick me up from as it as well and spent a few hours enjoying seeing the factory and exhibits and on the way back was also able to stop off at the Museum of Flight where I met a real Astronaut, with a familiar sounding accent who turned out to be originally from Teesside which is also in the North East of England like Newcastle upon Tyne. Both museums were fantastic and gave a unique opportunity to see aeroplanes being built or see classic ones in person such as the very first 747, Concorde, an Air Force One and even a wooden Space Shuttle used by every astronaut to train on before going into space. I returned to my hotel ready for my last night there before heading to the airport the following day then flying the eight hour journey back to London Heathrow, there was a little bit of a delay but I made my connecting flight back to Newcastle just in time before getting a taxi home. It was an amazing experience and something I never thought I’d ever get the chance to do, which was to visit the United States of America and the Microsoft Campus, something I’ll always remember and to think of how going there changed my life in so many different ways, some of which I could never even imagine at the time, it was certainly well worth attending Microsoft Build 2012!
Originally Published 16th February 2017