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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 18, 2008 at 12:36 PM

New Microsoft Executive Briefing Center has rooms for prayer, breast feeding

The new additions to Microsoft’s Executive Briefing Center on its headquarters campus in Redmond provide some insight into the nature of global business and sales.

Thomas James Hurst / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Bill Gates hosted Anders Fogh Rasmussen, prime minister of Denmark, at the Executive Briefing Center in 2006.

The broad hallways are decorated in neutral tones and adorned with unique art. The place has a staid, calm feeling, by design. High ceilings, modern furniture and lush appointments are meant to make the space comfortable for business people from all walks of life — more than half of the visitors Microsoft hosts here are international. Top executives and world leaders come in droves to hear sales pitches, cut deals or just meet with Microsoft executives, up to and including CEO Steve Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates.

The EBC is “one of our most strategic sales tools,” said Lynne Stockstad, general manager of enterprise marketing.

Update: I’ve corrected some erroneous numbers in this part of the post.

Among the features of the 60,000 20,000-square-foot addition, referred to as the East Wing, are a small conference room that can be used for prayer and will soon be outfitted with a medallion to indicate the qibla — the direction of Mecca.

There’s a private room for nursing mothers. I asked whether there are many briefings in which new moms bring their babies.

“We anticipate anything that one of our customers, executives, would need, so that they’re able to focus their time spent here,” said Monica Drake, a senior PR manager with Microsoft’s Worldwide Enterprise and Partner Group.

Other amenities include a concierge desk and a large dining area that sports skylights and huge east-facing picture windows looking onto a stand of evergreens and the Cascades in the distance. It’s a pretty nice view — probably not unlike what the company’s top leaders see from the upper floors of Building 34 next door.

“When we talk about bringing the outside indoors and giving people the flavor of the Pacific Northwest, this is something unique about Microsoft,” said Bryan Rutberg, director of the EBC. “We’re up here and we want our visitors to get a sense of the values of the Pacific Northwest and the values of Microsoft.”

The remodel will allow Microsoft to host 15,000 visitors a year in the facility, which adjoins Microsoft’s large conference center and also has displays such as the prototype “home of the future.” The previous capacity was 10,000 visitors. The EBC opened in 2000 and is one of nine eight Microsoft operates around the world.

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