Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella kicks off a company-wide hacakthon on the Redmond campus Tuesday morning.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is shaking things up at the company, and an event on the Redmond campus this morning is the latest example: It’s a 38-hour hackathon, designed to tap the creative energy of employees, help bring the best ideas to market faster, and put fresh eyes on Microsoft’s legacy code bases.

Nadella opened the event a few moments ago with a brief address to employees. He referenced the natural tendency to complain about products internally, and said the event presents an opportunity to take action.

“This is the time to stop the criticism and do something about it,” he said, before turning the crank on a siren to kick off the event.

More than 10,600 Microsoft employees around the world are participating in the hackathon, part of a larger internal Microsoft event called //oneweek that replaces the traditional day-long company meeting.

The event comes a little more than a week after Microsoft announced the largest layoffs in its history, part of a broader strategy by Nadella to streamline the company’s engineering processes.

The hackathon is now in full swing in a temporary facility called “Hackopolis” on the Microsoft soccer fields. We’re checking out some of the projects and will have more on GeekWire later today.

Follow-up: Inside Microsoft’s hackathon: Big ideas and new traditions at a tech giant in transition

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  • sarahschacht

    I wish I could be there and work with someone on Microsoft Word. It’s the biggest blockage for open government initiatives.

    • dkalade

      How so?

      • sarahschacht

        Ever wonder why all sites are only made of government data points of things that already happened? Never any documents. Or if there are, the sites point to PDFs. Word is the reason for that.

        It’s a longer blog post, but, essentially, Word is the foundation on which all government documents–for almost every government in the world–are created. Now, despite the fact that you can export in a docX format, this is insufficient for the needs of government because formatting and signatures are key components of the legal strength and meaning of a document (like, say, legislation). Word is a legacy system of government, and most governments don’t even bother to update Word in a timely manner, because there are so many legacy systems built on top of their old version of Word.

        Far too many governments print word docs, scan them, and post them to the web as PDFs (and, if you’re lucky, they bought software to accurately OCR their printed Word docs).

        For those of us obsessed with open data, you can see why this is a bad thing. But for those of us obsessed with open and democratic governance, it’s a bad thing because the PDF-ing of Word docs makes these documents difficult to search, mashup, and present in more useful, intuitive formats. It also contributes to the pay-to-play systems that the Onvias, Lexis-Nexis, and paid government document procurement systems create. Because Word contributes to a system of antiquated documentation, there are opportunities to others to monazite those documents by providing them in better, more searchable formats. Which creates an inequality of access on its worst days and a face-palm reaction on its best days.

        Word was never designed for government’s needs, it was just the easiest and most standard document creation tool at the time that governments needed to get better software to do the job (in the early to mid 1990’s). And now, it’s locked in, preventing a new generation of government transparency, modernization, and and cost-saving.

        Because Microsoft doesn’t understand this problem, it unwittingly contributes to closed and convoluted government document systems around the world.

  • how

    He’s so funny. Blaming critics. Yet if you are a critic and “do something” you are road kill. He’d prefer to load the company with H1-B contractors who never truly question anything but will obey the call to congregate, hold a cup, and look pleasant at the photo opt.

    But then he conflates layoffs with great leadership and being bold. It’s a play from the 1990’s to layoff. Yesterday’s technology and ideas today. What he’s saying is that he cannot lead, only satisfy the cronies. And he’s done nothing about showing how he’ll create a new culture where you truly do get rewarded more for your work than being connected. It’s a culture where if you do have ideas, the best you can hope for is that a crony will take it on, push you out, and take any credit. A stupid hackathon is a sucker’s bet to come forth with an idea so you can have a target on your back by even questioning a crony’s approach or threatening their kingdom.

    • boop

      I hope you are not right about the H1-B contractors but, on the other hand, finger-pointing only gets a person so far. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

    • FUD Hater

      Here we go with another loudmouth that has no idea how H1Bs work. The pay is that same for the given job (by law), whether you are H1B or not. Because MS absorbs the cost of the visa, moving the individual over here, etc, it costs MS more to hire an H1B that to not. Please, don’t open your mouth on this topic unless you know what you are talking about.

      • forReal

        Nope, study after study has shown that the pay of H1-Bs drive down rates and the H1-B person does not see “market rate” pay. Hey, let me introduce you to The Google.

      • boop

        Unless demand increases, an increase in the supply of a given commodity (e.g. SDEs) will cause the price (i.e. salaries) to go down. You don’t need a stud. A basic understanding of economic principles is all it takes.

        • boop

          study I mean

  • Dan

    This new leader not only looks weird… but his leadership is so stupid and aggressive that I almost miss Balmer. Where is Bill Gates? Is he running around the dumb camp?!

    I can just imagine the good mood and perfect state of mind of those 10,600 Microsoft employees around the world who are participating in the hackathon… happy to have just missed the largest layoffs in MSFT history.

    Stop criticism, Nadella, and do something about MS!

    • boop

      King County is full of people who don’t know how to pick out clothes for their body type. It’s truly amazing how one geographic region can be so full of clueless dressers.

      • FUD Hater

        That’s your big complaint? Clothes? Jesus, talk about first-world problems.

  • guest

    Has MS transitioned from the inevitable giant to the underdog yet? I wonder what it feels like on the inside. The few comments I’ve heard from friends make it sound like it’s business as usual, but that seems strange given all the leadership changes. Any FTEs have a perspective?

    • FUD Hater

      Everyone I know is excited that Ballmer is out, and it would be even better if a couple other people packed their bags (Kevin Turner and Lisa Brummel for starters). For the most part picking Nadella as the CEO has been positive as he has tons more technical chops than Ballmer along with getting the big picture. Getting rid of stack ranking was also a huge thing, although we’re still waiting to see how the new process pans out. These are my observations, anyway.

      • Name

        A few years ago, almost all the folks I knew that worked at MS pretty much hated it. Now the most hated workplace seems to be Amazon.

  • masher


  • ricrude

    Anyone who can’t hack e.g. non-technical PMs and SDETs, might want to update their LinkedIn profile.

  • Sublime

    Microsoft pretending they are a startup? Try real startups – BitTitan, Qumulo, Moz, etc.

  • VB6 Basic Programming

    Satya Nadella still hasn’t replied to the open letter asking for the Visual Basic 6 (VB6) programming language to be open sourced.
    Mr. Nadella, now is the time to do something about it rather than just complaining about the people who need VB6.

  • jcd0101

    you mean finally
    your looking to fix your old code?

    well its nice ..

    a good idea i think honestly..
    But 15 years too late..

    well better late then never..

    • Lodmot

      Mhm.. Because up until this point Ballmer was running the company.

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