It has been a roller-coaster couple of months at Microsoft Xbox headquarters, with a high-profile policy reversal and the departure of the division’s top exec. The pressure is no doubt mounting as the team gears up for the Xbox One release this fall. But at least one mystery demo in a conference room had (almost) everybody smiling.
The picture above (click the image to enlarge) was tweeted this afternoon by Albert Penello, who leads planning for Xbox One, Xbox Live and Kinect. “You know you’re building something awesome when this is how the room looks during feature demos!” he wrote, with the hash tag #xboxone.
Xbox vice president Marc Whitten, who is at the head of the table in the center of the picture, retweeted the picture today and pointed out that everyone out there would much rather see the feature itself than the reactions.
Although it was tweeted today, the shot was actually taken earlier this month, according to the SkyDrive date stamp. At any rate, it’s a fun little behind-the-scenes glimpse of Xbox HQ.
Any guesses about the feature? Bonus points for anyone in the comments who can name at least three of the other people in the room. Also, is that a beer on the table before 5 p.m.?
Update, Friday morning: The plot thickens. An eagle-eyed reader notes that the person in the pink shirt to the right of the frame looks a lot like Dave Campbell, the longtime Microsoft SQL Server technical fellow who is now listed as CTO of Microsoft’s Server & Tools Division. If so, it’s interesting that he was in an Xbox meeting.
Update II: I’m told that’s not Campbell but rather Stuart Ashmun, who is in charge of industrial design. Also, someone is helpfully annotating the original photo on SkyDrive with the IDs of some of the people in the room.
Here’s the deal: every Friday evening, the Engineering team meets to review the builds as we prepare for launch. As you can imagine, this time in the project is really exciting because you’re seeing all the code come together on one box – all the features these different groups have been working on are getting assembled. So you have the Program Managers and Development Managers come in and demo for the team, people can ask questions, get decisions made – whatever needs to happen.
As a guy who’s been working on Xbox since the beginning – it’s this time that is the most fun and nerve-wracking.
It’s a ton of hard work for the team right now – that last push to launch. But I can’t express how much fun it is. Regardless of what you think of us vs. Sony, as someone who loves gaming, console launches are the best.