I attended college for the first time when I was three years old.  The College of Wooster Nursery School, that is.

One of the best features of nursery school was that they went to great lengths not to leave anyone out of activities.  Probably the most fun regular event was the celebration of birthdays, involving apple juice and gummi bears and little plastic toys.  In order to let everyone share in the fun, people such as me who had summer birthdays that took place when school wasn't in session got to pick and celebrate a pretend birthday.  As I recall, my pretend birthday was in April.

I bring this up because today, October 28, is Pretend Halloween here in Office-land.  Or perhaps "Halloween, Observed" in the spirit of Lincoln and Washington.  The rest of Microsoft is celebrating Halloween on... wait for it... Monday, October 31.  Why are we celebrating Halloween today?  Well, because e-mail came a few weeks ago notifying us that Halloween came on October 28 if you worked in Office, of course.  Why else?

Halloween is a special and fun work holiday.  A lot of people come to work in costume, or at least bring a costume and dress up in the afternoon.  I have a floppy tan hat in my office that I've had in there for years; it comes in handy once a year on Halloween when people say "what are you supposed to be?" and I can put on the hat and say "Crocodile Dundee."

Anyway, we set up trick or treating in the hallways of the building, and people bring their kids by and show them off in their costumes.  The kids love it because they get access to more candy accessible in less square footage than you can shake a plastic pumpkin at.  And of course it's all fun until you have to get in the car at the end of the day and compete with twice the normal on-campus traffic.  Beep!  Beep!  Beep!

My advice: stay at work until at least 8pm on the trick-or-treat day.  Unless, of course, you celebrate Halloween on October 28.

Time spent dressing up aside, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to ship a product like Office.  I love that Microsoft has a fun environment in which to work, and Halloween is one of those days when it's a little bit special to be here.  But even with the dedicated work of everyone involved, it does take several years to design and engineer a new version of Office.

I'm reminded of this when I look back to all of the progress our team's made on the Office 12 user interface over the last year.

So, as an extra-special spooky Pretend Halloween treat, I present for your enjoyment a screenshot of what the Office 12 user interface looked like in the daily build released exactly one year ago today:


(Click to view full picture)

That was truly a scaaaaaary build!

(Now you can see why we don't put builds into beta testing until we're done with the main coding milestones.  Trust me, you wouldn't want them. :) )

So from me to you, have a very happy Pretend Halloween.  If you're having your own Pretend Trick or Treating this weekend, play it safe!  Don't forget to empty any Pixy Stix you might receive into the trash because they are probably filled with cyanide.