The office disco party

One of the long-standing traditions at Microsoft is to play a prank on someone's office while they're away on vacation. You can imagine what most of these pranks are like, filling someone's office with packing peanuts or other materials, or relocating their office to an unlikely part of the building (the bathroom, the cafeteria), or something more subtle like mirror-reversing all the furniture in the office. Redecorating an office is a common theme, such as turning their office into a French bistro or a golf course (with real grass).

One particularly memorable office redecoration was from 1996 or so. One of the managers, let's call him "Bob", had a bit of a reputation for being "cool" in a nightclubby sort of way. While Bob was away on vacation, his team set to work. They emptied his office completely, painted the walls black, removed the ceiling tiles to give it that "industrial" look, and installed a disco dance floor, disco lights, and a stereo with turntable.

It was Disco Bob's Party Palace.

When Bob returned, there was quite a happenin' disco party waiting for him.

Comments (34)
  1. Adhan says:

    Thanks for losing time in this way instead of finding a good way to avoid overwriting the MBR just because few users have that need.

    Thanks, really.

  2. camillo says:

    Adhan, maybe your comment is ironic and it’s just me that I don’t get it, but I find such a statement offensive. What have you done for us that we should thank you?

    Raymond, if you start censoring people like this you have my support.

  3. Starfish says:

    Right on, Adhan! What happened to the days where workers were chained to their desks (mentally and/or physically)? They are there to server their employers 100%, not enjoy the experience. How can you get work done when people aren’t working? It is plainly obvious that all this productivity and morale-boosting rubbish is a liberal agenda for the Commies to take away our business to their child labour sweatshop bunkers.

  4. Dave says:

    Adhan, I understood that Raymond preloads these posts many days or even weeks in advance. That allows him to get the computer to work for him, rather than him being a slave to his computer. Hmmm, does the MSDN blog software provide a scheduled posting feature or does Raymond have his own solution?

    You’re also being unreasonable. If the number of people that have a particular problem (not just computer problems, but medical, political, etc.) are small and the cost of fixing that problem is large, it often doesn’t make sense to solve that problem. Plus there is no guarantee that fixing a particular problem won’t create several others that impact even more people.

  5. JD says:

    Adhnan, you are an idiot.


    How cool is that? I really wish I could work in a company where I could do something like this! I say, keep these stories coming!


  6. those are quite costly pranks… at least for the average programmer I guess

  7. Trey Van Riper says:

    Meh… the Adhans are always out there.

    Those are the same people who complained that Netscape had embedded little jokes in their about::// urls long ago, shouting rubbish about how it bloated the browser without understanding that it was a simple bit of URL redirection (very little impact on the overall size of the code).

    Killjoys, all.

    But then, some people lack artistic vision or drives, and cannot appreciate or understand the utility of silly little pranks and easter eggs. By fostering a creative environment, you stand a greater chance of true innovations, such that maybe someday, that MBR problem might find itself resolved through a solution nobody considered.

    I’m unsure why we even catered to that comment, except perhaps because we felt the trolls needed a little food.

  8. Lance Fisher says:

    Adhan’s comment was so ridiculous it must be sarcasm. If not – well, it’s just ridiculous.

  9. LOL, that’s an awesome prank =) I’ve done one or two in my career, but nothing on the scale of these!

  10. At a place I once worked, one of our customers complained about the window class names our application used. They literally ran something like Spy++ and complained that the cute class names were "unprofessional." Of course the PHB’s running the company insisted we change the names. We did. We used base64 encoded variations on "XYZ Inc Sucks".

  11. AC says:

    Well, now I finally understand why Raymond wants all his office properties to fit in one box. He never knows where he’s going to return after the holiday.

  12. S says:

    Adhan, lighten up.

  13. Jackoff says:

    In University, we filled the woman dorm hallway with plastic cups filled with water. You can imagine the comedy that ensued.

  14. anti-Adhan says:

    Wonderful post! Keep the good posts coming, Raymond.

    Reminds me of back in ’89 when a manager returned from vacation to find his entire office ‘missing’. While he was gone, his team had put up sheet rock over his door, and painted it to match the hallway!

  15. Adhan Apologist says:

    Adhan’s comment was in response to a recent post entitled "Why does Windows setup lay down a new boot sector?".

    In that post, multiple situations came up that followed along similiar lines to this.

    Poster 1: Would it be possible to have a yes/no option for overwriting a partition table?

    Poster 2: Get real. Like the developers have time to add a feature that will help 1% of the users, when they can be debugging code that could effect the other 99%.

    I thought Adhan’s post was funny counter point, highlighting the weakness of that arguement.

    Note: To my knowledge Raymond back up that view point, so I read it as a sarcastic counterpoint rather than a direct insult.

  16. Adhan Apologist says:

    Ah good. The note at the bottom was missing a vital part. "Didn’t"

    As in:

    "To my knowledge Raymond didn’t back up that view point…"

  17. Nahda says:

    Perhaps anyone who assumes that this prank was set up on company time may want to re-think their own work ethic instead of projecting it on others.

  18. AG says:

    Picture office with window next to door…

    Take a box of packing peanuts, golf balls, whatever and put them in a box up against the window and at the base of the door. This gives the illusion that the whole office is filled with peanuts.

    Your boss being hip to the "fill the office" prank will refuse to go into his office for days.

  19. AG says:

    I recall a Redmond story where a manager’s office was moved to a corner of the parking garage.

    Complete with chainlink cage, locking gate, power, network, printer, PC, phone, and fax.

    Can anyone confirm that story?

  20. tsrblke says:

    Geez, Where’d you guys come up with the money for that one? I assume you had to paint the walls black then paint them back to their (presumablly) dull off white afterwords. Question, who got to keep the Disco dance floor? Or was it a rental. Personally I could use that setup in my basement, you’re group is free to come over anytime Raymond :D.

  21. Ad Han says:


  22. Ahh, that takes me back to uni…

    The key with these things is to make sure no harm is done. Once someone thought it would be fun to put all my books in my bookcase in with the spines innermost and in his enthusiasm to ram them in quickly before I returned folded the covers in half back on themselves.

    Probably best to avoid doing this to someone when they have a deadline to meet as well.

    Even so, I wish some of the places I had worked were as lively as yours.

  23. acorn atom says:

    Adhan… where’s your office at? when are you going on vacation next?


  24. bramster says:

    I’d take it as an opportinity to consider mu retirement plans.

    "I’m not coming back to work until my workspace is returned to its original configuration"

    "You’ve got one day."

    Now, if you are generally considered to be an asset to the organization . . .

    Otherwise. . .

    Or perhaps the act of transformation of one’s office is "The Statement of Worth"

  25. Uh huh says:

    I once came back from holiday to find my desk wrapped in toilet roll. And my chair. And my monitor.



    Even the damn pens and pencils!

    (Yes, and I know you read this!)

    I’m sure my face was a picture of "WTF?" when I first saw it.

  26. Steve says:

    I agree with Adhan, this would have been time better spent confronting the MBR ‘problem’ which MS seem to deny exists.


  27. Dan Shapiro says:

    There were at least two disco offices that I knew of. In the first one we put a lighting scaffold in his office, a full disco rig, a boombox ready to play, and wired the whole thing to a motion detector. When he walked in it all sprang to life. That was in ’97.

    The second one (and I think the one you were speaking of) was just after, probably in early ’98. The lighting was a little less involved, but there was a hardwood floor, a decent sound system, and an actual party.

    My favorite office prank, though, was in late 98…

  28. zzz says:

    Instead of wasting time with the MBR, how about doing something that benefits Everyone?

    I am talking about those dreaded list and combo boxes with hundreds lines, a perfect example can be found by trying to find performance counter to be added in the perfmon.exe. I’ve seen they are now trying to fix this issue in the latest builds, but it still seems way too crowded since now there is EVEN MORE COUNTERS and counter groups than before. They need to make it RESIZABLE/SCALABLE/SEARCHABLE or pop up a bigger list view automatically when trying to scroll a small list box with hundreds of items.

    Did I mention that needs to be done so it works in every application that has list/comboboxes? Not only perfmon.

  29. zzz says:

    Was reading mini-msft and this comment caught my eye.

    "If you look at a typical Microsoft product, it’s packed with blinking graphical ads, gradients, "chrome," Microsoft logos, and pop-up windows … It’s visually assaulting, and insulting. Meanwhile, a lot of aspects of the software are half-assed. Dialog box buttons that are confusing … List boxes designed for 640×480 that you can’t resize. Help articles that refer to menus and buttons that don’t exist. Programs that won’t close because you’re running other programs. You can just imagine yourself in the triage meetings where all these issues were discussed and dismissed because of the schedule, the risk, the bar, the usual."

    That is generalizing some, yet there is certainly truth in that when using MS software it often feels like some obvious issues are left to RTM and postponed until a better platform comes around fixing those issues but bringing bunch of new ones.

    I have a feeling that all the automated UI test cases will pass even if there are issues that one would notice very quickly – and if the product is in the "ask" or whatever mode, these kind of issues are automatically postponed for years easily.

  30. Michael Puff says:

    Everytime I heare such a story form Microsoft, I wonder whether they even work at Microsoft. On the other hand I understand why they never can keep the deadline. ;)

  31. dhiren says:

    Wow, I guess my manager, another developer and I shouldn’t have wasted 3 hours after work last Tuesday playing guitar then…

    How dare we even consider taking a break for even a second while there are bugs to fix! I bet my manager will get a stern talking to for not only condoning but participating in such frivolous activities.

  32. MBR says:

    I can vouch this is quite the tradition in Microsoft, including buying a pound of M&Ms for the team for each year you have been with Microsoft on your employment anniversary. Throughout the years I have been involved in or witnessed:

    – An office filled with packing peanuts

    – A office transformed into an outdoor camp site with a small lake (including live fish)

    – A mafia hit crime scene with body outline

    – A false wall installed in an office so the owner couldn’t even open the door.

    – An office filled with diapers (owner just came from maternity leave) of course they got to keep the diapers and didn’t need to buy diapers for a year.

    – An Aluminum office, everything was covered in Aluminum foil… everything.

    – A cube transformed into a big “dog house” when the owner came back from a honeymoon

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