In 1993, Microsoft stole my colleague’s car


I remember walking between buildings at Microsoft back in the 1990's and seeing a moss-covered, rusted-out jalopy in one of the parking spaces. It clearly hadn't moved in ages. The person I was with said, "Oh, yeah, Microsoft owns that car. They stole it from Bob." (Bob is my generic name for a Microsoft employee.)

The Inaugural Day Storm of 1993 left felled trees and other wind damage in its wake on the Microsoft Redmond campus. One of my colleagues was out of town when the storm hit, and he returned to stories of fallen trees, wind damage, and howling winds.

Bob also returned to find that his car had been stolen out of the parking lot outside his building. (It was at the time a common practice to use Microsoft's parking lots as personal vehicle storage.)

Bob filed a stolen-car report with his insurance company and received his payment. As far as Bob was concerned, that was the end of that.

But that's not the whole story.

Right after the storm, the Facilities department set about cleaning up all the trees and branches and leaves that were strewn across the parking lots. They waited until after work hours so the parking lot would be empty, but that didn't work in one particular lot, because Bob's car was still there. To permit the cleanup to proceed, they towed the car to the far corner of the parking lot to get it out of the way.

Thus, when Bob returned from his trip, he found that his car was gone. It was actually not that far away, but this particular parking lot was nestled in a densely-wooded area, with the lot divided into sub-lots, each separated by a small stand of trees, so if you didn't know where to look, you could easily have missed the car.

This left the car sitting abandoned in a Microsoft parking lot. Technically, the car was owned by Bob's insurance company, and technically Microsoft stole it.

Pre-emptive snarky comment: "Wouldn't be the first time Microsoft stole something."

Comments (28)
  1. John says:

    The car lived happily ever after.

  2. <parody target="xpclient" style="tongue: in-cheek">

    Explorer in Vista makes it a lot harder to find where your car is.

    </parody>

  3. SimonRev says:

    @Lockwood

    LOL. I just had to explain to my coworkers why I barked a laugh.

  4. Matt says:

    Did Microsoft steal your soul too??? ;D

  5. No One says:

    I wonder if the insurance company ever demanded money from Microsoft afterward.

  6. Mordachai says:

    Love the preemptive snark.  And the parody snark.  :)

  7. ChuckOp says:

    "…but this particular parking lot was nestled in a densely-wooded area, with the lot divided into sub-lots, each separated by a small stand of trees…"

    Serving building 5 I suspect.

  8. Joshua Ganes says:

    So did Bob ever find out? I wonder what hoops he needed to jump through with the insurance company after all of that. The people want to know more.

  9. JM says:

    I fully expect the Internet to explode with reports of "MICRO THEFT AUTO: MICROSOFT EMPLOYEE BLOWS LID ON REDMOND CHOP SHOP SCANDAL"

  10. Rick C says:

    Surely the car's not still there; what eventually happened to it?

  11. Hmm… I wonder if Bob could/should go talk to the insurance company and un-file the claim?

  12. xpclient says:

    Lockwood, would you like to get banned from MSDN blogs? Because I can do that for you.

  13. prunoki says:

    So there was no rollback after? If not, it would seem logical for the insurance company to sell the car.

  14. snarky commenter says:

    "Wouldn't be the first time Microsoft stole something."

    Indeed. They stole Windows 8th start button :(

  15. alegr1 says:

    That rusted moss-covered car reminds me of Briefcase option in Explorer right click->New menu in Windows 7.

  16. Kyle says:

    @xpclient

    I have a feeling you have no such authority or pull…otherwise all of your complaints about features lost since XP wouldn't have fallen on deaf ears.

  17. Note that the comment allegedly posted by xpclient appears to have been posted anonymously.  Compare, for example, the comment posted here blogs.msdn.com/…/windows-virtual-pc-hotfix-for-amd-bulldozer-processors.aspx where "xpclient" is a link to that user's profile.

    I suppose it's possible that xpclient really posted both comments but was not signed in, but it's also possible that someone who was not xpclient was putting words in xpclient's mouth.

  18. xpclient says:

    For example, like this — Maurits [MSFT]

  19. @Lockwood:  bahahahaha, I love it!!

    I wonder why someone didn't think to check with property owners to see if the car had been towed, before paying out thousands of dollars in claims?  (Or was this a part missing in the story?)

  20. DWalker says:

    The headline needs to be a crash blossom, although I'm not that good at writing them.

    Something like "Microsoft tree parking lot chop shop weather disaster car fence"

  21. Hey Neighbor says:

    If a car goes unregistered in the state of Washington, the property owner can have it declared abandoned property and junked. This nearly happened to my own car after a little more than a year. I'm surprised Bob's car sat long enough to gather moss.

  22. Bing Search says:

    Did you mean: In 1993, [competing search company] stole my colleague's car?

  23. voo says:

    @Maurits See eg blogs.msdn.com/…/10281708.aspx or blogs.msdn.com/…/10278049.aspx for some examples where xpclient also didn't log in (he did log in in the third article I found though). Seems he just doesn't log in reliably. Or there really are several xpclients at work.

    Also: I found out my psychic "finding xpclient posts" skills are enormous – well or he's just really repetitive (but me having psychic powers sounds better :( )

  24. cheong00 says:

    It could have been better if they post a notice about towed car near that parking lot. That'd save the trouble for the parties.

  25. Programmerman says:

    I misread the "Inaugural Day Storm of 1993" as the "1st Annual Day Storm of 1993" and was confused. Then I clicked the link and went "OOOOOHHHHH." :)

  26. Anonymous says:

    I worked at Microsoft as recently as last fall (gave up my blue badge in October, sorry guys).  Anyway, I can report that although I was not an old-timer like Raymond and his cohort, I did use a Microsoft garage as personal vehicle storage for 6 months in 2010 (with expired plates no less), and had a co-worker who did the same for much longer.

  27. Chris Walker says:

    In the 1993 storm, a tree fell across a Camero in front of building 2 from front to back.  During the cleanup, they cut off the front and back of the tree, but left something like 15' still on the car.  Rumor has it they did this so the insurance company would see what caused the damage.  It took another three weeks to get the car towed and I assume repaired.

  28. Chris Walker says:

    In the 1993 storm, the Windows NT group had an all-hands meeting scheduled in a building across campus at 10am.  The storm hit and the meeting was cancelled.  Security came around and told us to get out of window offices. (They didn't want to tell us that a tree an fallen thru a window office in the building.  I wonder why)  But no one cancelled the Pizza order, so around 10:30am a pizza truck pulled up in front of building 2 and the driver came inside to ask what to do with the Pizza.  While this was happening, a tree fell across the truck!  And what did people do?  A bunch of devs rushed out to rescue the pizzas.  That was an interesting choice.  If memory serves me, there was no beer probably because it was a morning meeting.  

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