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My Experience Covering Microsoft’s Open House!

This weekend I got the amazing opportunity to cover Microsoft’s second annual Open House for Her Campus! I attended the event, held Monday in New York at a pretty awesome warehouse-turned-event space http://www.center548.com/photos.html, along with 8 other student journalists from across the country. We all stayed at a really cool hotel in the Garment District from Sunday-Tuesday—since the Open House was only on Monday that gave us a lot of time to get to know each other and have fun!
On Sunday night we all ate dinner at the hotel with our advisors, members of the Microsoft Education Task Force. I had something called a “chicken burger salad”—basically a flattened chicken patty with the salad part on top…different, but delicious!
The next day we had to get up at the crack of dawn—well, the crack of 8 am—for a press conference announcing the launch of Windows Phone 7. We heard an opening speech from Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, about the new phone Microsoft is coming out with this fall. Then we saw a preview of the phones AT&T is releasing with the Windows Phone 7 system. What’s really cool about Windows Phone 7 is you’re not bound to one kind of phone, like with the iPhone—if you want a phone with a keyboard, for instance, there’s a Windows Phone 7 model with a keyboard that slides out, or if you’re into watching videos on your phone, there’s a model with really crazy Dolby surround-sound speakers. After that we saw a demo of the Windows Phone 7 system—it has all these awesome features, like customizable “tiles” for your apps on your home screen, “hubs” for your social networks and contacts, music and video, and email, and even a portal for Microsoft Office right on your phone (imagine writing papers on your phone with Microsoft Word!).  The phone is totally customizable, not to mention cool-looking. They come out on November 8—find out more info here.
After the press conference we got a quick chance to play with the Windows Phone 7’s before heading to lunch with the Overseas Press Corps, a group of seasoned journalists. At our table was seated Alan Dodds Frank, a reporter for the Daily Beast who has worked as a journalist all over the world, both in TV journalism and in magazines.
 I unfortunately had to skip dessert though, because me and two other students got the opportunity to interview Steve Ballmer (Microsoft’s CEO)! I’ll write more about that in another post, but here I’ll just say it was a really great experience and an awesome chance to meet someone so high up in the tech and business world.
 After our interview, it was time for the Microsoft Open House, which basically constituted testing out all of Microsoft’s products and learning about their software, hardware, and new innovations for 2010. We got to play around with Windows Phones, Microsoft Office, Windows Live (Microsoft’s web-apps system, social network/picture/email organizer, messenger portal… basically everything you need in one hub—get it here , and some really cool new webcams, but by far the most fun part of the open house was trying out Microsoft’s new gaming system, Kinect for XBox 360, which is like the Wii but even more innovative–you use your body as the controller, and the system picks up on your movements. There’s a dance game on Kinect 
that I fully expect to become the new DDR within a year. I really need some practice though—I hope not many people saw me make a total fool of myself to “Poker Face”!
After the open house, we all went home to change and chill out after a long day, then at 7 pm it was back to the event space for a party—basically the same thing as earlier that day, except with an open bar (and SERIOUSLY hot waiters—wow.) We had a great time socializing, meeting people, and playing with the products some more, and then after a few hours we headed to the after-party: an art installation in SoHo, in what used to be a Catholic School—the Roots were playing. After a few hours of dancing with a bunch of hipsters in fedoras and grandpa glasses, we stopped for pizza and headed back to the hotel, and made our way back from the city the next morning.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience—I got to meet lots of journalists and Microsoft representatives, and I really did learn a lot about what’s new in the world of computers. Plus, I had a great time with the other students! 

Amanda First is a senior English major at Cornell University.  She is Life Editor of Her Campus, as well as founding editor of Her Campus Cornell. She has interned for Cornell Alumni Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and Parents through ASME's internship program.  Some of her favorite things include high heels, browsing ShopBop, yoga, The O.C. reruns (but only before Marissa dies), and Tasti D-Lite. After college, she hopes to pursue a career in magazine journalism.