I think by now, everyone knows that Microsoft’s headquarters is in Redmond, Washington. But did you know that if you live in the Redmond area, you can get free stuff from Microsoft? I learned about it from a friend over lunch the other day, who mentioned the Microsoft Usability Study Program. He said all I needed to do was visit the Microsoft web site and signup as a potential participant. Microsoft routinely selects people from various demographics to help get feedback on software, applications, and hardware. I was told it usually takes from 1-2 hours on the Microsoft campus, where they have an assigned Microsoft person ask you a series of questions regarding a product or hardware. When you’re finished, they compensate you for your time by giving you a coupon good for an item sold at the Microsoft company store. Software such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Office 2007, and full Software Development kits are available, along with hardware such as mice and keyboards. I’m not sure if Zunes are included as available items, but you never know since MS-Project goes for $500 and some of the Software Development kits go for $1200.
In any case, I decided to try my friend’s suggestion and filled out the online form at Microsoft’s web site and signed up for the program. I was expecting to hear back from Microsoft within the next 6 months or so when my demographic information fit a desired profile. So guess what happened? The day after I fill out the online form, I get a message on my answering machine from Microsoft asking for me to call them back about a usability survey they want me to possibly particpate in! Apparently, my responses were placed in database and a keyword search they did matched my profile.
I called Microsoft back and answered a few more detailed questions over the phone, and they said they would call me back if the product leader wanted my feedback for the survey. So, cross your fingers and we’ll see if I get selected for this round.
[Update (14 Feb 08)]: Well, I was selected for this survey (which begins next week), so stay tuned as I’ll post my experiences on the mother planet Microsoft!