So last year, LisaB rolled out the "myMicrosoft" initiative, and over the last year the various improvements have been rolled out (I don't even like coffee but man those machines make goooooood hot chocolate), including upgrades to many of our conference rooms. In these new conference rooms we got fancy new projectors (no more screwing around with the darned output to some random TV![1]), new tables, and they changed the wall covering. Where many individual conf rooms used to have 3 walls of whiteboards on it (soooooo handy), now they have one whiteboard, one blank wall (for projection) and one brown fabric-covered wall.

When the rooms were finished and I attended various meetings in the new rooms, the conversation would invariably start out with some wonderment about what was the point of the brown fabric wall. The best scenario anyone came up with was that it was to be used for pinning up notes, hardly a common use case. So we thought about occam's razor and realized that ah-ha, the problem is just that the facilities people are dumb and they didn't realize we liked having so many white boards! Satisfied with the knowledge that we were on the top of the evolutionary heap, we went about our way.

Then, an enterprising coworker decided to actually investigate instead of assume, and eventually made his way to the right person in facilities who informed him that actually the reason for removing the multiple whiteboards was for acoustics - we are an increasingly global workforce and many meeting attendees aren't located in Redmond, so LiveMeeting conferences are becoming increasingly common.

Oops. Um... That's a pretty good reason, turns out.

It was an interesting experience to be on the user side of things this time, to assume I knew what the intention was behind a certain decision, and then to find out I was flat-out wrong. It also reminded me of the story I told a month ago. As I gradually explore Vista on my laptop (I've only been using it a few months, was late to that game) I find myself making quick judgment calls "agh! They are so stupid to remove that feature!"... and then backing up to try and figure out if I can discern other reasons they might have made a certain decision. It's an interesting thought exercise sometimes. 

[1] we can screw around with the output to a fancy new projector!