Microsoft @25

InsideOut celebrates thinkers, idealists, inventors, artists and creators that have made up every division of Microsoft over the first 25 years.


Waltzing with the 800-Pound Gorilla
  • Client:

    Microsoft Corporation
  • Audience:

    Employees, Recruiting, Vendors, General Public
  • Mediums:

    Printed Book, Website, Photography, Archive Interviews, HR/PR Materials

Creative Director Michael Hilliard and his team were responsible for the book’s vivid and engaging design. The design team... worked long and hard to assemble all the pieces of the book and bring [Microsoft's history] to life.

Kelli Jerome, Microsoft Project Manager
Acknowledgments from InsideOut: Microsoft, in Our Own Words

InsideOut: Microsoft – In Our Own Words, a warts-and-all perspective of the company's first quarter-century was commissioned to satisfy three needs: Commemorate the anniversary for 45,000 employees attending the annual company event; offer some of Bill's rub-off to millions wanting a bit of his success; and, create materials for recruiting, archiving and marketing.

  • The corporate personality was far less important than creating portraits of individuals who make great things happen inside the company and out in the real world. Our result: a beautiful coffee table book capturing innovation, inspiration, and imagination that embody the world’s greatest software company.

Cover and interior spreads from the international version of InsideOut


A favorite client at Microsoft (we’d worked on Bill Gates’ book, The Road Ahead a few years before) wanted to celebrate the 25th anniversary with something more compelling than t-shirts and keychains. Together we assembled and pitched the concept of telling Microsoft's life story through the mouths of the employees.

Microsoft had never authorized a book, and those published usually fell into venomous attacks or simpering praise — neither really got to the soul of the company. We explored and divided it into themed sections representing different concepts in an intimate, personal way. Conceptually a series of magazines.

The "Venus" internet-ready device developed by Microsoft Research is driven through the streets of Beijing.


Our graphic approach was easy; but collecting stories, finding the right people to tell them individually and still have them thread together into a larger collection, that was tough. In all, 800 people were interviewed, half photographed in context to their stories, and all were edited to keep their words in the first-person. It was important to maintain an unbranded voice for the employees (and graphics, photography, and type) to ensure the authenticity of the stories.


Our end product weighed-in at six pounds, 15 months and 328 pages (it would’ve kept growing but we stopped the client from adding pages on the flight to the press-check).

Three primary goals were successfully met: the book was delivered to the 45K employees (each listed in 2 point type in the end-papers), copies were printed domestically and abroad for bookstores, and we’re still seeing some of the images in Microsoft’s materials years later.

Perhaps the most lasting benefit was getting to know every facet of the company from inside-out, and being able to tell stories about chasing Madagascar hissing cockroaches around a sound stage during a photoshoot...