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For Microsoft Brainiacs, Home Was Building 5

August 25, 1995

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) _ David Cole celebrated the completion of Windows 95 in a fashion typical for a Microsoft manager: he thundered through the carpeted halls of Building 5 on his motorcycle.

Cole, at least, was able to restrain himself. Elsewhere, employees uprooted plants, splashed through a fountain and turned a nearby atrium into the setting for a gargantuan food fight.

The occasion was the day in July when Cole and other members of the Windows development team finished work on the new operating software in Building 5, their laboratory-home-away-from-home on the campus-like grounds of Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, a Seattle suburb.

``There was a lot of sheer ecstasy in the hallway that day,″ said Cole, the 33-year-old general manager of the Windows development team. ``There were also some people who were in disbelief because we were finally there. It was a very exciting time, to say the least.″

In keeping with its unorthodox corporate philosophy, Microsoft rewarded its employees by splurging on 170 bottles of Dom Perignon champagne and temporarily suspending the rules of managerial conduct. With the bubbly pouring faster than a digital modem, it took only a few hours before developers had turned the place upside down.

For the 400-member team responsible for Windows 95, July 14 was the end of a four-year endurance test that resulted in one of the most talked about pieces of software in the industry’s history.

``For about the last seven or eight months, it had just gotten grueling,″ said development manager Dennis Adler. ``We were all really frantic and really energetic.″

Upon reaching the finish line, others said they began to reflect on the significance of their accomplishment.

``After that long period of time it took to create Windows 95, it finally hit me that this will probably be the crowning achievement of my career,″ said 48-year-old Rick Waddell, a test manager.

But with the finished version of Windows 95, which hit store shelves on Thursday, the men and women responsible for the new software say they have had to adjust to a new reality.

Their work place has been silent since the day the program went ``golden.″ Most of the developers and managers who devoted huge chunks of their lives to the 10 million lines of computer code found in Windows have been awaiting their next assignment or vacationing.

``It’s really scary to think that, despite all the personal sacrifice, I think everyone on the team wants to do it again,″ Cole said.