My own little piece of Microsoft history

One of the first jobs I had at Microsoft in 1998 was helping run Outlook's interoperability lab where we tested against a variety of different servers - POP, IMAP, LDAP, cert servers, etc. One of the certificate servers we had running IIS 4.0 was named “Passport”.

Shortly thereafter, we received an email from a Very Important Person telling us that Bill wanted that machine name for this new thing happening and we had to give it up. We agreed to do this (which was a pain, because it meant reinstalling the cert server since you can't just rename the machine once cert services have been installed), and so I named the machine Retsyn instead.

A lot of folks at Microsoft have their own stories about “the time they rode up in the elevator with Bill” and whatnot[1], but I like this little memory even more. If not for me, passport might have been named something else! Just kiddin'.

[1] I did once, and a woman carrying a huge stuffed gorilla got on the elevator with us, and Bill chatted with her during the ride. That image still cracks me up, but I must admit that I am pretty easily amused.

Comments (4)

  1. Adam Field says:

    Maybe this is a stupid question but why was she carrying a stuffed gorilla?

  2. KC Lemson says:

    I am guessing it was a birthday/newbaby/marriage/etc gift for someone in the building or something like that. I didn’t want to interrupt their chatter to ask 🙂

  3. adam says:


    I met Bill once when I was in Redmond but it was in a cafeteria and there were definitely no stuffed gorillas 😉

  4. James Edelen says:

    Haha, that is a great story.

    I was quite lucky to meet Bill when I was interning in Building 34 over the summer. I was walking down the hall in my own little world thinking about the project I was working on while walking back to my office and almost ran smack into him. I stopped just short of hitting him and realized it was Bill and had to introduce myself. I can only imagine what would have happened if I had actually bumped into him.

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