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The First And Last Time I'll Ever Work For Steve Ballmer: The Friday Nooner (EST)!

Internal Microsoft Vista SP1 Video

I'll admit it: It's easy to point your finger and laugh at this video. It makes the executives that thought it up seem hopelessly out of touch, and it makes corporate culture look even more despicable than the "One Bank" U2 cover did last year. Come on - Bruce ServicePack and the Vista Street Band? "Rockin' Our Sales"? This video is bordering on self-parody, and I can't really blame anyone for making fun of it, but if you're going to laugh, at least give me a chance to explain how this happened.

I should know: I'm the one who made it.

I'd made a few internal corporate videos before. Nothing big or anything; I cut my teeth on Wendy's "Grill Skill", but I didn't really start getting any attention until Apple's "Black & Blue". That was when things really started to take off for me, but it was also when Steve Ballmer started calling me... constantly.

It was the fall of 2006, and I got a call from an unfamiliar number. I had already blocked Ballmer's home, office and cell numbers, but this time he was calling me from a payphone.

"Rossy, baby," he said. "I've got a cherry of a project for you. Our new product line is launching next-"

"I already told you, Ballmer, I'm not interested," I said. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to watch the series premiere of some new show called Heroes."

"We're prepared to offer you whatever you want," he said.

"Whatever I want?"

"Whatever you want."

There were problems from the get-go. The budget was too small, the shooting schedule was impossible, and I'm pretty sure the guy we cast as Bruce ServicePack was a junkie (I started getting suspicious when I walked into the bathroom and there he was, shooting heroin). I said I thought the saxophone solo was gratuitous; Ballmer said it was essential to hyping up the team. I said I thought the BitLocker superhero bit was hackneyed and tired; Ballmer said he had already promised the part to his down-on-his-luck nephew.

Then there was the catering... Christ, don't even get me started on the catering.

Ballmer fought me every inch of the way and turned the whole project into the watered-down, middle-of-the-road pile of garbage you see now. It was the first and last time I would ever work for Microsoft, but I'm not trying to dodge the bullet here. It's my fault this video exists, and for that I sincerely apologize to all of you.

And that, my friends, is the story of how I came to own a swimming pool filled with kittens.

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