So It Really Is a "Series of Tubes"

It looks like the cavernous belly of a massive cruise ship, or a "level" in the real-life horror video game that is CERN. In reality, there's a good chance you use these tubes—which belong to Microsoft—every single day.

What you're seeing is a tiny section of the 7.5 miles of cooling pipes inside Microsoft's new 700,000-foot Chicago data center, which is one of the—if not the—largest in the world.

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It's a mesmerizing place, simultaneously industrio-scary and dreamy, eerily glowing and searingly lit. But for all the painted piping, shimmering server racks and retro-futuristic control panels, the blood running through this place's veins couldn't be more benign: we're talking Windows Live Mail, My Phone, and Messenger; WGA activation servers and Windows Update; Windows Live Office, Xbox Live and Azure, but interestingly, not Sidekick.

And amazingly massive as it is, data centers like this are the undeniable future of the biggest names in tech. Where do you think the Google searches come from? The iTunes music? The Xbox Live games? Full gallery at [CNET]