Frustration over Whidbey Slip

Friday, March 12, 2004 4:06 AM

MS’s Robert Scoble goes on about the reason why Whidbey & Yukon slipped… interesting read and follow-up to my initial post about the slip.  I’m still not happy they are delayed, but it’s better than getting a half-ass product or something that isn’t really tight.

Martin Spedding: All these product delays are making it harder to sell .NET to businesses.

I see a lot of frustration on the .NET weblogs today (there are a series of stories that the ship date of Visual Studio .NET codename Whidbey has slipped). I’m frustrated too. I’ve been interviewing people over on the Whidbey teams and they are frustrated too.

Why? Developers want to see their work used. Many of the people who are working on Whidbey have been doing so for years. They want to see you get the benefits of their work. Imagine being a photographer and having to keep the photos you shoot today secret for another year.

Anyway, the last time I tried playing PR guy, I lost credibility with my readers. So, let me talk from my perspective and heck with the PR spin.

Whenever you see a slip and a bunch of rumors, first thing to remember is you’re probably not getting the whole story. How could you? Even Mary Jo Foley probably only talks with a few dozen people every week (and that’s probably in a busy week) I am interviewing lots of people over in the Whidbey and Longhorn groups this month and every interview I do I learn something more about why dates and strategies shift. Almost always the answer is: the quality isn’t good enough.

One of the things is that weblogs are changing how teams think. They see the concerns over product quality, feature set, and security and so team leads are trying to raise the bar in those two areas. It’ll be interesting to see how they react to the frustrations shown today.

The idea that Whidbey is being slipped just because it needs to tie up with Yukon isn’t wholly correct, but what if it were? Whidbey (next version of Visual Studio and the .NET framework) being tied to Yukon (next version of SQL Server) is pretty darn interesting. Why? For that you need to understand how Microsoft is organized internally. These are like two separate companies getting together on a single project.

By having the Yukon team using Whidbey technology inside SQL Server that forces the .NET team and the SQL Team to work together to really make sure that .NET is high performance, secure, and does a hell of a lot of work (marketing dweebs like me call that “robust”).

So, do you want something that the Yukon team has worked on, tested, and improved? Damn straight you do. Do you want an interim build between now and then? Yeah, but at what cost? And I’m not talking money here.

Today I walked around parts of Microsoft’s campus. It’s a pretty big place. But, you still get the sense that there’s a finite resource here: people. It takes me 10 minutes or so to walk from one end of campus to the next. Inside each of the buildings I walk past is another team, working on another project (actually, most buildings hold several different teams). If you want releases faster, then the test teams need to be taken off of what they were doing, and test the interim releases. Same for other human resources.

So, if you want us to ship more often, you are asking us to ship lower-quality stuff. It’s just human. There’s only so much testing one human can do in a day (and, keep in mind that even though we have tons of computers running tests 24-hours-a-day a human still needs to fix the problems found). There’s only so much testing that can be done. Only so many bugs that can be fixed in a day.

Anyway, I’m frustrated too. I wish Microsoft were run more like a startup, but startups don’t have to meet the quality bar that customers expect now from us. Translation: if it ain’t good enough for the SQL Server team, it ain’t good enough for you yet either.

Any press folks who want the official PR story? The PR folks here would be happy to talk about this stuff (just drop me a line at [email protected] and I’ll introduce you). I just wanted to acknowledge the frustration I’m seeing on the various blogs out there.


[Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]

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