Much of the development work at Microsoft is a mystery to the rest of the world. People ask me all the time why my team is working on X, when clearly what is needed is Y. Of course, everyone’s definition of Y seems to be different, but that’s another matter entirely!
So I thought I would shed some light on what we’re doing. A very long time before each release, Marketing, Field representatives and Management looks at lots of data – from your suggestions, what the industry pundits say, field research and more, and decide on general “themes” we will have in the next release. It isn’t a matter of thinking up single features or changes to the product, it’s a cohesive direction we all want to go. They transmit that down through the various teams working on the features of the system, and so on down to the Program Managers (like me). We then take that info and start working on bugs, enhancements and features that match that direction.
So are these themes a big secret? No! You can see them, and you can also see how each “improvement” we make the system lines up with the direction. We keep it all out in the open, right here: https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/content/content.aspx?ContentID=5470&wa=wsignin1.0
Another neat thing about that site is that you can click on any new improvement to learn more about it.