In my previous post, I introduced myself as a Release PM for the Expression Studio suite of products. Some of you may be wondering what a Release PM does. Before I get into that, to give you some background about me, I’ve been at Microsoft for over 13 years. I first started as a tester, then spent 8 years as a developer on Publisher and Movie Maker, and then spent 5 years as a Program Manager (PM). As a PM, I had the responsibility for designing the features that developers would then code. A large part of that involved managing the schedule and progress towards releasing the finished product. Towards the end of that role, I started doing release management, which is focused on integrating the various parts of products together (Windows Vista, in my case) and driving the team towards completion. This also involves completing all of the legal and corporate-mandated requirements necessary to ship a product to you!
That is my job here in Expression land – working with the various teams to get all of our software releases out the door in a timely manner and communicating with the various teams: product development, test, program management, marketing, operations, website management, localization, international subsidiaries, etc. It’s a great job that permits me to work with lots of different people while drawing on my experience with actually shipping products for many years. More importantly, I also get to to learn new aspects of the business that I haven’t been exposed to before.
Blend 2 December Preview
So our most recent release was the Blend 2 December Preview. After the product team completed their work on the setup package (known as an MSI), they hand it off to me to get it released. That means coordinating with the editors to get the Microsoft Download Center website text written, getting the package through a gauntlet of automated tools for verifying the package is safe to release (virus checkers, etc.) and getting the Expression website content up to date.
To give a more specific example in the context of the newly released Blend 2 December Preview, part of release management involves coordinating the web site content so that you all can actually download our latest preview. The coordination matters because the download center uses different servers than the Expression website. If we want them to go live at the same time we have to pull all of the levers together. Even then, propagation across the servers around the world takes time, and sometimes things can get a little out of sync. Knowing how to deal with some of these delays helps ensure everything related to the release goes smoothly.
If you like doing different things every day, fighting fires, working with people, helping to shape processes and policy, Release Program Management may be the job for you! Hopefully this post gives you a brief idea of what a Release PM does, and feel free to comment below if you have any further questions.