Tech-Ed Notes on Community Tech Previews

Again, some raw quotes and what I think I heard at Tech-Ed. This time about the community tech previews.

  • “ I love them”  

  • “I have no problems if they don’t run well, you disclaim them just fine”

  • “I prefer the downloads because I can still get them before the DVDs arrive”

  • “Even if they only run well enough to see 25% they are still worth it”

  • “The downloads are currently slow, but the MSDN download manager works well”

  • “I would be willing to install a separate download application that used bit torrent technology”

  • ”I would not be willing to pay for faster downloads”

  • “Bit Torrents would probably be faster”

  • “Could we get them more frequently?”

  • “Your one week scenario (Report a bug Monday, hear back by Tuesday, see that its fixed Thursday, and download the new build Friday to try it out) would be too fast for most customers. But I’d love to see you pull it off. “ 

  • “They are great to let us know what’s coming so we aren’t as surprised or disappointed when the final release comes out”

Of all the things gathered information on I probably got the least feedback on the topic of the Community Tech Previews for Visual Studio.  One item that is not captured in quotes is that it would be MUCH MUCH better if users could use the developer tools to target more stable frameworks.  Unfortunately our tools are tied to the framework at the moment. Eclipse was held up as an example of how any build of eclipse could easily be used for real development on existing projects that hit any version of the Java runtime. 

The second big pain point was on the issue of distribution.  We need a faster, more scalable, solution for users that want to play with our builds more frequently. Most people agreed that they would be willing to support a P2P distribution model, but not a pay-for download model that they perceive the current MSDN subscriber limitation as.  The third pain point is the install process. Its too long and old builds don't uninstall. 

In general people didn't mind if the builds were very broken IF they were able to identify what worked and didn't work before they went through the lengthy download/install process. 

There was laughing when I explained the one week bug report -> using a fixed build scenario, but in a good way I think.   I see that as a challenge.  

Comments (10)

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  1. Here’s a big one that bothers me about all the MSDN downloads.

    Why on earth do you distribute in a format that your own OS can’t understand?

    This isn’t so much a suggestion to use something other than ISOs as it is a lament on the fact that a supposedly modern OS can’t understand a format that, for example, Linux has supported out-of-the-box for about 10 years (I remember mounting ISOs being cited as a workaround to the fact that hardly any computers actually had CD-ROM drives). Having said that, it took Windows over 10 years to get support for zip, too, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    But at least you guys could consider linking to a simple shell extension that provides ISO support in the same way that XP provides zip support out of the box, along with a "burn to disk" option in the right-click menu. This is basic functionality for the file format and we shouldn’t have to go to third-party (and non-free) products from manufacturers who’s reputations we have no way to evaluate just to use the downloads.

    It’s strange to be pointing out how poor Windows usability is from a Linux user’s perspective, but seriously, Windows is WAY behind the times here…

  2. MSDNArchive says:

    Thanks for the comment stuart. Part of the reason for me posting these feedback items is to collect more feedback on issues like the one you describe in order to make a case for some changes.


  3. I attended Tech-Ed for the first time this year. My mission was to talk to as many people as possible…

  4. Gavin Greig says:

    Not really directly relevant to MSDN downloads, but I thought I’d mention it as it’s similar to Stuart’s point about ISO drive images: a colleague of mine gets very frustrated when he can’t mount a Virtual PC drive on his (real) PC at work, something he’s used to being able to do with the same Virtual PC drives on his Mac at home. It just seems to be a difference between the capabilities of Virtual PC for MacOS and Virtual PC for Windows.

  5. Ian Ringrose says:

    Having the builds as preinstalled virtual PC images would be good. Even better if there was a free version of virtual PC that could only use those images.

    Set up the images so ALL my data is saved in a folder on the "host OS" so I don’t loose anything if the images crushes.

    Sort out the legal bit so anyone an save a image to a DVD and give it to anyone else. What about letting azonizon sell DVDs with the CTP on them?

  6. MSDNArchive says:

    Ian: What about the fact that the download would have to be much bigger than it is today if we were to ship VPC images? Would you still be willing to connect up and wait?

    I agree wrt the legal issues. I’d like to see us open the door for customer driven distribution of the CTP bits.

  7. Robbie says:

    I was thinking the same thing the other day "woulbn’t it be good if we could get these on VPC images" I think if you could have the option of both installer and VPC to give end users the option you would solve the size issue, to me the size of the downloads is not a issue due to the download manager.

    One thing I hoped was the the Hands on Labs at Teched would be on VPC so I could get ahold if them, as I nevr had time to do all the ones I wanted.

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