This BLOG post is a thank you to all the individuals who have read “How We Test Software at Microsoft,” and posted something on the web about it (that Alan, BJ and I been able to find that is). 


We are thrilled by the very positive response readers of HWTSaM have had.  There are several five star, four star, and even a ten out of ten reviews of the book.  If you’ve read the introduction to the book you know the lead author, Alan Page, didn’t originally feel the world needed yet another book on software testing but after a bit of reflection he saw how a book about Microsoft testing would be worth writing. 


We didn’t write HWTSaM to be the ultimate book on software testing but rather to be a good companion to the other excellent books that have come before it.  Regardless of the intended design, all three of us want the book to do well and for the first few months after the release we have been hovering over the Amazon rankings and scouring the Internet for comments and reviews.  Through all this activity we’ve learned a few things about promoting a book that make us a bit more educated but not experts.


1.      It pays to know your niche market and the popular bloggers

2.      Claiming our book and making an Author Pages on is cool but doesn’t drive sales.

3.      Climbing to #1 on  the New York Times Best Seller list or is not going to happen (today’s book was “Common Sense”)

4.      It is important to say thank you when someone praises your work

We have said thank you directly to most bloggers and reviewers but I wanted to collect a bunch of them together and say thanks in a more public forum such as this.


In the book I wrote or researched many of the sidebar stories so I thought it might be a good way to start this thank you blog with a personal story.


I call this one the “Perfect and Unexpected Plug.”


More than one hundred senior engineering managers and architects along with a few executives gathered this week to discuss some of the evolving ideas around Office 15 for a one day offsite focused on improving the Office engineering system.  One of the key elements of the meeting was to bring in new thinking from outside of the Office organization.  The first guest presenter was Mike Kelly who had been part of the Office organization before joining the Microsoft core engineering strategy team Engineering Excellence.  In his presentation he shared some really amazing prototypes of new collaboration and build system tools as well as some industry analysis.  The second presenter was Craig Fleischman, also a former Office manager who was now working on Windows.  Craig presented some of the plans the Windows team has for Windows 8.    


Right about now most readers are probably hoping I’ll spill some information about Windows 8 and Office 15 but sorry, I can’t do that.  All I can say is that while neither Windows 7 nor Office 14 have shipped, we are hard at work developing plans for the next versions.


Craig finally got to a slide about Windows 8 and services.  As this was an event focused on engineering systems rather than services and features he announced he would skip most of this slide.  It was a long slide that slowly built with three different sections and more than fifteen bullets.  Craig paused on the last bullet and simply said, “I don’t have time to go over this whole slide so I’ll just cover the last bullet.  Read chapter 14.”


I hadn’t actually been paying much attention.  That’s the problem with laptops and WiFi, it’s too easy to respond to the inbox.  Speaking of focus I should re-read Alan Pages’ recent blog posts on productivity and distractions.  Somehow I did hear skip the slide on services and “Read chapter 14.”


This caught my attention.  I paused and looked up.  All across the room multi-taskers were lifting their heads up from laptop screens and looking directly at Craig.  The whole room was actually engaged, wondering what Craig meant by “Read chapter 14.”


A nervous energy shot up my spine and a wide smile broke out across my face.  I suspected what this mysterious chapter 14 might be but I wasn’t certain enough to say anything.


 Craig attempted to move on to his next slide but of course he was interrupted.


“Chapter 14 of what,” someone yelled out.


This seemed to catch Craig off guard.  Of course everyone in Office knew about and must have read chapter 14 by now.  “You know the services chapter,” he said.  Blank eyes stared back at Craig. “Chapter 14 from Ken Johnston’s book,” he said. 


A little “yes,” escaped my lips.  I had been plugged!


Certainly I could not have asked for a better plug for one of my chapters in, “How We Test Software at Microsoft.”  Here we were in a gathering of the most senior engineers from across Microsoft Office, one of the most successful businesses in the history of Software.  Most of the attendees were not even testers, and now they were left wanting to know more about this mysterious chapter 14; the chapter 14 that Craig said must be read.  I don’t think one could plan a better hook than that!


Craig was able to continue to his last slide but the room still wanted to know more about this book and Chapter 14.  Fortunately I’d remembered one lesson from John Kremer’s book, “1001 ways to Market Your Books,” is that an author should always have a copy of their book on hand.  I had three and made them available in short order. 


During the break I came up to my friend and colleague Craig and jokingly asked who I should make the check out to.  Craig commented that he thought we needed a core set of reading for everyone who moves from software into services and this should be one of those.  Again this was high praise and I was thankful. 


The end of the “Perfect and Unexpected Plug.”


This experience reminded me to be thankful of all the blogs and reviews HWTSaM has received so far.  I know Alan, Bj and I read everyone and we always try to comment or contact the author to say thank you. 

What follows are excerpts from several blog postings and reviews of How We Test Software at Microsoft.  Most are linked to the official book site at


BLOGs and Book Reviews and Links:

·        Microsoft Press has been a great partner to work with.  Here is a portion of the Model Based Testing chapter with Graphics

·        Six Reviews on  Here’s just a couple of quotes (the nice ones):

o   Sally Foster “History buff” gave HWTSaM 5 out of 5 stars, “The writers are drawing from experience, they understand testing software, and more importantly, they understand how to position a tester, and a test team, for success. This book goes far beyond Kaner's "Testing Computer Software", and is a must for any software tester who is passionate about shipping quality pro ducts.”

o   Manfred Dietz gave us 4 out of 5 Stars, “So, why not 5 stars? Because you guys did not mention anything about metrics and its influence on our work and the results.”

·        Barnes & Noble has two five star reviews.  Boulderdash wrote “A best practice book, it is loaded with real life experience of the authors…” 

·        Asaf – Boulderdash Blog “Alan, Ken and Bj have divided the chapters authoring among them. Each has his own way of writing, although different in style, the final result is excellent. I highly recommend the book for all those who are into software testing”

·        Michael J. F. (SQA Blogs) “The excellent explanations of Equivalence Class Partitioning and Boundary Value Analysis are among the best I have ever read.”

·        The Evil Tester posted a review on Compendium Development  The first 2 chapters present Microsoft as a great company to work for, one that really values the testing staff and reads as the best recruitment literature for any company I've ever read.”

·        James Whittaker was one of the first to comment on HWTSaM back in January.  James has a new book coming out soon that we look forward to reviewing.  “…it will also be the year that I expose more insider details about testing culture and practice at Microsoft…Although, much of the thunder has already been aired by my colleagues in their new book How We Test Software at Microsoft. That book's a good read and a high bar for me to match when my own book comes out in a few months.”

·        Linda Wilkinson, Practical QA “This book grabbed me right away; it was a glimpse into the culture of a vast, complex, and interesting company with some challenges that are unique in the field. And after reading this book, I’m STILL fascinated”.

o   William Echlin commented, “..this is a book that on the face of it, I would not have attempted to read in a million years. Yet based on what you've said this in now somehwere near the top of my must read books.”

·        iTWire Book review by David M Williams “All in all, this is an impressive work with a great deal of wisdom and principles – underpinned by sound theory – that would be of interest to any company that produces software of reasonable complexity.”

·        Debra Martinez review on StickyMinds “This book has made its rounds in my testing department. There is not a day that goes by when I am not asked if I still have the book. I feel this book is great addition to any testing department”

·        Michael Hunter the Braidy Tester “HWTSAM is chockablock full of details regarding fundamental testing techniques, strategies, and processes which I believe every tester should be familiar with (even if you disagree with the utility of some of them).”

·        Kawal Banga  on BCS Book Reviews scored 10 out of 10, “More than a million test cases were written for Microsoft Office 2007 and the automated tests for many Microsoft products have more lines of code than the products they test… All in all, this is an excellent book, and should be on every tester's bookshelf.”

·        Phil Kirkham on Expected Results  I found it to be an excellent book, lots of tales from the trenches, explanations of the problems MS faces, how they try to overcome them - all intermingled with general testing theory.”

·        Javier Andres Caceres Alvis and his Windows Mobile, Testing & Multi-core programming group used HWTSaM for several group discussions. 


Thank you to everyone who has commented on HWTSaM whether positive or less.  For those that were less positive I’m sorry I didn’t include direct links to your comments but I know Alan, Bj and I have read and reflected upon them.  There are a few foreign language posting and a video podcast that I didn’t include in this article and I’m certain I missed some review somewhere.  My apologies.


Thank you all,

Technorati Profile KJ

Comments (1)
  1. Mack says:

    Writing a book is one thing selling it is something else.  This truth was taught to me in the school of hard knocks.  I help others with my lessons learned.

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