Upcoming Whidbey beta

Eeesh, more than a month since I last posted. 

I got feedback in the past couple days ago that while the community drops/more frequent builds are nice, what many people (especially non-MSDN subscribers) want is access to any build period.  The feedback is to work on that first, and more specifically to get our Whidbey beta out and give the public access to it. 

That is actually what we are doing right now.  The Whidbey beta is close - our mktg folks will announce it when the time comes but it's not far off.  There will be a public fulfillment mechanism - details will be part of the announce.  There are some other good things coming as well that will help address the pent-up demand among people who don't have it already.   

It's an interesting time that shows we haven't gotten the transparency thing totally mastered yet.  We still want the big press bang that comes with announcing a beta.  To get that it means that people like me have to be kind of cagey about what's going on.  I don't love it and I think in the long run we'll move towards being more open about schedules and status.  I've had a conversation with both Channel9 and our mktg team about tracking the beta2 ship push on Channel9 - publishing bug charts (big numbers!), talking about status, etc..  People are in favor of doing this even though it means people will be able to infer the beta2 release date pretty accurately long beforehand.  This idea came from looking at beta1 - we're doing better at being open with technical info and direction but for no good reason we have not been as open about dates/status.  Some of the other comments to my blog and elsewhere have pointed out specific examples of how this causes problems for people.  It's great to have good press buzz but you also want to keep enthusiastic customers enthusiastic by not making them guess so much. 

Comments (5)

  1. Nathan says:

    I think the transparency would be a Good Thing. Everything I’ve been reading online recently has something to do with Whidbey… "Oh look generics are awesome!", "How VS.Net 2005 will help you." etc. (I’m sure you know all of this 😉

    All we hear is that it will be great and that it is already shaping up really well.

    Me: "So when will I get ahold of it?"

    Available information: "Sometime after hell freezes over."


  2. Stuart says:

    I’m the person who gave the feedback a couple of days ago that seems to have triggered this post.

    First off, since I’m still getting used to the idea of the "new, transparent Microsoft" I have to say that I’m very impressed to get a direct response like this. It’s not at all what I’d learned to expect from Microsoft in the past, and it’s a VERY welcome change.

    One thing that may be reassuring to the people who are worrying that outsiders can deduce the release dates, and that will reduce the press buzz. The examples I’m about to give are, admittedly, Microsoft’s direct competitors so their names may or may not be well-received (I have no idea, obviously, what internal Microsoft feeling is about its competition) but regardless…

    Everyone who bothers to check publically-available information knows that Mono 1.0 is coming out very shortly; everyone also knew that Beta was on its way long before it happened. But the first Beta still obtained a LOT of press, presumably because nobody in the press was subscribed to Mono’s mailing list and tracking the development.

    Similarly, every new release of Mozilla Firefox gets significant press, even though the dates are planned well in advance on public mailing lists and *all* the bugs, bug counts, blocker lists etc are public. Again, the press doesn’t want to have to burrow into bug-tracking systems and mailing lists, so they wait for the press release.

    Thus, the new releases are still reported as "new news" by the press, even though interested parties have known the date for ages.

    Because there’s such a pent-up demand for information, it’s probably true that if someone inside MS revealed the date now, it would be all over the net within a few hours and some press would pick up on it. But if there were always a policy within Microsoft that it’s okay to discuss this stuff openly, the pent-up demand wouldn’t be there in future (interested parties would know that they could look on channel9 or asp.net for information at any time so there wouldn’t be this feeding frenzy around any new tidbit) and the press wouldn’t even notice. And then they’d pick up the MS press release as usual.

  3. MSDN Universal exists for a reason. If you can’t invest the money in such a program, do you really think you have a right to get angry when Microsoft doesn’t give you free access to pre-releases of upcoming code? Isn’t that why MSDN subscriptions exist? What benefit do I have as an MSDN Universal subscriber if you’re going to start giving it all away?

    Just curious. 😉

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