Perhaps a bit of a random post today but I am thick into the beta lifestyle now. I'm currently running Windows Vista build 5472 (the latest public refresh) and Office build 4228 which is a post beta 2 interim build (beta 2 was 4017) . So time for an update.
In case you didn't know this - we have a philosophy at Microsoft for software development called "daily builds". This means that from the first day on a new product development project, an installable build of the product is created. Every day someone on the team is responsible for compiling the build from all the various components checked in by team members and creating a "build". This is assigned a number like 4228 and these increment each day. We also talk of "forking" the build tree which means we take a snapshot on one build and refine it for release for a milestone - like beta 2. In parallel though, we carry on working on the daily builds every day which form the basis of the next milestone release which will get forked in due course. This is why it isn't always 1 build number per day. Daily builds is a vital part of our approach to creating complex software which can be tested holistically rather than just via unit testing.
4228 is more stable, faster and looks a little cooler too but you will get to see that in due course..
I went to Vista 5472 to get the bug fixes since vista beta 2 (5384) and there are some good improvements there. Printing works for one thing! Of course Vista stability is dependant on good drivers from the manufacturers so it can sometimes be unfair to blame a problem on Windows entirely. I think this is part of the reason I still have some issues with dual monitors and projectors which Vista is still a little bit fussy about.
I also got Groove working again today after my account credentials seem to get corrupt.
One foot on the boat...
I think there comes a point (and this is my own wholly subjective opinion) where beta office is better on beta windows than on windows xp. Imagine the released products are like the river bank and the betas are a boat slowly moving away from the bank. In the beginning, you can mix betas and released products fine but there comes a point in the development where you feel you are doing the splits and its safer to jump entirely onto the boat - even though its a bit wobbly. My theory is that at least in between major milestones, the office developers are working to ensure their code works well on the latest stable Vista build as the priority. Of course at RTM, the backwards compatibility story is paramount too but in between milestones, I think it can be better to run beta office on beta windows than to run on windowsxp. Just my theory.
Joy and pain..
Working with betas is fun and ensures we understand our own products. The feedback helps us to improve the product too. There are good days where the magic of software enables me to jump tall buildings and sometimes i have what I call "bad technology hair days" where everything seems to crash or break. But its all part of the process to create the best software we can for you, beloved Office customer and so it is all worth while - I just have to remind myself of that in the buggy moments.