Visual Studio CTPs

I’m working with a few other program managers in Visual Studio to figure out how Customer Tech Previews (CTPs) will work for the next version of Visual Studio (code name Orcas).

During the VS 2005 cycle, some customers really loved CTPs and other thought they were horrible and needed a higher quality bar.  The original intent of a CTP was to just pick a decent build and ship it.  Customers would then install it on a machine they would format later and just try it out.

As we should have known, people don’t like formatting their machines and our disclaimers of the CTP not being as good as a Beta were ignored.

We’re trying to eliminate some of those pains for Orcas.  If you have a specific pain point you want to let me know about, please add a comment.  Additionally, if there are other things about a CTP that you want us to do, let me know.  Some suggestions were to release more products (such as Pro and VSTS at the same time), better upgrade from CTP to CTP, etc.


Comments (9)

  1. hypermatt says:

    Having a clean uninstall process is number 1, one of my boxes go trashed by sql2005 beta(couldn’t install sqlserver 2000 even ;(), but eventually Microsoft had a downloadable uninstall tool that fixed everything.

  2. hskoglund says:

    Within the Orcas timeframe, more developers will have access to Intel Core Duo PCs. And as I’ve heard, such PCs will run Virtual PC almost at native speed.

    So perhaps another avenue of CTP distribution will then open: Microsoft supplies a complete, wholesale .vhd file as a download, containing a vanilla Vista/Longhorn with just the specific CTP installed. You’ll download, and wham, the CTP is up and running on your (virtual) PC.

    Ok, non-US developers will need to localize their keyboard, change the time from PST etc. in the new Virtual PC session. But that hassle is peanuts compared to current problems.

    The main problem is of course the Vista license inside the .vhd file. Maybe if you ship some late time-limited RC1 beta of Vista or so? Or if it’s possible to cripple it in some other way. Or, encrypt the .vhd to be downloaded, and write an installation program that verifies that the user has an existing Vista license before decrypting/installing the .vhd file.

    /Rgrds Henry (maybe I should’ve thought this through more before posting 🙂

  3. Dean Harding says:

    Yeah, I was going to suggest the .vhd-only method as well. You pretty much FORCE people to run them in a test environment that way. Also, given that Virtual Server is free ( – though I don’t know if that’s a permanent thing – it makes perfect sense!

  4. MSDN Archive says:

    – .vhd (for many reasons).  yes, that means less feedback on install/uninstall, but more feedback (hopefully) on the rest of the product.  Judging perf becomes more problematic, but doable.

    – make an automated process – each build that can be installed to make a vhd goes out (at least weekly), we want to drop the latency from checkin to external feedback

    – external build voting.  Treat it like slashdot comments, let lots of builds go out and people can vote on the quality of a given build (or particular features of a build, like uninstall, if they attempt that), so those that were turned off on Whidbey CTP’s can just deal with the "+5 Sucks Less" CTP’s of their choosing, where others can choose to run whatever build last escaped the build lab.

    – sshot-heavy easy-to-find (ideally a desktop link in the vhd) "new and noteworthy" page like eclipse milestones do (see

  5. Quan says:

    Thanks for the comments so far.

    We’ve thought about VPCs and may try shipping a CTP that way just to try it out.  Being part of the Setup team, it’s obviously not my primary choice as customers won’t be able to tell me how good/bad install/uninstall is 🙂

  6. Yes, I like the idea of having a VPC ready to use.

    But I hope the size of the VPC will be normal.

    Also, having a CTP on a CD or DVD is sometimes better if you want to install only some components


    Thomas LEBRUN

  7. Johan Myburgh says:

    I love the CTP concept but MS should better coordinate the releases thereof.

    At one point the SQL CTP and VS CTP where running on different versions of the CLR and that left us with only the VPC option.

    Can’t you allow us to upgrade to a new CTP?

    – Johan

  8. RDA says:

    I also like the VPC idea.  I have been using Virtual Server for awhile as my test bed for anything beta – by using the differencing disks strategy etc. it makes it easy to start over with a new build.  I find I just don’t work with the new stuff as much when I use a non-VPC to do it, as the time is considerable to start over even if it’s a machine I can readily trash.

    As for the concerns about setup testing: (1) People using VPC images will still be in the minority if you offer it, and (2) Setup testing should not be part of a CTP build – it should be part of a formal build.

    Maybe you don’t offer VPC’s for formal betas, then we are forced to install those (which is ok with me, as they come much less frequently and are higher quality).  But CTPs, which are more volatile, come on VPC images.

  9. SarekOfVulcan says:

    I’d like to add my vote for distributing CTPs as VHDs as well. I’d love to work with the newer stuff, but I can’t afford to risk my only machine on installs. Being able to run in Virtual PC would greatly increase the likelihood of my giving the feedback that’s being looked for in a CTP.