We finally have a name. Last time I blogged about the future of SourceSafe, I had to constantly refer to "the next servicing release." No more. That next release will officially be a "GDR" -- and it's coming sooner than you think.
Some brief history on Developer Division nomenclature. Hotfixes are one-off solutions to a specific problem: they are tested briefly, then given directly to customers. A knowledge base article is written to document their existence, but the hotfix itself is not posted publicly; customers must call support to receive them. They are not normally cumulative. (We make VSS hotfixes cumulative since redeploying the whole product only takes about about 4MB. Wouldn't work for Visual Studio, obviously.) Service packs contain a large number of fixes. They are tested very thoroughly by the entire QA organization across our entire matrix of configurations; they receive a full security review; they are localized into every language we support; and so on. SPs are posted on the main MS download page where anyone can get them instantly. They are always cumulative.
A GDR is somewhere in between. They typically contain one large fix, or several related fixes, and receive a moderate amount of testing. As it turns out, our GDR will contain a lot of fixes -- more than some SPs. I hope to share the list with you shortly. It will probably be posted on Connect: anyone can download it, but they must first register with the website (via Passport) so that downloads can be tracked. We're also investigating whether we can leverage Microsoft Update for broader visibility.
Given that background, I'm happy to report that the DevDiv release team accepted our bid to distribute in GDR form. Sorry to add yet another TLA to your vocabulary. On the bright side, what this means is that we can deliver a very broad range of fixes to you without much of the overhead that accompanies a SP. (Those of you who waited...and waited...for Whidbey SP1 know what I mean.) We don't have the resources to commit that kind of effort to SourceSafe.
At the same time, we do want to continue raising the quality of the product. It will be tested across five core languages: Japanese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. It will be supported on all platforms, including Vista and Orcas, giving a high priority to compatibility issues. Best of all, it will be released early and often for your feedback, as promised. The volunteer testing program described therein is already underway. If all goes well, we'll release a CTP in just a few weeks! (English only) As for the final release, I'm going to keep the goalposts at "later this year" for now 🙂