"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do." - Henry Ford
With Tech·Ed USA 2004 rapidly receding in the rearview mirror, Visual Studio Team System is finally starting to feel like a real product to me.
Prior to Tech·Ed, only a handful of people outside of the product team knew anything about Team System. As such, we had the luxury of making mistakes without facing public ridicule and the powers that be had the luxury of pulling the plug on the project without providing PR spin. It would just be tossed on to the scrap heap of failed projects that never saw the light of day and the team would disperse to work on other projects.
Visual Studio Team System has been in the works for a long time - at least as long as I've been at Microsoft (5 years) from what I've heard. By going public now, many people view Team System as a response to IBM's acquisition of Rational in late 2002, early 2003. Had Microsoft gone public when this project was conceived, the opposite might be true. However, had we gone public with just a vision the level of skepticism would've been significant.
Microsoft has a great reputation for building productive, usable developer tools (IntelliSense anyone?). We have yet to prove we can do the same for the entire software development team. The demonstrations at Tech·Ed showed what we're trying to accomplish. The overwhelming feedback we received at Tech·Ed indicated to us that we're heading in the right direction. We just need to stay the course and deliver a great v1.
However, when I stop to consider everything that needs to happen before we can ship (especially when it comes to documentation, which is my area), I'm reminded of an old Disney short film that I saw thirty years ago in elementary school titled, Johnny Appleseed. In that film there was a song (The Apple Song) that finishes with a lyric I can't get out of my head just now, "There's a lot of work out there to do. There's a lot of work to do."