One complaint that we've heard fairly frequently is that the p&p team isn't transparent enough on what we're working on, when new releases will be available, and what we're not currently working on. Not having this information can result in teams spending time solving problems that are already addressed in new or upcoming p&p deliverables, or sometimes it can result in teams not solving problems under the assumption that p&p is working on something similar, when in fact we're not.
We like to pride ourselves on being one of the most transparent groups at Microsoft, and for the last couple of years we have been very open about the details of our development plan - so we had to spend some time figuring out what the issue was and how we could best address it. One challenge is that our planning and release cycles tend to be much shorter than other product teams, and we are set up to be able to change course and invest in new areas without a lot of lead time. Hopefully this is a good thing in terms of our ability to produce relevant deliverables sooner, however we realize that such rapid changes are not always easy to follow from outside the fortress.
Another issue is that our communication channels tend to be very distributed. Our official MSDN site is primarily used for information about shipped deliverables, and information about up and coming releases is usually spread out over our community sites, several different blogs, webcasts and events. So even if we have have published interesting details on what we're up to, you can certainly be forgiven for not finding it all of the time.
To get around this, we've just launched a new page on our MSDN site called "Upcoming Releases". This page is linked from the left-hand navigation bar on all pages under the p&p Development Center. It includes a list of all of the major deliverables we are working on, an indication of when the next version should be released, and links to find out more detailed information. It also includes a list of all of the key deliverables which we are not currently investing in.
The idea of this page is give you "one stop shopping" about our development plan, at least at a high level. It won't replace the more detailed information available on our community sites or blogs. Of course, our development plan is always changing, and the list of deliverables and dates is subject to change over time. We'll do our best to keep this page up-to-date as our plans change.
We hope this page will make it easier for you to plan your own projects to get the most benefit out of patterns & practices. If you have any suggestions on how we can give you even more visibility into our processes and roadmap, you know how to find me 🙂