Getting out talking to all these user’s groups in a lot of ways brought me back to the early days of .NET when everything we were doing was cutting edge and exciting. In October of 2000, when .NET was still very new we were overwhelmed with feedback about the lack of deterministic finalization in the platform. We knew there would be issues around deterministic finalization from the very first meetings we had about what would later become the CLR where we debated using a refcounting model (a la COM\VB) or a GC model (a la SmallTalk, Lisp, Java). But even we were surprised by the quantity and quality of the debate around this topic.
Brian Harry, who at the time was the product unit manager for the CLR team took a personal interest in the topic. He spent a ton of time talking to folks across the company and in the community to validate our position, consider options and formulate a plan. The end result was a message to the DevelopMentor discussion alias which (at the time) was the happening place to talk about .NET.
While the message clearly provided information and technical background\tradeoffs to the community I believe the more important, lasting effect of the message was to galvanize a new way Microsoft interacts with the developer community. Brian was transparent, open and honest with our developer customers in a way that had not characterized Microsoft since the very early days of the company. In lots of ways, Brian’s mail set the stage for the blogging explosion that took root easily at Microsoft a couple of years later.
So, in the interest of posterity, I have created a snap-shot of Brian’s message..
If you were around when Brian sent that original message I’d love to hear your perspective. Did it help you understand the issue better? Did it change the way you looked at Microsoft?