We've been issuing Community Tech Previews (CTPs) for some time now including the most recent for Team System code named "Rosario", and I recently asked our MVPs to help me understand what value they derive from these releases. I received a flurry of responses and since the results were interesting, I thought I'd share what I heard in hopes that you find it interesting or might even have something to add.
First, just to set a little context, we started issuing CTPs in the middle of the Visual Studio 2005 project and made them available several times during the Visual Studio 2008 project as well. In some cases, these are issued as virtual images to ease the need for installation testing as well as impact on customer machines. In all cases, these releases are lightly tested and don't meet the stringent quality requirements of our various beta releases. Essentially, we're looking for a low cost way for us to expose our current in order to get early feedback. This program has met with mixed success ranging from "madness" to some fantastic early feedback from customers. Obviously we're always looking to move away from the former and towards the latter.
The MVPs suggested several benefits they get from CTPs including the ability to:
They also provided suggestions on how we can continue to improve the value of the releases:
I'd like to hear from you on this. What value do you get from the CTPs? What could we do to make them more valuable to you? What sort of frequency would work best for you? How can we get more early feedback from you on these releases?
I look forward to learning more from you.