This was actually quite a bit of fun for us. Bruce, a former OneNote tester himself, transferred over to the training department that helps new folks at Microsoft get started. One of the classes he runs is a three hour lab session designed to get testers to learn the skill of entering a bug - how to define reproducible steps to hit the bug, gather the needed data to diagnose the problem, etc…
He called us last week and said his new class needed an application to test, and would OneNote be interested? You bet we were! Get around 30 people to stress OneNote for three hours? Heck yes!
So we went over to his lab to see how things were set up, meet with him and come up with a structured plan. The classroom had PCs for everyone with touch screen monitors, so we had one hurdle overcome for us. Next up was dealing with only a three hour session. That is not a lot of time so we wanted to make the most of it. We decided that getting all the tools needed installed would take a large amount of time that we did not want the new testers to pay, and since we have automation and a small server farm for virtual machines, we decided we would install enough VMs with OneNote and all the tools we needed for everyone. Then when the class started, everyone only had to log into a pre-assigned VM and could start testing with OneNote.
We also came up with a structure for areas to test. While I can't reveal them here, we wanted them to focus on these areas and not make it a "free for all." While those are fun, when you get done, you can never really tell what you tested or even get a clear state of the condition of the application you are testing. If everyone focuses on napkin math, you may not get any other testing around areas in which you really want feedback.
One last benefit we got from this is that since we hire testers from around the globe, we had a variety of language coverage as well. My rough estimate is that our test team speaks and reads about 15 languages or so which is great, but getting any new coverage earlier is always a plus.
Now that we have Bruce's ear, we hope to do more of these in the future. If you become a tester here, the first application you test just might be OneNote…
Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,John