A lot of people have been asking me about getting an insight into what happens as part of developing a product at Microsoft, particularly around the end game of a release.  Since we just finished shipping Visual Studio 2005 Beta1, I thought I would recount the last few days prior to the release about what happened internally in the team.  Please know that this is only a SMALL glimpse into what happens in the teams.  There is no way I can do justice to the phenomenal work that hundreds, if not thousands, of engineers do to develop and release a great Microsoft product in one or even a set of blogs.  

 

Tuesday, June 22

We took our last bug fixes for Beta 1 and started the 40607.14 build at 6pm, instead of our normal 9pm time, in order to get bits out the back end of the build process quicker.  The Sunday and Monday builds took more than 30 hours apiece to complete, so we estimated it would take until mid-Thursday to get media into the hands of QA for sign-off by Friday.  Our goal was to sign-off by Friday and put out the Beta bits on MSDN by the time TechEd Europe started on June 29th in Amsterdam.

 

Wednesday, June 23.

- Heard rumblings from QA that they needed media by 8am on Thursday in order to sign off by Friday (June 25th) end of day.

- Chris Dias, who is the project manager for Visual Studio 2005, went to 12:00pm QA Managers’ meeting to discuss the sign off timeline with the managers.   Some teams thought that would need more time than Friday to complete the final test pass and sign-off.  Here is what he did for the next few hours that day:

- 12:50pm, sent mail to developer division leadership explaining current situation

- Left the QA manager meeting at 12:50, went to lunch

- Had a revelation at lunch that we could get the .NET Framework redistributable to QA by 4pm on Wednesday so QA could get a head start.  

- Ran back up 4 flights, informed QA, and then left with the challenge of getting the rest of the media by 8am Thursday.  

- The long pole teams that needed more time to sign off could get done by Friday if the re-distributable made it out by 4pm.

- 2:42pm, sent mail to burn lab with priority of media to be burned.

- 2:53pm – re-distributable comes out of the build lab, QA gets started.

- 5:22pm – the release team decides to skip morale event and ordered buffalo wings to bring back to work to watch the build and drive the media creation

 

Thursday, June 24

- 1:56am – build lab created media for MSDN sent on their way to building 41

- 3:25am – build finished, CDs being built, expect to be available by 8:00am to get to QA for sign off

- 10:00am – all media delivered to QA (enough were produced and delivered in the right order by 8am for QA to proceed)

- 2:07pm – realized that some of the Express media (CDs) were missing MSDN, they were rebuilt

- 4:00pm – Chris walked the halls, checking on each team and how they were doing.  

- 4:20pm – found out about an issue where the Express SKUs would not work because of a drop that we picked up from a component on Tuesday

- 4:30pm – found out that setup from CDs appeared blocked because one of the dialogs comes up behind setup

- ~8:00pm – determined shipping without that component or an older version of the component is a non-starter, so decided to pursue a fix with that component team  

- 9:50pm – asked the component team for a setup fix on their side to fix the problem.  They agree to deliver ASAP.

 

 

Friday, June 25

- 12:08am - mail went to the division about the issue, the need to pick a fix, redo the build and CDs and the final test pass

- 12:46am - after consulting with QA managers on line that late, decided to take a surgical fix for the Setup UI prompt issue above. 

- 12:52am - decide to rebuild media and have it available by 9am to continue sign off.

- 2:22am - Chris Dias sent mail to division with the latest status including the sign-off plan

- 3:01am - I was online and sent a private mail to Chris Dias telling him he had the wrong # of minutes to sign off in his mail (he was off by 2 minutes J)

- 9am - there was a false alarm on a potential ship stopper issue that turned out to not be an issue

- 2:50pm - determine we need to go with the .16 build, apply fixes and resume the build process

- 7:18pm - mail to the division stating we’ll have media by 8am on Saturday to sign off by Monday.  Priority is getting Express signed off first for launch

 

Saturday, June 26

-8:00am - builds finished, media available for QA

- rest of the day - QA teams in full force for the final sign-off test pass

 

Monday, June 28

- all day, QA signs off on updated bits, media

- 7:30pm – lots of phone calls, to ensure that teams are completing their sign-off

- 7:45pm – All teams complete sign-off and I send mail to the Division announcing that we have signed-off on the beta release

 

Tuesday, June 29

- 12:00am, express SKUs are launched on MSDN

- 9:00am Amsterdam time - Keynote address at TechEd Europe begins where we announce Visual Studio 2005 Beta1

  

The team felt super good about shipping a high quality Beta1 in a timely manner and be able to announce that the TechEd Europe event as originally planned.

 

Namaste!