S. Somasegar is the corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft. Learn more about Somasegar.
Now that the launch of Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006 is over – or should I say the worldwide series of launch events has just begun, because we literally are covering over 240 cities spanning 90 countries touching hundreds of thousands of customers and partners over the next couple of months – I wanted to talk about some of the things that are on my mind.
First, for those of you who got a chance to see Steve’s keynote at the SF launch event, I am sure you will agree with me that Carolyn (a student from University from Washington) did a fantastic job of doing the Visual Web Developer demo in the keynote. I want to take this opportunity to thank her. Not to mention the outstanding work that our own team members in Brian Goldfarb and Prashant Sridharan did during the demos in the keynote as well the countless other people who helped behind the scenes to show off Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006 at the launch.
Making our customers successful with Visual Studio 2005 and .NET Framework 2.0
Now that the product is out there and you have started using it, we need to continue working with you in ensuring that we help you be successful with this product. This includes making sure that we support you fully, that we respond to any issues that you run into, where appropriate we provide fixes (hotfixes) for any key customer problems and at the right point in time provide a roll-up of fixes in the form of a service pack. My current thinking is that we will target the first service pack for Visual Studio 2005 around summer next year. As we get more mileage on the product usage in your production environment and get your feedback, we will firm up our plans here. I think about the whole developer division as being responsible for ensuring that we make our customers successful.
Also, team members will continue to actively participate in the MSDN Forums where developers ask and answer questions about Visual Studio 2005 and .NET Framework 2.0. Customers can also report issues or make suggestions at the MSDN Product Feedback Center. These reports and suggestions will be reviewed by the teams for possible inclusion in an upcoming servicing release.
Finishing up the Whidbey wave of releases
Though we have shipped and launched the English version of the product, the team is busy finishing up on all the localized versions of Whidbey which will take the next couple of months to get done.
Also, the Team Foundation Server team is busy going through the final phase of the release cycle and we hope to have a Release Candidate of TFS the very early part of next year. We are on track to delivering the final Team Foundation Server in Q1 CY 2006 as we mentioned earlier.
Re-tooling ourselves to be more agile, productive and predictable
I decided to take the next 3-4 months for the majority of the division and go through a milestone that we internally call MQ. I think having such a milestone is critical particularly as the product team comes off a long product cycle and before we get started on the next wave of product development. To me, this milestone is where we get an opportunity to retool our infrastructure and our tools to set ourselves up for being more productive, more agile and more predictable that all of us want. This also gives us an opportunity to deeply use our own tools in building the product. For example, a sizeable chunk of the division is already self-hosted on Visual Studio Team Suite – this is an opportunity to drive self-hosting (or dogfooding) even more deeply across the division. This is the time to think about what quality gates we want to have in place as we start on Orcas development so that we move quality even more upstream (earlier in the development cycle). This is also the milestone that we want to use to get rid of any debt that we have accumulated in the last release cycle – for example, if there are teams that haven’t got to the level of test automation this is the time to get that done. This is a significant investment, but one that I think is very worthwhile and will set ourselves up for further success moving forward.
We have been doing a fair amount of planning and early thinking on Orcas. If I have to net out, Orcas is all about enabling platform adoption for Windows Vista, for Office 12 and for WinFX. You can use Whidbey today to build Vista applications, for example. But Orcas will make it a whole lot easier for people to build Vista applications through easy to use designers and the like. We will continue innovating in our languages. We will continue to increase the depth and breadth of our lifecycle tools. We will continue to drive productivity improvements for our developers – web, device and client. We have already started sharing our early plans for Orcas at PDC 2005 and with our MVP community to get early feedback. As we make more progress, we will share more specifics on Orcas.
One thing that I want to start doing with Orcas is to be able to share specification documents as and when we write them with you so that you know what features we are thinking about. The thing we need to be thoughtful is that at the specification stage, we would not know whether that feature would make it into a particular release or not. So, we will have to think through how to make it clear to people when something is at a specification/design stage, when some feature is committed in a particular release, etc. But like I have said before we are committed to continue driving more transparency in terms of what we are doing and how we are doing with you.
Incubation and post-Orcas
I have always been a fan of saying that every team should have a percentage of their resources focused on incubation activities – things that are great ideas today and may take more than one product release cycle to bring to market. I want us to get into a regular cadence of releases, which means it is important that we know how to make the right investments in parallel on these incubation ideas. A good example that comes to mind is the incubation work that we have recently started on concurrency and parallel programming. There are several other incubations that are happening in the different teams. A lot of these will be ready in time for Orcas + 1, some may come to market earlier, some later – but I want us to have a culture of doing the following three things in parallel:
a) Make our customers successful with the products in place
b) Work on delivering a great value proposition with the next version of the product and
c) Have the right level of investments and focus in teams on incubation that are the next generation innovation and breakthrough ideas
In light of the “Live” announcements last week, we are starting to think about what it means for us in the Developer world. There are two things that we need to think about – the kind of tools support that we need to provide for our “Live” services platform and what does “Visual Studio Live” look like. This is another area where I expect to start some incubation soon.
Finally, I once again want to thank you as you have been an integral part of the development process and gave us feedback, suggestions, ideas, tested our CTP builds and in some cases actually bet on the product by deploying it in production environment even before we shipped to ensure that we were ready for prime time.