Has Microsoft figured out Beta testing?


Worth1000One of the most frustrating experiences of working with Microsoft as a partner, selling aside, is the process of being prepared for their next product wave. You’ve read the hardships I’ve experienced with it here from the very start of the Longhorn/Vista process and you’ve also probably noticed that things are looking up lately. The closer the product gets to release the stronger and more complete it feels (go figure) and despite the questionable direction there is something more in the air when it comes to Microsoft lately.

Maybe it was the change in management, maybe it was just learning to open up more, maybe it was the dire need to convince customers that Vista will not be a failure. Whatever the cause was, the effect has been really nice.

You see, about a decade ago things like Technet and Beta were not a common place. If you wanted to test drive software you were on irc.efnet.net #warez5 waiting in a dcc queue hoping to avoid a netsplit. Back then there was no MS Connect. There was pWa.

The effect? Vista beta is perhaps the best managed beta project with near-TAP-like handling. You are in the same process from start to completion. There are extensive and active newsgroups that surround it and are Microsoft supported. There are numerous LiveMeetings covering every aspect of Vista you can possibly imagine. Multiple mirrors, notifications of new builds, active boards, transcripts, etc. Make no mistake, a lot of money seems to be going into the testing and evaluation of this product before it even launches. I applaud Microsoft on this one, I really do. So they probably cut the cost of one extra PR firm generating buzz, skipped about 20,000 crappy tshirts for the launch party and will end up with a better product as a result of it.

Now if they could get a sense of humor and actually get the guy to shoot the Mac user

8 Responses to Has Microsoft figured out Beta testing?

  1. AlterdSol says:

    Wuss! Didn’t have the connections to get into #pwa or #warez so you had to go in a room with no key? I pitty you.

  2. Bill Fryar says:

    They really have! I thought I was the only one that noticed.

    I really appreciate that the alerts come up through email when there is a livemeeting. I usually can either watch them or will never see a recording anyhow so it is very convenient to have something to break up a boring day at the office.

    The training, quality and materials have been amazing. Yes, they seem to be trying very hard to reach the cynical ITPRO crowd like us.

  3. Brian says:

    Awesome pic! Shoot the punk!

  4. Chris says:

    Oh great, so they are getting better at making you test and fix their software for free so you can overpay for it further down the road. Great. I’ll take two.

    Microsoft’s days are numbered the way they currently do business. FOSS is getting better day by day and Microsoft/Apple are just battling over who is the last one left standing to cater to the true moron. Between Microsoft, MySpace, Apple commercials I think they’ll be fine for years on gadgets but on PC’s their end is near.

  5. CScriber says:

    They pretty much have to get better and kiss butt at this point. With so many legitimate alternatives coming up and IT budgets getting smaller they really have to keep their constituency happy and informed.

  6. And exactly what legitimate alternatives to Windows and Mac are there that a 50-year-old accounting clerk can use? I haven’t seen a *nix distro that’s as user friendly as Windows and Mac for the non-technical and that runs the applications they’ve come to depend on. Doomsay on, Vista and OSX continue to raise the bar.

  7. PenguinFan says:

    It’s nice that they decided to focus on open testing and quality this early in the product cycle. Really nice! Maybe one day they will innovate open source. Psh.

  8. Carlos Taria says:

    As made obvious by Vladfire #5… no, they have not figured it out. To take your own words, they are pumping money into Vista to make influencers like you change their mind but the rest of Microsoft is business as usual.

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