Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Shipping Software: The End Game

Thanks to Rob Caron for pointing out this interesting article at Directions on Microsoft, concerning the stages Microsoft goes through in releasing software.

As Microsoft’s products move from development to shipping, they go through a set of interim releases designed to give Microsoft feedback on their contents and quality and help customers plan for deployment. Earlier releases help determine the features and architecture of the product while later ones serve primarily to shake out bugs. Customers and partners involved in these programs must understand their purpose to avoid either wasting time by evaluating a product too soon or missing opportunities to influence design by waiting too long.
Being an internal corporate developer, building apps for departments, I suppose we go through a similiar process, but it is not near as rigid or defined. I more follow a rapid prototyping, which would be more like a series of Alpha stages (or maybe Beta, I try not to show the customer too much that does not work).

One thing I have found though, is that appearance is everything. I can have all the functionality working perfectly, and it does everything the customer wants, but if I have not prettied up the final site, they are always very negative towards testing it. However, if I have prettied up the site, even if have the stuff on there does not work, they are always more positive toward the application. Go figure.