Microsoft Visual Studio and Quality

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Visual Studio 2010 ALM focusI was pleased to see Somasegar’s blog post last week announcing that the Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 release is being delayed. The reason: quality. The Beta 2, whilst good, isn’t up to the standard they wanted in order to meet the current release schedule. Thus, they’re going to extend the beta period in order to get it right. In fact they’re going add an additional release in Feb to make sure they’ve fixed all issues.

This is good news. One of the priorities for Microsoft over the last 3 years has been an increased focus on quality (see this post for another example). It’s permeated most of their products, not the least of which has been the wonderful Windows 7 release (seriously – how many complaints have you heard so far?).

Changing schedules isn’t something that Microsoft takes lightly I’m sure – especially when their marketing teams are well down the track of planning release events and the like. It means for example that the Australian ALM conference is going to be re-scheduled (I’ll be blogging about this event in a separate post – but suffice to say I’d strongly recommend attending if you can).

Oh and by the way, in case you are wondering what an ALM Conference has to do with Visual Studio, you won’t be in the dark too long. A big focus of Visual Studio 2010 is in capturing the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) market – they’ve been talking about it for a while now – so brace yourself for ALM branding coming from all angles (in fact it looks like they may even be removing references to Team System etc).

Visual Studio 2010 is going to be an important release for Microsoft in the Enterprise space. And whilst this may initially alienate some of the smaller dev shops, I’m reasonably confident the new TFS Basic options, debugging tools, Azure templates and countless other enhancements will be enough to keep them feeling included.

Finally, if you are keen to get up to speed on the TFS side of things then I recommend Adam Cogan’s SSW Brain Quest Tour. He’ll be covering Team Foundation Server 2010 in detail (specifically from the project management point of view) as well as SharePoint 2010. Sign up here (it’s pretty cheap). Most of the dates aren’t until next year, but if you are in Melbourne then you might want to take a look right now (the course is on Thursday).

14 comments

  • This comment made me think/laugh/sad:
    “One of the priorities for Microsoft over the last 3 years has been an increased focus on quality”

    Yes, I agree, the last years they *have* increased their focus on quality – but unfortunately I think their focus is only good enough quality” !

    I don’t believe they focus on great quality – and not even on good quality, but simply on “good enough” quality. They’ve done a poor job previously (Vista was embarrassing) and yes, they have improved *a little*.

    The latest Visual Studio is being delayed because the quality isn’t even good enough – it’s simply poor ! I *wish* they would focus on creating a great Visual Studio version one day instead of adding more poorly implemented features.

    Oh well, maybe Visual Studio 2012 will be better….

    • Thanks for the comment Atle.
      I’d be interested to know how you define ‘good enough quality’. For me, ‘good enoguh quality’ is probably the right target – it’s the point at which the product is useful, performant, secure, etc to the standards that most people want. ie it’s good enough for me. So, ‘good enough quality’ is exactly what I want. No product can be perfect of course, so there’s always going to be compromises…
      In terms of Vista (which incidentally I thought was OK – not a disaster – although it has received a lot of bad press) this was about 3 years ago now – it’s from then on that they’ve really put more of a focus on quality. I’d agree that Vista was lower quality – it wasn’t ‘good enough’. Hopefully you’d agree that Windows 7 is much higher quality.
      In terms of Visual Studio – I think we are saying the same thing. It wasn’t good enough – so they’ve delayed it. Isn’t this what you’d want? Which poorly implemented features are you thinking of?
      I’d be interested in your thoughts on this: In an ideal world where Visual Studio 2012 was up to the standard you wanted – what characteristics would it have that Visual Studio 2010 doesn’t?

      • Sorry, no “automatic notification” for replies, so I missed this… Just some rambling thoughts…

        ‘Good enough’ = usable, but not too stable or performant (Microsoft standard)
        ‘Good’ = usable, performant, secure etc
        ‘Great’ = Mac software

        I will never be satisfied with ‘good enough’, but from a business-perspective it often makes sense (it’s easier for Microsoft to make something ‘good enough’ as most people will buy it anyway due to market position/power).

        However, Microsoft tried this strategy with Vista as well, and discovered that people hated it. The problem was probably that Windows XP had grown into a ‘good’ (if not ‘great’ after SP2 and X years of experience) OS, and therefore Vista was considered inferior (and it was in terms of quality !). Windows 7 is *much* better – that is not a ‘good enough’ operating system – that is a GOOD (maybe even great) operating system.

        Visual Studio is actually the *most* important software tool that Microsoft creates, as it is used to make all other software on the Windows platform. Therefore, setting the bar at ‘good enough’ for Visual Studio is almost an insult, and send a bad signals to the millions of developers out there that tries to create quality software for Microsoft Windows (or ‘good enough’ software if following Microsoft standards).

        Some simple,quick comments on a great Visual studio 2012:
        – lightning fast compiler !!!
        – lightning fast ide !!!
        – lightning fast help system (which is also useful !)
        – lightning fast intellisense
        – reduce memory footprint (yes, it matters)
        – remove (or at least option to remove) WPF text – it’s a TEXT editor, it can’t be blurry !!!

        If Microsoft could stop creating new ‘good enough’ features, and focus some more on improving their existing (and most important) features to ‘good’ or ‘great’ status I would buy the next version. I won’t buy 2010….

        • OK, fair enough. I see we basically have different definitions of ‘good enough’. What you call ‘good’ I call ‘good enough’.
          I agree with your 2012 list. But regarding 2010 I’m surprised you say you won’t be buying it… when it isn’t even released yet. Surely you need to evaluate the released product before dismissing it? The RC should be out soon – I’d be interested in your feedback on that if you get a chance – one reason for the delay was performance problems. Let’s see how they’ve addressed that.
          Finally, assuming you won’t use 2010, what will you use? What is your dev tool of choice?

  • This comment made me think/laugh/sad:
    “One of the priorities for Microsoft over the last 3 years has been an increased focus on quality”

    Yes, I agree, the last years they *have* increased their focus on quality – but unfortunately I think their focus is only good enough quality” !

    I don’t believe they focus on great quality – and not even on good quality, but simply on “good enough” quality. They’ve done a poor job previously (Vista was embarrassing) and yes, they have improved *a little*.

    The latest Visual Studio is being delayed because the quality isn’t even good enough – it’s simply poor ! I *wish* they would focus on creating a great Visual Studio version one day instead of adding more poorly implemented features.

    Oh well, maybe Visual Studio 2012 will be better….

    • Thanks for the comment Atle.
      I’d be interested to know how you define ‘good enough quality’. For me, ‘good enoguh quality’ is probably the right target – it’s the point at which the product is useful, performant, secure, etc to the standards that most people want. ie it’s good enough for me. So, ‘good enough quality’ is exactly what I want. No product can be perfect of course, so there’s always going to be compromises…
      In terms of Vista (which incidentally I thought was OK – not a disaster – although it has received a lot of bad press) this was about 3 years ago now – it’s from then on that they’ve really put more of a focus on quality. I’d agree that Vista was lower quality – it wasn’t ‘good enough’. Hopefully you’d agree that Windows 7 is much higher quality.
      In terms of Visual Studio – I think we are saying the same thing. It wasn’t good enough – so they’ve delayed it. Isn’t this what you’d want? Which poorly implemented features are you thinking of?
      I’d be interested in your thoughts on this: In an ideal world where Visual Studio 2012 was up to the standard you wanted – what characteristics would it have that Visual Studio 2010 doesn’t?

      • Sorry, no “automatic notification” for replies, so I missed this… Just some rambling thoughts…

        ‘Good enough’ = usable, but not too stable or performant (Microsoft standard)
        ‘Good’ = usable, performant, secure etc
        ‘Great’ = Mac software

        I will never be satisfied with ‘good enough’, but from a business-perspective it often makes sense (it’s easier for Microsoft to make something ‘good enough’ as most people will buy it anyway due to market position/power).

        However, Microsoft tried this strategy with Vista as well, and discovered that people hated it. The problem was probably that Windows XP had grown into a ‘good’ (if not ‘great’ after SP2 and X years of experience) OS, and therefore Vista was considered inferior (and it was in terms of quality !). Windows 7 is *much* better – that is not a ‘good enough’ operating system – that is a GOOD (maybe even great) operating system.

        Visual Studio is actually the *most* important software tool that Microsoft creates, as it is used to make all other software on the Windows platform. Therefore, setting the bar at ‘good enough’ for Visual Studio is almost an insult, and send a bad signals to the millions of developers out there that tries to create quality software for Microsoft Windows (or ‘good enough’ software if following Microsoft standards).

        Some simple,quick comments on a great Visual studio 2012:
        – lightning fast compiler !!!
        – lightning fast ide !!!
        – lightning fast help system (which is also useful !)
        – lightning fast intellisense
        – reduce memory footprint (yes, it matters)
        – remove (or at least option to remove) WPF text – it’s a TEXT editor, it can’t be blurry !!!

        If Microsoft could stop creating new ‘good enough’ features, and focus some more on improving their existing (and most important) features to ‘good’ or ‘great’ status I would buy the next version. I won’t buy 2010….

        • OK, fair enough. I see we basically have different definitions of ‘good enough’. What you call ‘good’ I call ‘good enough’.
          I agree with your 2012 list. But regarding 2010 I’m surprised you say you won’t be buying it… when it isn’t even released yet. Surely you need to evaluate the released product before dismissing it? The RC should be out soon – I’d be interested in your feedback on that if you get a chance – one reason for the delay was performance problems. Let’s see how they’ve addressed that.
          Finally, assuming you won’t use 2010, what will you use? What is your dev tool of choice?

  • With regards to ‘good enough’; My opinion is that your ‘good enough’ is not the same as Microsoft’s ‘good enough’ (they have lower standards).

    Anyway, I won’t have any problem changing my mind regarding VS 2010 if the release version is *much* better – but that has NEVER happened before, and I doubt it will happen now (but I have no problem with being wrong – I actually *hope* I am :-)

    And it is almost embarrassing to admit it, but my dev tool of choice is still VC 6.0 for native Win32 code. Yes, the *compiler* has improved a lot over the years, but everything else (bugs, speed, ide, help, memory, intellisense (using external add-in)) have mostly become worse (and some areas, for some versions, *much* worse).

    Unless Microsoft changes focus from ‘good enough’ to ‘great’, I’ll stay with VC 6.0 until I am *forced* to change (due to 64-bit only in 10-15 years maybe ?).

    Yes, this whole discussion is different if you’re a .Net developer – and I’m not qualified to discuss that (but *most* of the issues seems to be similar ?).

    Thanks for the discussion – have a great day :-)

    • Yes, fair enough. I think if you have a dev environment that allows you to be extremely productive then there’s no rush to change – especially if the *latest and greatest* is actually slower (requires more resources, takes longer to start up etc). Provided you aren’t missing out on any benefits (eg I think IntelliSense has improved out of sight in recent versions) then stick with what works.
      Personally, I was a VFP developer for many years, and although the IDE was stuck in the 80s, it was an extremely productive, snappy, joy to use dev environment. Click the icon on the taskbar and it was open instantly. Compile a huge app and it was done in a matter of seconds. Beautiful. Plus it was the product of close to 2 decades of releases, so it was super stable. Oh how I miss it… It truly was great software. :-)

  • With regards to ‘good enough’; My opinion is that your ‘good enough’ is not the same as Microsoft’s ‘good enough’ (they have lower standards).

    Anyway, I won’t have any problem changing my mind regarding VS 2010 if the release version is *much* better – but that has NEVER happened before, and I doubt it will happen now (but I have no problem with being wrong – I actually *hope* I am :-)

    And it is almost embarrassing to admit it, but my dev tool of choice is still VC 6.0 for native Win32 code. Yes, the *compiler* has improved a lot over the years, but everything else (bugs, speed, ide, help, memory, intellisense (using external add-in)) have mostly become worse (and some areas, for some versions, *much* worse).

    Unless Microsoft changes focus from ‘good enough’ to ‘great’, I’ll stay with VC 6.0 until I am *forced* to change (due to 64-bit only in 10-15 years maybe ?).

    Yes, this whole discussion is different if you’re a .Net developer – and I’m not qualified to discuss that (but *most* of the issues seems to be similar ?).

    Thanks for the discussion – have a great day :-)

    • Yes, fair enough. I think if you have a dev environment that allows you to be extremely productive then there’s no rush to change – especially if the *latest and greatest* is actually slower (requires more resources, takes longer to start up etc). Provided you aren’t missing out on any benefits (eg I think IntelliSense has improved out of sight in recent versions) then stick with what works.
      Personally, I was a VFP developer for many years, and although the IDE was stuck in the 80s, it was an extremely productive, snappy, joy to use dev environment. Click the icon on the taskbar and it was open instantly. Compile a huge app and it was done in a matter of seconds. Beautiful. Plus it was the product of close to 2 decades of releases, so it was super stable. Oh how I miss it… It truly was great software. :-)

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I'm the co-host of HubShots and the CEO of XEN - helping mid-large B2B companies with their digital marketing and lead generation.

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