Microsoft’s Quarterly Release Cadence: Implications for the Rest of Us
Early last week, Microsoft posted the first release from their new quarterly release cadence for Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server. This new cadence means great things for users and partners – faster bug fixes, earlier delivery of new features, and a chance to be more engaged with Microsoft’s product development cycles.
But this creates a special challenge for us because we actually ship inside Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server. With this new cadence, we will often only have a few weeks between the time when we discover a breaking change and the time when it is available to users, i.e. every developer with a copy of Visual Studio 2012 or Team Foundation Server 2012.
This isn’t an insurmountable problem – we already use agile practices (Scrum + dev practices) and have fairly lightweight release processes – but it does mean that we have to tighten those practices and modify how we communicate and distribute our updates.
And there’s nothing like a real-world example to test out a theory! We recently discovered that our web components (within PreEmptive Analytics for TFS) require an update under TFS 2012 Update 1 – both for our Professional SKU and for our Community Edition (the version inside Visual Studio).
The good news is that it only took us a few weeks to identify the issue, determine the fix, schedule the work, and create a patch. (Great job, team!) Now we need to get this patch out to our users, and that’s where this is new ground – we don’t have a direct way to reach all our Community Edition users of PreEmptive Analytics for TFS. So our plan is to post a notice on the changelog (CE and Pro), write this blog post, and ask Microsoft to mention it via their development blogs. If you have suggestions for how else we can spread the word, please let us know!
To download the patch, you’ll need to be registered on our website, which is easy to do. If you’re a Professional user, you are probably already registered. If you’re using Community Edition, it was already a good idea to register so we can alert you to updates like this one, and provide free resources, etc. Once you’re registered, you can download the patch and follow the instructions to install it. The same patch will work for Professional and Community Edition users, and we posted localized versions for our Community Edition users.
Of course, new users of our Professional SKU won’t have to install this patch, but Community Edition users will have to apply patches like this one for the foreseeable future.
Coming back to our new release processes – we think the new quarterly release cadence is a good thing for us and our users, but it means we have to adjust our quality, communication, and operational processes in order to maintain our standards while meeting these new goals. Now that we’ve done that, we’d love to hear your feedback about how it went, or how you think it should go the next time around. Please post comments on this post if you have any feedback or ideas. (And thanks in advance!)