A Plea to Microsoft Architects#

Update January 27, 2004: As time has passed since the writing of this entry, I have learned more and changed my position somewhat.  Please read this entry, this entry, and this entry before continuing.  I appreciate all of the incredible feedback I have received.  Keep it up Microsoft, this is evolution at its finest.

This post in in response to a post by Harry Pierson over at DevHawk...

It is abundantly frustrating to be keeping up with you guys right now.  We out here in the real world do not use Longhorn, do not have access to Longhorn (not in a way we can trust for production), and we cannot even begin to test out these great new technologies until version 1.0 (or 2.0 for those that wish to stay sane).  I know there's probably not a whole lot you can do, but this is a plea to you from someone "in the field".  My job is to work on the architecture team as well as implement solutions for a large-scale commercial website using .NET.  I use this stuff all day every day, but I use the  1.1 release bits.

Here's my point, enough with the "this Whidbey, Longhorn, XAML is so cool you should stop whatever it is you are doing and use it".  Small problem, we can't.  Please help us by remembering that we're still using the release bits, not the latest technology.  I know how important it is for many of you to be blazing the trail and making sure we're headed in the right direction as an industry, but too many of you are falling into the category of useless information (though I'm certain it will be THE historical source of record once the "new" becomes the "released").  I can't use your discoveries until later, so you aren't helping a bit.  What you are doing, however, is getting Microsoft back into a perceived state of monopoly.  Why?  Because those of us whose business isn't writing software for other businesses to write software with must use the "old" technologies while you use the "new" technologies, placing yourself six months to two years ahead of the crowd.  So when it's release time, who knows how best to use your stuff?  You do.  I think that's fair and I know that's the nature of business, but it doesn't change the perception.  You'll spend a lot less money on marketing spin if you just keep us in the loop without requiring that we install beta bits on production boxes (the only way to keep up with you guys at present for those of us who do this for a living).  Oh yeah, we need more samples of current bits and less of XAML.

Remember, we're your customers and we love this new technology, but we need more of you to focus CURRENT topics on CURRENT RELEASE bits.  I don't want to read about how you used XAML and SOA to write a new version of the RSS wheel.  The RSS I have now is fine (short of the namespace that Harry mentions).  Leave it alone.

I know how difficult it must be for you to not use the new stuff.  How silly it must seem for you to "move backwards".  But remember, your average customer is not using it yet.

Also, I don't expect that you should stop using the new stuff (I'm sure that if I lived my life behind the MS firewall, I'd be hard pressed to code in anything but XAML and Whidbey/Indigo, etc.), but some of you could at least lag behind a little bit to help the rest of us catch up.  I really don't want to trust the MS marketing department to fill the gap between now and later, I'd rather it be someone a lot more qualified and experienced.  I also do not trust the marketplace.  Have you read those articles out there?  Some of those guys, while they mean well, are outright lost, and they're taking a lot of people with them because they've slapped together a StringBuilder() that emits thousands of lines VB.NET code.  Nevermind that the original architecture is lacking any signs of optimization, "it can write my code for me".  Scary.

Maybe my plea here is exposing the fact that perhaps I don't move fast enough.  Maybe it's just revealing that I'm behind, not everyone.  But I'm confident that I represent at least a small portion of your primary target demographic, and we're too busy implementing high-performance business solutions with the release bits to be spending any time figuring out the new bits.

I guess in the end, I'm only asking for you to consider what you are posting and spend a little more time analyzing the impact or the usefulness of that information to your customer.  Maybe what you are posting is fine, maybe we need to be pushed beyond our limits.  I certainly don't want you to stop posting about what's coming.  I'd just ask that you think about us as well as the technology when you're writing.  After all, isn't MS Research supposed to write about things we won't see for a long time?  I would think the architecture team would be a bit closer to the pavement than what I'm seeing lately.

Thanks for your time.

Update January 30, 2004 @ 7:27 AM EST: Chris Sells eliminates a lot of the confusion I was feeling when I wrote this.  Check this out.

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