Developers who have been working with the growing number of Community Technology Preview (CTP) builds of various Microsoft products are finding out the hard way what being an early adopter means.
Testers (and Microsoft employees themselves) have run into difficulties when attempting to keep track of which CTP is which. In addition, CTPs of different products dont seem to mix very well with each other and/or with full-fledged beta versions of Microsoft wares. Sometimes, CTPs dont work correctly with shipping Micorsoft products products.
Microsoft blogger Eric Nelson is just one of many whove encountered CTP incompatibilities first-hand. In a posting where he said he was trying to keep it "simple" for developers, Nelson explained: "The July CTP of VS.NET does not work with the June CTP of SQL, nor does the June CTP of VS.NET. The June CTP of VSTS (Visual Studio Team System) does need the June CTP of SQL Server to run on top of. If you do elect to use the July CTP of VS.NET then you must target the SQL Server 2005 Express edition that ships with it."
As Microsoft officials constantly remind developers and customers, CTP product builds are not considered to be beta quality. Instead, they are interim snapshots, intended to provide testers with a glimpse of where particular products are, in between full-fledged beta releases.
Microsofts developer division has been championing CTP releases for nearly a year, and has touted the CTP releases as proof that Microsoft is serious about becoming more transparent to its customers and partners.
Microsoft has released number of CTP builds of the Windows Communications Foundation (Indigo) and the Windows Presentation Foundation (Avalon) on Windows XP, as well as of Visual Studio 2005. Ditto with the SQL Server team, which has released more than one CTP build of Yukon, aka SQL Server 2005. The Acrylic, Exchange Server, BizTalk Server, Commerce Server and Host Integration Server teams are all getting into the CTP act. And the Windows team is making noise about releasing Windows Vista CTPs, as well.