Can Microsoft Take a Page from Open Source?

Developers weigh pros and cons of Microsoft's Community Technology Previews, the company's attempt to become more "transparent" and more like the open-source community.

While Microsoft Corp. will not actually deliver any new bits at the VSLive Conference in San Francisco next week, the company will share the status of some of its key tools and discuss release targets.

Sources said Microsoft plans to announce that Beta 2 of Visual Studio 2005; Beta 3 of SQL Server 2005; and the much-anticipated first CTP (Community Technology Preview) of Indigo, the new communications subsystem for the upcoming version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, all will be released on March 31.

/zimages/6/28571.gifFor more on Beta 2 of Visual Studio 2005, click here.

Microsoft would not comment on release dates.

In fact, VSLive will feature an "Indigo Day," and Eric Rudder, Microsofts senior vice president of servers and tools, will deliver a keynote at the conference about Indigo being Microsofts unified programming model for building service-oriented applications.

Microsoft added the CTP process in an attempt to become more "transparent" and more like the open-source community.

"One of the things I have personally learned from the open-source community or movement is transparency," said S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Developer Division.

"The reason Im excited about transparency is if Im a developer what I really want to know is the internals of the system," Somasegar said. "I want to know when decisions are getting made, I want to know why the decisions are getting made and—assume Im a developer outside of Microsoft—that Microsoft can provide a way for me to interact on a regular basis with the product teams that are building the technology."

Somasegar, who also will be keynoting at VSLive, told eWEEK: "Look at things like the Community Technology Preview. It looks like thats just an obvious thing to do, but I can tell you inside the team there was a lot of angst because historically we were in a mode where wed write some code, wed go through an extensive stabilization period, wed call it a beta, and then wed show it to customers.

/zimages/6/28571.gifTo read eWEEKs interview with Somasegar, click here.

"We were sort of not ready to air our dirty laundry so to speak, because every build that comes out wed have some problems, wed have some glitches, but thats how software gets developed—from a build to build perspective," he said. "And we were trying to say, Hey, if I can share it with you as an engineer in the team, I want to share it with my close community of customers. Because I want them to see the progress we are making. And if they think we are making the wrong decisions, they can tell us right then and there. I dont want to wait another year before I can get feedback from the community."

Next Page: Confusion over multitude of CTPs.