James O'Neill's Blog

March 4, 2007

Ooh ‘eck. Now I’m the blog Police ?

Filed under: Exchange,General musings,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 3:50 pm

No sense denying it, I like Mary Jo Foley linking to something I wrote. Although being cast as a member of the thought Blog Police seems odd. I doubt if many people think of me as someone who filters what he says inside Microsoft 🙂

I searched for an FBI saying I’d heard and found it with the same citation in lots of places: ‘J Edgar Hoover spent as much time polishing the image of the FBI as he did solving crimes, and the unofficial motto of the FBI remains, “Never embarrass the bureau” ‘. The reference to “Stupid posts” in the title of a post about Blogging Smart was a comment on people who never seem to wonder if they might “embarrass the bureau”. Mary Jo quoted my comment that it was right this should lead to “a certain amount of discomfort”. Robert Heinlein was tougher: Stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

The post I “chastized” disclosed information about Exchange Server 2007 SP1. You can make your own guess about when it will be released. For background, Longhorn Server and Office Communications Server are both labelled “Coming soon” on beta central (you can register an interest there). Exchange 2007 SP1 is going into beta in April according to the Exchange team blog. It needs to work on Longhorn and with OCS’s voice features. So Mary Jo’s belief that the final version of Exchange SP1 “is slated to ship simultaneously with Longhorn Server, which is due out before the end of this year.” seems reasonable, although how it turns out is another matter. I hate doing “roadmaps” because changes make forecasts look stupid or open me up to accusations of selling vapourware, and both are embarrassing

Here’s an expansion of Blog Smart. In his book “Up the Organization” Robert Townsend told how, at Avis in the 1960’s they made people accessible to the press without going through a PR department. The people were given 3 rules.

  1. Be honest. If you don’t know, say so. If you know but won’t tell, say so.

  2. Pretend your ablest competitor is listening. If he already knows your latest marketing plan, you use the call to announce it; if not shut up. (This mind-set also prevents knocking the competition, which is always bad for everybody).

  3. Don’t forecast earnings. If asked why not, tell them we don’t do in public anything we can’t do consistently well (and believe me, nobody can forecast earnings consistently well).

I’d say “don’t forecast ANYTHING outside your direct control”

In a different post, Mary Jo asked “So what happened to the whole idea that Microsoft might do away with Service Packs all together, starting with Exchange 2007, and replace them with regular hotfix rollups?” I guess Exchange 2007-SP1 could be called “R2” instead.
I was asked about Vista Service packs recently. With fixes going out via Microsoft update there’s less need for service packs as vehicle for fixes. If you check our list of ‘what shipped when‘ you’ll see we Shipped NT4 on 29 July 1996, and SP4 on 25 October 1998 – 27 months later. XP Service pack has been out longer than that is still current. It would be stupid to claim any piece of software was perfect (or even unbreakable), but newer software is built with better tools and gets more testing than was the case in the 1990’s – I believe we had more beta testers for Vista than customers for NT 3.1, 3.5 and 3.51 combined; the result bugs were found and fixed in Vistas beta stages which would taken one or two service packs to fix in NT4.

Mary Jo took issue with Eileen’s contention that “before the end of the year” is “quite a while” she says “I know I sound like a broken record. But business users with whom I speak tell me that they want and need to know when service packs (especially SP1s) are slated to ship. Many still won’t deploy a new product until SP1 is available”. To me “wait for SP1” is a way of thinking that belongs to the 1990s. Sometimes it’s a way saying you are not a laggard , just prudent. In 6 years in Microsoft Consulting I met IT departments whose agility was a business enabler or a strategic asset. And I met others so risk averse they would do nothing before their competitors. The latter think they are prudent and their departments are well run; what I saw was often people too busy fire fighting to understand what was coming next. When I first came across our Infrastructure optimization model , this stuck a chord. Those who are at the “dynamic” end of the spectrum don’t always deploy new technology, but they can, they’re the ones who tell me that forthcoming feature X will make the product compelling for their business. Those at the “Basic” end of the spectrum find all changes harder, they’re the ones who just wait for SP1 without knowing what’s in it. And Mary Jo is right, there are lots of them.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


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