If you could be a hero, for just one day

Its official - we launched stuff today. I know every one who cares about these products and blogs, has probably already blogged about this launch. However, my post is going to be a tad different, in that, I was there. Rather, I was here. (I am still here) And while this was a special launch for many many people around the world, it was special for me in a different way. Only because, SF is my town. This was my launch (to me), and it was for everyone else.

Its funny how different people interpret the consequences of this launch. While working the launch, I met several people who were developers that actually worked on creating Visual Studio or SQL Server or BizTalk Server. To them, this was the end of something huge. To them these products shipped <happy exclamation> For us (folks in the field who deal with customers everyday), this is the beginning of something huge. To us, these products shipped <scary exclamation> (that sounded better as I was saying it out loud).

The event was just freggin’ awesome. I spoke with and met a lot of customers, and I mean a LOT of customers. This event was really huge for me, because it gave me a chance to interact with customers in a rather casual and informal environment. At my events, there’s usually a mad rush to wrap things up, and to move on. Today, I met a lot of customers who’re good friends of mine now, and some who’re not so good friends of mine (you know who you are <wink>).

A friend (customer) came up and asked me – “what is the one thing that has you completely psyched after this launch? If there’s one thing you could tell your friends about that totally psyched you up about this launch, what would it be?” And my answer was : “Visual Studio 2005 Express and SQL Server 2005 Express”. Honest. (I was inclined to say that it was the girls in the funky outfits who were representing that one partner, but I wasn’t quick enough to think of that on my feet, and I’m kinda nerdy that way). I think it was just a phenomenal move on our part to have these products available for free*. Download them, play with them, use them, create bugs, fix bugs, whatever else, and give us feedback about it.

And of course, for all good things that happen, there’s gotta be some uglies (or atleast things that can be interpreted as being ugly). Big launch events, or not, I don’t care! Give customers kickass products that‘s going to help them make “better decisions” to obtain “results faster” (where’ve we heard that before?), and they’re going to be all over it.

All the people I spoke to today, except for one, had positive comments about the entire experience (and I spoke to a LOT of people). There was one customer who thought we could’ve made the hands-on-labs better and easier to work with, and I thought that was good feedback which I promised to pass on. It turns out though that the guys who worked on creating the HoLs, Brian Randell and Matt Nunn who I ran in to at the Speaker’s Lounge, were already on top of things. They plan to release the HoLs to human beings via MSDN in the next few weeks. How awesome is that! Apart from that, the VPC images that were used to run the HoLs, along with the HoL manuals and instructions were all given out to customers who attended. To sum up, overall notion about the event and the products : big thumbs up!  And these’re people who aren’t afraid to bitch, mind you! <wink>

Today, I consider every one who worked on making these products, a hero. One of the primary goals for this release was customer productivity, and this product line is by far one of the best that Microsoft has ever released. Hats off to all of you who’ve worked on developing these products!

And, customers, you guys rock! As Steve Ballmer (or SteveB as I like to affectionately call him, its a little nickname I came up with myself <wink>), said during his keynote, “thank you”! Thank you for bearing with us and sticking with us through thick and thin. You make us want to do our jobs better, and we love doing it.

Song in AI’s head : “The Wallflower”’s rendition of “Heroes” (originally by “David Bowie”)

“AI” – (who’s having a launch high which will probably last for another 6 weeks or so, which means you're going to have put up with my hyperactiveness through Christmas)
* – Visual Studio Express will be a free download till 11/6/2006.