"Living the Beta life" or "How I learned to love Dogfood"

One of the reasons I really love working at Microsoft is the opportunity to “eat your own dogfood”. This means trying out our software, and thereby finding problems, before our customers do. I always try to be one of the edge cases, chowing down on the dogfood as early as I can. This can often cause significant amounts of pain, in fact Office 2007, specifically Outlook 2007, has been biting my keyboard fingers for the last 3 months (largely been due to my dependence on a stack of Outlook addins, an area where the initial Office 2007 beta is known to be unreliable).

Anyway, to my mind the pain is always worth the bragging rights, and inside Microsoft this bragging largely takes the form of a newly updated email signature….So, with the emergence of blogs, I think it is only right I take this bragging to a new level, find below my new signature:

Sent using Microsoft Outlook 2007 Beta 1 (Technical Refresh) running on Microsoft Vista!

Thats right, last Friday I made the jump and installed Windows Vista. To be clear, I’m not talking test machine here, I’m talking parachute free, format c:, Windows XP install disc is a coaster, primary machine install. In fact I’m writing this post right now using BlogJet on Windows Vista, and I’m pretty stoked. While there are of course some really rough edges, I’m thoroughly enjoying it. The new Aero theme is very nice on the eye and this combined with all the “polish”, even in this early release, has convinced me that this will be the most user friendly version of Windows ever.

I also have to admit to being in love with the new Office 2007 UI, especially with this new polished UI, it achieves what it sets out to do, that is exposing the features of the product in a much more intuitive way. The technical refresh is the level of quality I would have expected from a Beta 1, and I’m happy to report that in the three days since I installed Outlook has been a lot more stable.

I have to admit though, you do have to wonder where it all ends when you look down at your phone and see a big “beta” sign staring back at you. <grin> Yup, I’m even dogfooding the next version of Windows Mobile, the one with “push” email. Frankly, I’m not sure what the big deal is about this “always-up-to-date email” thing, as opposed to a simple 15 minute sync, but the ticks in the feautre box anyway….