Impact of the MSDN Product Feedback Center

Its been quite a long time since my last blog post. We have been pretty busy over the last couple of months (and will be for a few more weeks) driving towards a high quality Beta 2 of Visual Studio 2005 (Whidbey). This next release should be far more stable, secure and complete than Beta 1. We have been resolving all kinds of bugs and design issues over the past few weeks and looking back, I am greatly impressed at the impact the recently launched MSDN Product Feedback Center has had on VS 2005.

As a sample, here are some of the issues/suggestions I personally have had a chance to look at. I think the most useful product feedback falls into the following categories:

  1. Obscure scenario - a scenario we missed in our own tests. For example, trying to import a resource in Visual Studio with an unusual filename, like '0'. While such scenarios are quite rare, they are a source of irritation if when you do run into them, Visual Studio behaves unpredictably.
  2. Great suggestion - we get quite a few suggestions for improving a particular feature or behavior, and some of them are real gems. I have personally seen a couple related to the Client Settings feature that fall into this category.
  3. Feedback from third party component developers - this set of customers give us very valuable feedback about things like our component model, localization and designer infrastructure. This helps us tune these classes to allow better customization and extensibility of our feature set.

While there are (and have been) other sources of feedback like newsgroups, direct emails and dev labs, I think the product feedback center has some distinct advantages. First of all, the reach - pretty much anyone can give feedback. Second, there is a clear process for tracking every bug/suggestion we get. Nearly every single bug is looked at by the product teams. Third, due to the voting feature, we get a good idea of how many customers ran into a particular issue and consider important.

Finally, and I think this is the most important, the person who entered the bug, and also the whole community, has a chance to find out what the product team decided to do with the bug. So this is not like one of those surveys you fill out and never hear about again - you can track the bug at every stage of the process.

So once again, a big THANK YOU to everyone who gave their feedback and continue to do so! For me personally, it is very nice to see the features I implemented being put to use and a great source of satisfaction being able to address the issues real customers are seeing with the product. I am sure everyone else in the product teams feels the same!