Former Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Slams Windows Division’s “Shut Up And Ship” Policy

At MS-News, we are fans of Hal who writes a great blog entitled Hal2020. For those not familiar with Mr. Berenson, he is a former Microsoft distinguished engineer and worked at the company from 1994 – 2002 and spent decades at the Digital Equipment Corporation before that. He often writes about Microsoft’s products, people and policies. Today, he wrote a blog post titled “Now I get it, the Consumer guys at Microsoft are just plain wrong!” in which he criticized Windows platform’s “shut up and ship” policy as opposed to older ways of engaging with platform developers in advance. For example, Windows Azure is now following the rapid release cadence and public previews releasing every few weeks. On the contrary, Windows and Windows Phone releases are closely guarded till its release leaving little time for developers to jump in to the new platform.

Let me contrast three strategic thrusts going on at Microsoft.  Windows, Windows Phone, and Azure.  Windows and Windows Phone are in the “shut up and ship” camp.  Azure is in the ENGAGE camp.  It seems like every week Scott Guthrie is announcing new Azure technology previews or releases.  Everything about Azure is exciting.  Amazon, Salesforce, and a few others defined cloud computing.  Azure is displacing them.  It has the Big Mo.  Let me make this clear, AZURE IS GOING TO WIN the cloud computing infrastructure and platform battle.  Meanwhile Windows and Windows Phone continue to alienate their ecosystems.  It is unclear if Windows Phone will ever amount to a significant third ecosystem.  It is unclear that Windows will be able to halt an overall market share decline against IOS and Android tablets.  Azure developers are excited.  No, it’s beyond excitement.  Windows and Windows Phone developers?  Not so much.  They are, at best, conflicted.  Azure is doing platforms right.  Windows and Windows Phone?  They prefer to “shut up and ship”, even if it risks no one caring what they ship.

It turns out that the consumer ecosystem as well as the community of influencers craves direction and interaction with the vendor every bit as much as Enterprise CIOs do.  Put simply, the consumer guys are wrong about secrecy.  At least at Microsoft.  I hope they figure it out soon, because “shut up and ship” is not helping their cause.

In closing let me remind everyone that I think Windows Phone and Windows 8 are great products.   It is the failure to engage with the ecosystem in a way that Microsoft well understands, and continues to do successfully in the enterprise (STB) space, that I’m criticizing.  Forget that conventional “shock and awe” consumer wisdom.  It was wrong.  Return platform evangelism, including willingness to discuss “futures”, to the forefront and watch Windows and Windows Phone adoption explode.

Read his full post here.

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