Ooh ‘eck. Now I’m the blog Police ?

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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Comments (6)
  1. Anonymous says:

    A long time ago, in a company far far away, I ran a Novell network (2.15 !). The other administrator

  2. James ONeill says:

    Just a quick note to say that David’s comment is  not a reaction to Guy’s They were both in the unpublished queue at the same time.

  3. James ONeill says:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/lifecycle/servicepacks.mspx will tell you when the next SP for XP is due.

    There is a compromise here: the rule with service packs is that the previous version is only supported for 12 months after the new one is out. Making everyone apply a service pack which is only a roll-up of fixes which they have already is also inconvenient.  

    Most OEM builds and many corporate builds have the older fixes applied, so very few people have to go through the process you describe, and even fewer have to go through it more than once.

    That said downloading 2 1/2 years worth of fixes individually isn’t what I’d call a streamllined process.

  4. Jacobyte says:

    Re: service packs

    What’s happened to service pack 3 for XP Pro?

    If I install XP Pro SP2 onto a machine, and then go visit Microsoft Update to patch it, it now takes longer to patch than to install the OS in the first place, even with a fast 20Mbps broadband connection.

    Frankly, this is a ridiculous situation and Microsoft should be ashamed that it continues to make it’s paying customers put up with this nonsense.

  5. Guy Adams says:

    I agree fully with your comment:-

    "wait for SP1" is a way of thinking that belongs to the 1990s.

    Other so called industry experts / consultants which tell theirs and my customers that you must wait for SP1 before upgrading either haven’t done much testing with the new line of technologies or are are stuck in the NT4 days.

    Exchange 2007 is frankly better out of the box than any previous version was and I would have no hesistation in deploying this to any of my customers.

    As for the above post I seem to remember reinstalling a customers XP SP2 machine a few weeks back and there only being 40MB’s worth of updates, over a 2Mbps connection this took around 15 mins to download and install which for the amount of updates I thought was quite good. The same situation but connected to a WSUS server took less than half of that.

  6. David says:

    Regarding: "To me ‘wait for SP1’ is a way of thinking that belongs to the 1990s."

    To my mind, it’s a universal truth of software design that the first revision will always be bad. Things are always rushed out the door, even when they’re not. I’ll admit that I found relatively few headaches in vista, but it’s not in full deployment yet. The pivotal point, to me, is that with a product that has been so historically full of management headaches, such as Exchange, it is disheartening to see sp1 expectations along the lines of:

    SP1 will fill in the GUI holes that we just didn’t have time to complete by RTM, including:

       * Public folder configuration

       * POP and IMAP configuration

       * SendAs permission configuration

       * Delegation wizard scenarios

    I’ll admit that I wasn’t on the betas, and though I’m running 2007 on my home network, I haven’t used it in any professional setting. But from the outsider’s view, the inability to configure, or fully configure, Public Folders, POP, IMAP or do SendAs rights seems to be a solid reason to wait till the Exchange team has had more time to get through the multitude of different facets in Exchange, and smooth them out some.

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