Microsoft marketing got it all wrong with VS 2005

I think that finally, years later, we can finally put the name-everything-.NET fiasco behind us. But our friends in the marketing division of Microsoft have managed to get it wrong again. I'm absolutely astounded how the product development teams can think up great things, be in touch with the world, and listen to customers, while the people down the hall can't get even a single clue.

There has been a lot of chatter about it, but I see two particular issues.

The first is that the entire Visual Studio product line has been fragmented to death. The differences between standard and pro are silly enough, but the Team System skus are even more ridiculous. Collaboration my ass. Whether it has been in a small team of two or in a giant corporation, I've always had to have all of the tools on my computer to get the job done. That includes requirement management, defect tracking software, testing software, quality tools, Visio, Office, the IDE itself, etc. The arrangment of the VS skus pretends that we all live in these discreet little spheres and never cross into other areas, especially the VSTS products. What a shame.

The other issue is the one about the server product for Team System. That one doesn't stick quite as close to home, but it's still certainly an issue. How it's tied to MSDN subscriptions is even more ridiculous, and the consultants get the short end of that stick. Seriously, what's the fear there? We've been getting the enterprise version of SQL Server for years. You don't think we're using that kind of thing in production, do you? Why would it be any different for this new server product? Good luck getting that into the enterprise when consultants can't even get their hands on it as part of their subscriptions.

Congratulations to the development teams bringing these products to us. We're glad that you've been listening. Now go kick down the doors of the marketing people and blast them for wasting your time.


  • I just forwarded this to the marketing team. Hope that helps.

  • Robert: Could you please also forward the previous long set of rants at:

    as I made several points that need to be raised with Marketing.

    The big point is that it not only hurts single-developer ISVs and Consultants, but also Contractors and Corporate Developers. (Oops! That's just about ALL developers!)

    A lot of crazed and passionate contractors and corp. developers (like me) have our own personnel MSDN Universal subscriptions in addition to our employer-paid-for subscriptions. This is mainly so that we can evaluate and train on products LONG BEFORE recommending them to our corporate employers. Now days, most corporations (esp. those in Silicon Valley) will NOT consider wasting time (man-weeks) or resources (the computer kind) in order to determine if a product will fit their needs: they expect Staff Software Engineers to ALREADY KNOW THIS STUFF!

    The new "role-based" VSTS SKUs and lack of a bundled-in 1-CAL TFS will prevent me from DOING MY JOB. As it stands, the current company for which I work has already let my MSDN Universal expire, and there's little hope it will get reinstated since I won't be able to give a compelling cost-justification to renew and guarantee to them that it will satisfy project requirements.

    The same non-recommendation for buying VSTS Team Suite and TFS will happen at my next company later this year. That's two customers you're already losing!

  • Jeff, I made an attempt to tell what you worded much better. I full agree.

  • does anybody even remember CEO screaming:

    "developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers..." ?

    Microsoft is finally loosing it...

  • Everybody BUT marketing is right. Microsoft is going to use the "But they do !" excuse ? I don't buy it from my kid when he tries to get away with it, why am I going to excuse it from someone who supposedly wants my money ( or any of my clients ) ?

    Jeff has it on the money ! Do you hear me ? On the money ! You think because I design software systems, I don't ever have to code or test myself ? What ? You say that doesn't make sense ? Look it's very simple....don't nickel and dime ( or in this case Washington and Lincoln ) me to death. Borland and IBM's ALM software have been ridiculously overpriced ( and I've told Sr. Architects and Product MANAGERS at Borland that too ).

    Just because I'm independent much of the time doesn't mean I feel like paying the downpayment of a car ( and not even a cheap car either )whenever there's a silly upgrade. Refactoring ? It should've been there. Eclipse has had it for years now. C'mon. Generics ? Great, you just caught up to where C++ was a decade ago.

    It's very simple, Enterprise customers are bigger, yes. But there are more OF US. There always will be. And guess what ? We have corporate customers too, and they listen to us. They listen to us because we're there in the data center at half past one ( in the morning ), while you're sleeping, looking at core dumps because someone forgot to apply either the latest hotfix this, or service pack that. Yes, that makes us Cog-makers, but when we speak about how the tools are inadequate ( and having seen VS2005 TS it is by NO MEAN a panacea ), you can hear the screeching tires all the way up to the company comptroller's office.

    So please, besides all the bluster. The reality is that the VisualStudio really shouldn't be that expensive. The EA ( Enterprise Architect ) package should be priced more in line with the what you're looking to charge for the Professional, and the Professional should be priced more like the "standard". And before I get off my soapbox, don't get me started on how the "Academic" versions (which usually have the same features as the EA SKU) mysteriously have to cost less because they're not supposed to produce commercial software with it. What ? I need to enroll at a local Community College so I can afford to buy a package so I can stay up on the latest tech you're putting out ? Get real. Get in touch. Get out more and actually ASK "What would you pay for this ?". I would think that if you asked more indepdents and even corporate programmers themselves, the answer will be BY FAR <$1,000. Any package that goes above that, out of the box, is pricing itself far outside the realm of reality.

    And while I'm at it. $25 express versions ? What is that ? Trying to compete with SharpDevelop ? Hello ?!?! There are more important things for Micrsoft to do. Like actually making it so that when you select "Check for updates", that the bloody thing actually DOES what it says it's going to do ( I know there's a fix for it. One you have CALL IN to get, that's just silly ).

    I'm getting off the soapbox now, but I reserve the right get back on at a later time. Thanks Jeff, for lending me the soapbox.

  • LOL. College idea is pretty cool ;-) Migh be cheaper then MSDN + you will get new skill developed for money you have paid.

    I'm thinking about my degree to be Arts or Advertising ;-)

  • Blog link of the week 12

  • Interestingly Microsoft has pledged to use Team System to build production code in Redmond (because of all the crap they get for not using VSS in-house but continue to provide as a solution for their customers)....

    Are any Microsoft applications using standard winforms development practices / controls? I mean real know like VS.NET, Office, MSN Messenger / MSN Desktop search?

    I tend to think they don't use the winforms controls (because of all the bugs and work arounds we have to do to use them.... e.g. subclass DataGrid to enable row selecting and retrieving the bound object).

    Why didn't they build VS.NET from scratch in C#? You know how much they would have learned? I hear some of it's C# but quite a bit of it's C++ right?

    What about domain models? Does microsoft really use datasets and datatables bound to their controls? <shivers>

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