Yesterday, Microsoft released the December CTP for Windows Vista. This marks the third CTP in the development cycle. And with yet another beta to follow shortly, I am left to ponder whether or not Microsoft is adopting one of the key advantages of the “open source” model: many eyes looking at the code.
Before you start to question my sanity, I will remind everyone that there is a big difference between what Microsoft is doing and what the “open source” community does. In particular, the source code for these CTP builds is not available for review. But let’s be serious. In the release cycle of the Mozilla Foundation, most of the “eyes” aren’t looking at the source. Instead, they are testing features and functions – and they are reporting bugs. Yes, some folks do look at the source code. But most testers do not.
So is Microsoft using a “release often” and “use many eyes” approach? I would have to say “yes.” First, there will be a lot of eyes on this release. According to Information Week, up to 500,000 testers will be examining the latest Vista CTP. This truly represents “many eyes.” And this CTP is the third release of the platform that has been submitted for customer (community) review. And if rumors hold true, there will be other CTP and/or beta releases to be reviewed. So from my perspective, Microsoft will reap huge benefits by releasing the software more frequently, embedding incremental featurs in each subsequent release, and distributing each release to a wider audience. At the same time, this will build the kind of excitement that has made products like Firefox so “buzz-worthy.”