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.


About Author

Pradeep, a Computer Science & Engineering graduate.

  • tomwarren

    “Today, he wrote a blog post titled “now i get it, the consumer guys at microsoft are just plain wrong!”

    Hal’s post is from March, 2013. Nearly a year old.

    • chrgeorgeson


    • Hal Berenson

      I was just getting on here to point that out. Not that the post isn’t still relevant, although Build 2014 may prove that the tide has turned.

      • ZloiYuri

        Anyway now Nadella will rule, Azure were his child, maybe to 20’s Microsoft will change in every department. But sure – after massive kickasses and dismissals. Too much plain coders with plain menthality and one straight gyrus. Especially support have to be dismiss all and every single one.

      • Malcolm Williams

        Let’s hope right?

    • ZloiYuri

      What changed? Became more actual.

    • Nham Thien Duong

      The marketing in general at Microsoft is wrong, though Windows Azure sets a prime example.

    • omMarcus Asdrubal C. Navarro

      I can’t stay more on this site. So much shit posted by fanboys like Pradeep

      • ZloiYuri

        let me kiss you goodbye?

    • nohone

      Tom, as somebody who liked to read your old posts at WinRumors and other places you used to write for, anybody who sold out to TheVerge has no room to criticize other sites.

      • petermaude

        He is pointing out the original post is a YEAR old, and you know, NOT news…. what is the problem ?

        • nohone

          He sold out and works for a web site created by someone who likes to call Microsoft a “cancer,” will tell people who use Microsoft products to “calm the fuck down,” and so on. Their reviews routinely claim that the “ecosystem” for Windows (Windows, not Windows RT) is not as developed as the Apple (as in OSX) ecosystem. Their articles will often praise Apple and then excoriate Microsoft for the same thing. I have been noticing lately that there has been more and more articles written by people other than Tom, as if when they need a really negative article to generate a Microsoft-hating frenzy for ad clicks, they have someone else write it. The site is full of Microsoft-hating Apple apologists, except for Tom, who’s articles slowly have been taking on their tone.
          I just think he is a sell out, and for him to start criticizing other sites when the one he works for is much worse, takes a lot of nerve. So much so that I felt I needed to break my self imposed 3 month abstinence from writing on any internet forum to write this.

          • petermaude

            Tom’s comment was not critical of the site. It was simply pointing out, that the story is a YEAR OLD. That is not critical, it is a factual statement. Which I would think the OP would be grateful for, as it is clearly a genuine mistake.

          • Guest

            So, so angry. I guess that time off has done nothing to keep the Pot from calling the Kettle black. I was hoping better of you my friend.

          • GatorMaded

            Yes but in Tom’s and Verge’s defense: Apple Rocks!!! (While Microsoft been lost chasing failure after failure: Windows 8, Surface RT, Window Phone 7, Kin, Windows Phone 8, Vista, Zune,

          • freeman

            Back again. I wouldn’t blame you for taking a long break after some of the last garbage you wrote. Straight back into the attack the messenger rather than the message mode I see. The only thing I can say after three months and this is why you post again. At least we can see why you where not missed.

          • nohone

            Actually, the reason I stopped posting is because there are two different types of people. One group is willing to have a discussion, willing to be open to what they use, and not willing to hate companies such as Microsoft just because they have the name Microsoft. The other group is made up of people like you – too closed minded, too hateful, too damn stupid to be willing to discuss, you would prefer to attack any one and everyone simply because they do not buy into the Apple/Google/OSS does everything perfectly, and if someone does not agree with that, then you have made it your goal to take them down (and you have been a dismal failure at it, I may add). There is no reason to try to have a discussion with people like you, because you are incapable of casting aside your uselessness to society and the world in general. You will not change, you will hate even in the face of differing opinion, and so what is the point? Your pathetic existence shows to the world who you really are, and it is evidence enough against the products you champion.

            Sorry if I used some words that are too big for you to understand.

          • Guest

            Pot meet kettle…

          • freeman

            You see there was multiple ways you could have responded, you could of said for example the article was a year old but was still relevant.

            My response would have been it was a great article that I missed that while mildly critical was also extremely constructive. Even though it was a year old I think worthy of the read even now as the content is still relevant. You could even ask has anything changed.

            But oh no you straight away went into attack the messenger mode and petty name calling. Though I did find your rant rather entertaining and anyone who looks through the history of your account can see its standard practice. I know why you left and its pretty obvious again in your history but really there was no need to be so embarrassed you had to stop posting for 3 months.

      • Guest

        Sold out? He use to report about MSFT, he still report about MSFT and may I add he does so fairly and accurate which in some children’s world is hard to accept I guess.

      • SategB

        Well hello my old friend, hope all is well! I, for one, have been missing the waggish wit and peppery posts of my esteemed MS compatriot nohone!

  • GetEdumated

    I don’t know… Apple is super secretive and they are the ones supposedly displacing MS.

    • Hal Berenson

      You have to read the full post as I do address that.

      • GetEdumated

        Okay, I have now read the full article. But I also find that developers don’t take advantage of features even well after release. Not many apps use App Connect, not very many utilize Bing Vision (remember when MS was demonstrating this when Mango was on its way? Joe B. pointed his phone camera at a book and then followed a link to the Amazon app to buy it and here we are almost three years later and Amazon has never set their app up to do this), etc.

        I don’t think this is just a MS problem either. I can’t tell you how many sites (including the mobile version of Facebook) that don’t properly tag input fields. It takes, what? seven keystrokes to tag an input box for email addresses…

        I’m not saying you’re wrong, simply adding to the conversation…

        • ZloiYuri

          I’m saying you are wrong. Where are you living??? On small island??? Bing services blocked by MS in most countries WP selling. Do you think developers interested in tiny US market? No.

          • Prayaas

            Do you think you live in 2014? No.

          • ZloiYuri

            Do you think you live?) Or just internetting and gadgetting?)

          • GetEdumated

            Um, what? I’m sure Amazon is interested in our “tiny” market. And input tags are completely universal (read: every country can benefit from proper tagging).

          • ZloiYuri

            No. You are liar.

    • Nham Thien Duong

      They present their products before releasing them as if they are Doctors giving you the medication to boredom, Microsoft sees a problem, makes the solution, and does it all without taking any credit, people like products that brag, some people might say that this is not true, but it is, good (American) companies brag about everything.

      • ZloiYuri

        While MS will see the problem and will give the cure – patient will die and the crowd of android barbarians will rape this cold corpse

        • GetEdumated

          At least a corpse can contract viruses- amirite?

    • sin isfree

      Apple is way different, they got iSheeps. Sheep just.. well …follow

  • Bugbog

    I would say that this has been posted at just about the wrong time. As has been evinced, over the last 5months, Microsoft has been more ‘open’ with developers (maybe even the general public), making General Developer Tools that even the layman can use to construct an app. Lowering the cost of Developer registration to [near enough] zero. Making previews available early (to practically anyone who wants it): GDR3, and now 8.1.

    So I would have to state that this post has definitely lost its potency!

    • ZloiYuri

      Key word – “Slow development”.

  • reKitab

    Me agree! Whether written “Today”, yesterday, or whenever, it’s still relevant, imho!

  • Tips_y

    I don’t think there’s a problem with the “Shut Up And Ship” policy because it’s obviously working for Apple. What I see though as wanting in the Microsoft interpretation of the policy is on the shipping aspect of it. When the product is ready for the big reveal, it still takes months before devices actually hit the market. So the excitement is gone and the whole thing has grown cold. But now that Nokia’s D&S will soon be moving in-house, hopefully this can be corrected or vastly improved
    “Strike while the iron is hot” maybe trite and hackneyed but there’s still a lot of truth in it. I believe what Microsoft needs to do is vastly improve on the execution of the “Shut Up And Ship” policy for it to work as intended.

    But I also believe that the release of WP8.1 will be a watershed for the consumer side of Microsoft’s business. It will be the first time that the mobile OS will be at parity (or at least close to it) to iOS and Android. The focus can now mostly shift to growing the number of apps and to marketing.

    • sin isfree

      Apple is way different, they got iSheeps. Sheep just.. well …follow.

  • Adrian

    Even though it’s old, I agree 100%

  • sin isfree

    i agree with him !!!