Microsoftie Perk #1 - Dogfood: I get to install and test prerelease versions of any Microsoft product including Visual Studio, TFS, MVC, Office and SQL Server before the rest of the world does

The is a post in a new blog series I’m writing called “Microsoftie Perks – Why I love working at Microsoft

It only took about 3 seconds for me to be introduced to the term “dogfood” when I started at Microsoft back in 2003. Dogfood, or “eating your own dog food“ simply means that we use and test out software before we release it to the public to help increase the quality of the product by providing feedback to the product teams. Yes, other companies do it too, but it really nice to be able to dogfood your new IDE, Office or whatever you use every day all day.

For example, my team and I have been using Visual Studio 2012 for months now and will be one of the first to completely transition our entire code base to it…we actually plan to do that this coming Monday!

I don’t exactly remember every product I’ve dogfooded, but I do remember being on Vista, BizTalk, SQL Server, Visual Studio, TFS (before it was even announced) … the list goes on and on.

It’s really easy to find the dogfood too. If you want to install the latest OS just hit F12 when you boot your machine and boot from the network. If you want to install any other software you can either go to an internal site called “products” or go to the respective sharepoint team site “devdiv” “office” etc. Very easy to find and usually very easy to install.

There also another cool program called Technology Adoption Program (TAP), also available to external customers, which allows you to get the latest bits AND get direct help from the product team. I’ve done this for BizTalk, SQL Server and Velocity. It was awesome. The product team assign a person, usually a PM, to work directly with your team. They answer questions, give you QFEs and collect your feedback. I’ve seen many of my teams suggestions get into products…it’s very rewarding.

When you do go about dogfooding something, especially your main dev env I recommend doing so on a VM. There’s too much risk in installing on your main machine, especially when the dogfood is in its early stages. I’ve been burned a few times by installing VS when it was too early on my dev machine and later regretting it when I had to spend hours trying to uninstall or just ultimately flattening the box. Trust me. Use a VM :)

I’m looking forward to Monday. My team will officially be on Visual Studio 2012 and MVC4…way before most of the world will.