Mike Wickstrand just posted a great write-up about his experiences with Windows Azure over the past year, so good that we're posting it in its entirety here... enjoy!
Although I've worked at Microsoft for more than 11 years, 2009 marked the first time I had the opportunity to attend Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference. When I walked around PDC 09 in Los Angeles last year and spoke with developers, I found that I was inundated with many great ideas on how to make Windows Azure better, almost too many to sort through and prioritize. As someone who helps chart the future course for Windows Azure this was a fantastic problem to have at that point, because in late 2009 we were finalizing our priorities and engineering plans for calendar year 2010.
Energized by those developer conversations and wanting a way to capture and prioritize it all, on the flight home I launched (Wi-Fi on the plane helped). It's a simple site where Windows Azure enthusiasts and customers (big or small) can tell Microsoft's Windows Azure Team directly what they need by submitting and voting on ideas. I wasn't sure anyone would participate, so I submitted a few ideas of my own to get things going and gauge interest in some ideas we were kicking around within the Windows Azure Team. The goal of the site was and is to better understand what you need from Windows Azure and to build plans around how we make the things that "bubble to the top" a reality for our customers in the future.
So what happened? Well, with a year now gone by and a slew of features on tap for release it's the perfect time to reflect back. In the past 12 months, more than 2000 unique visitors to mygreatwindowsazureidea.com have submitted hundreds of feature requests and cast nearly 13,000 votes for the features that matter most to them. There were also hundreds and hundreds of valuable comments and blog posts that grew out of the ideas people were sharing on the site. Thank you for this amazing level of participation!
With the announcements last week at PDC 10 and with a look forward to things that weren't announced, but are in the works, I am pleased to let you know that we are addressing 62% of all of the votes cast with features that are already or soon will be available. Said another way, we are addressing 8 out of the top 10 most requested ideas (and more ideas lower down on the list) that in total account for roughly 8000 of the nearly 13,000 votes cast.
I hope that you agree that we are sincerely listening to you and knocking these high priority ideas off one-by-one. I am sure there are some of you that want new features to come sooner or perhaps you're not happy as your requested feature isn't yet available (or it isn't available exactly in the way that you envisioned). With more than 2000 people participating, this is going to happen - - I just hope with what we are releasing that you are now even more enthusiastic to keep an active dialog going with me. Also, please realize this site is just one of many channels we use to determine our engineering and business priorities, and this one just happens to be the most public.
On that note, I received this e-mail the other day that I wanted to share with you:
From: Paul <last name and e-mail address withheld>
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2010 4:15 AM
To: Mike Wickstrand
Subject: Windows Azure
I've been keeping a close eye on Windows Azure, and so far it's been a case of "Wow, I'd love to develop for this, but it's too expensive". I've been looking on "mygreatwindowsazureidea.com", and I have to say, the new announcements for $0.05 per hour instances and being able to run multiple roles <web sites> per instance has tipped me in favour of Azure enough to begin learning and developing for it.
Thanks so much for listening to the feedback of the developer community. It gives me a warm feeling that we have our Microsoft of old back, who cares and listens to the developer community.
Honestly, this is great news.
(A born-again Microsoft fan-boi)
When I was sitting on that plane last year flying back from PDC 09 I hoped that in a year I was going to be able to look each of you in the eye and demonstrate to you that Microsoft listens and that the Windows Azure Team cares about what you need. In the best case scenario I envisioned that I would hear from customers like Paul. I gave you my assurance that if you tell us what you want that I will do my best to champion those ideas within Microsoft to make those things become a reality. I hope you feel like I've lived up that and that I've earned the right to keep hearing your ideas on how to make Windows Azure great for you and for your companies.
So...a big thank you to the more than 2000 people who shared ideas and voted for what you want and need from Windows Azure. To the thousands of Windows Azure customers who regularly receive e-mails from me asking for your opinions, thank you and please keep the feedback coming. And lastly, to the Windows Azure Team, thanks for making all of this happen, for Paul and for our thousands of customers just like him.
In the past year we've also added a few more ears to my team, so along the way please don't hesitate to share your ideas with email@example.com (Haris), firstname.lastname@example.org, (Adam) or email@example.com. (Robert).
We look forward to coming back to you in another year after PDC 11 and having an even better story to tell.