Final word on unexpected VS 2008 Beta 2 expirations

Brian Harry

The final mitigation for our unexpectedly expiring VS/VSTS/TFS 2008 Beta 2 VPC is now in place.  Yesterday we uploaded new VPC images with the expirations changed.  Again, remember that the issue only affects VPC images.  If you installed the actual setups, there will not be any early expiration issue.

You can read more about the background on this issue in Jeff’s blog thread or mine.  The new VPCs should not expire before March 2008 (as originally planned). Once again, I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused people.  Releasing betas as VPCs is a fairly new process to us – this is the first release we’ve done it.  I think we’ve learned a lesson on yet another thing to check for. It reminds me of an experience we had when shipping VS 2002.  After QA sign-off, we released the “final” bits to an internal server for people across the company to try out while we mastered the production DVD image and sent it off to the duplication company.  A couple of days later we got an email from someone in the field (MCS, I think) in Germany who had been trying it out and for some reason had the date on their computer set 1 year into the future and the software refused to run because it said it had expired.  It turns out that, in the final builds, we had continued to use the time bombed Beta product key file instead of the proper RTM one.  Of course, it was a stop the presses crisis and we quickly rebuilt with the proper file.  The process reasons that allowed it were not all that different from what happened this time.  The time bombing technology had been built by the Office team and we were using it.  Because they built it, they generated the key files and we just incorporated them.  There was a mix up on the exchange between Office and VS that led to using the wrong file.  In this more recent case, the timebombed, base VPC images are produced by the Windows team and we use them.  We didn’t double check that the expiration date was what we expected it to be. Following the 2002 incident, we have ever after had a checklist item to validate the product key to make sure it is the correct, non-time bombed key in the final builds.  I’m confident after this incident, we will have a new checklist item to check the expiration date of any VPC image that we use to ensure that it’s expiration conforms to our overall release expiration time window. Anyway, I’m sorry and I assure you we’ll take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  Any time you do something new, there’s a period of learning all of the things that can go wrong.  We make mistakes just like anyone else.  It’s just that when we make them, it affects a lot of people.  We’re mindful of that and try to be extremely careful but none-the-less occasionally things get through.  I hope the various mitigations we’ve described prevents this from being too big of an issue for you. Thanks,



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