Losing the game of Last Checkin Chicken two products in a row

Raymond Chen

Some time ago, Larry Osterman wrote about the unofficial game of Last Checkin Chicken, wherein teams “compete” to avoid being the one responsible for the last change to a product. The competition is purely virtual; nobody really keeps score, and the “winner” is soon forgotten.

Unless you’re that winner.

I know someone who won the Last Checkin Chicken prize not once, but twice! My colleague made the last checkin for Windows 2000, and purely coincidentally, also made the last checkin for Windows XP. It’s not something to be proud of, but it’s not a badge of shame either.

As part of the game, teams will try to make “remora” checkins. (I just made up that term.) These are fixes that you want to get in at the last minute, but which you cannot justify on their own merits as worth delaying the release of the product another day for. You still have to argue your fix to the release management team (and your fix had better be rock solid), and if release management grants you remora status, then your bug fix is set aside. If a serious bug is discovered elsewhere, then your remora bug gets to hitch a free ride on the window opened by that other bug. On the other hand, if no serious bugs are found that force a delay of the product’s release, then your fix goes into the next update (be it an online update, a service pack, whatever).

It’s sort of the developer version of bug bar limbo.

Pre-emptive snarky comment: “This is why Microsoft products suck.”

Pre-emptive Igor Levicki comment: “Windows Vista sucks.”


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