The importance of having a review panel of twelve-year-old boys, episode 2

Raymond Chen

Microsofties love their acronyms, but you have to remember to send every potential name through a review panel of twelve-year-old boys to identify the lurking embarrassments.

When it came time in Windows 7 to come up with the names of the various subteams, two of the proposed names were Core OS eXperience and Find and Use eXperience, using the trendy letter X to abbreviate the trendy capitalization of the word eXperience.

The naming system was promptly reconsidered.

One of the subteams of Windows 8 is known as User-Centered Experience. The original name of the subteam was the You-Centered Experience (because it’s all about you, the user), and they somewhat inadvisedly decided to adopt the nickname YOU, believing themselves to be sooooo clever.

What this actually did was create Abbot-and-Costello-level confusion.

“There’s a work item assigned to YOU to handle this case.”

No, I don’t have any such work item.

“No, not you. I mean the YOU team.”

Some time after the standard acronyms and abbreviations for all the teams were settled upon, one of the reporting systems used to track the progress of the project was set up to allow reports to be generated not only for specific individuals or lists of individuals, but also for organizational units or feature teams. If you wanted to generate a report for Bob and everybody who reports through him, you could enter o_bob as the target of the report instead of having to type the name of every single person who worked for Bob. And if you wanted to generate a report for everybody who works on the XYZ feature team, you could enter f_xyz.

This meant that generating the reports for the YOU team required you to type f_you. The members of the YOU team were not pleased by this, and they prevailed upon the people who run the reporting system to change their notation. The request was granted, and the syntax for selecting an entire feature team was changed to ft_xyz instead of just f_xyz.

I would have argued that this was a problem of the YOU team’s own creation. Next time, don’t pick such a confusing name for your team.

Bonus chatter: During Windows XP development, we didn’t use these fancy team acronyms. The teams were simply numbered. The kernel and drivers team was team 1. The terminal services team was team 4. The user interface was team 6. I forget most of the other numbers. But as I recall, there was no team 7, perhaps in tribute to Building 7.


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