Microspeak: Tick-tock

Raymond Chen


As you might imagine, there’s a lot of stuff that needs to happen on the opening day of //build. For //build 2016, my job was to publish the new samples to the Github repo. And //build 2016 was when I was introduced to the term tick-tock:

Please review your items in the tick tock from a timing perspective and send me any corrections. Visual Studio is pivoting on the conclusion of the keynote, and our plan is to update the SDK as soon as Update 2 goes out.

The attached document was a spreadsheet that listed the chronology of events, along with other information like the task number in the task database (not shown here). Something like this:

OrderGo LiveEventOwner
19:00amKeynote begins
29:00amPublish Bunion home pageAlice
39:00amPublish Bunion SDK for downloadBob
49:30amHalitosis Update 2 released
59:30amUpdate Halitosis home pageAlice
69:30amUpdate Halitosis download pageBob
79:40amUpdate Halitosis redirectsCharles, David
1410:40amEat the donuts before they go stale
(not available on Skype)
1511:00amKeynote ends
1611:00amPublish Windows developer blog postEllen
1712:00pmVisual Studio Update 2
1812:00pmPublish Windows SDK for downloadBob
1912:00pmPublish Windows SDK redirectsCharles
2012:00pmPublish Github samplesRaymond

I think it was nice of Bob to remind people to eat the donuts. I was not in the room, so I lost out on the donuts.

The items in red are external events we have no control over, but they act as signals for us to proceed with the next steps. Therefore, everybody had to keep an eye on their prerequisites to make sure the steps occurred in the right order. (I’m guessing the term tick-tock evokes the idea that when the prerequisite action ticks, the dependent action tocks.)

Anyway, it wasn’t as crazy as this.

Another tick tock document I found covered a Windows launch event, starting three days before launch and continuing through two days after launch.

I had difficulty finding good citations for tick tock, mostly because the phrase is too common to be searchable. One document I found was kind enough to provide sort of a definition via context:

Attached is the Contoso Launch tick-tock document which includes the timing, execution instructions, coverage, and links to detailed guidance.

The timeline was not down to the minute like the one I had. It covered a campaign that took a month to play out.

Anyway, from what I can gather, the term tick tock is used to refer to the schedule of events surrounding a product announcement.


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