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EPM 2007 Conference Post Report – and SP1 Information
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, Booed at Project Server Technical Conference

On Tuesday, October 30, 2007, Mike Angiulo, General Manager for the Microsoft Project Business Unit, announced that the Project Server 2007 SP1 may not be released until March or April of 2008.  Here is how this information was "cajoled" out of Mr. Angiulo.  At the end of a keynote speech given by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO at the recent Technical Conference, a question was asked of Mr. Ballmer during the Q&A regarding when the Project Server 2007 SP1 will be released.  Mr. Ballmer looked at Mr. Angiulo and Mr. Angiulo answered that that information would be announced in three weeks.  Part of the audience (ourselves included) immediately booed (it sounded like a typical English parliament session with very clear feed back about Mr. Angiulo’s attempt to dance around an important issue on everyone’s mind). 

From what we saw, Mr. Ballmer cast a "strong" glance at Mr. Angiulo, who recovered quickly and gave the audience the information it was asking for; “when will Microsoft fix some of the many problems with Project Server 2007 and publicly release the fixes as SP1?”  

We do not know that last time Mr. Ballmer was booed, but we are thinking it has been awhile. As for the answer to the question….

Mr. Angiulo said that a firm release data for SP1 will be announced in three weeks but SP1 could be as late as March 2008.

One reason for the late release of SP1 conveyed by Mr. Angiulo was "we (Microsoft) wanted to release it with Office SP1, due in the March/April timeframe." 

Never can we remember a Microsoft Project or Project Server service patch released along with Office service patches.  As a customer I would be pretty irritated about this excuse. If Microsoft has fixed something like core functional problems and thoroughly tested the fix, then not releasing the service patch to the entire user base isn’t being customer focused - an attitude typically associated with market dominance and we have only ourselves to blame for that.

Frankly, we were disappointed in that response from Mr. Angiulo, and with all the little tips throughout the conference from Microsoft folks on ways to deal with functional and technical problems. Like the following tip for opening a project that is “stuck in check-out” when you have already saved it, closed it, and checked the project in. Here is the tip: “Open the project in read only, close it, and then try to open it again.” We got lots of those little snippets of wisdom during the conference and some we have tested without the expected results.

As for the success of the Microsoft Project Technical Conference, it failed to gain much momentum, provided little value, cost too much and finally fizzled out on Wednesday afternoon with people walking around asking, “Is this it?” It is our strong opinion that the conference tended to parallel most EPM deployments when they have not been planned well, not driven from the top-down, and without with a strong performance management system in place. Clearly, the EPM product group is not being managed well and the result is:

  1. An EPM 2007 system with far too many problems that are not being publically addressed, and

  2. The most lack-luster industry conference we have ever attended.

Maybe this post from the product group blog says it all, they are simply “closed for the season” but still taking license fees. See: http://blogs.msdn.com/project/

Next year, we think they should consider holding the conference in a location that could support the technical requirements of their guests…maybe a city that can at least provide internet service at the conference site, a little more coffee and a few more chairs and tables… maybe in a city like Mountain View next to Google.

By the way, as the Project blog states, they are “hard at work designing the next version of Project Server” and Mr. Ballmer did provide a demo. Stupid us, we thought they would be working hard to address all of the EPM 2007 issues, problems, and bugs.   

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