I have been working on the Microsoft stack for almost 20 years, and now directly at Microsoft for over a year, and one of the things that have become obvious is that Microsoft is actually looking for genuine community feedback. If anything we feel like we do not have enough active mechanisms to get input from the community, we are always looking for folks to talk to. I actually tweeted about this and got an inordinate amount of feedback so I thought I would put this somewhere more permanent.
So a couple of caveats before I dive in, I am mostly talking about the Developer Division (dev tooling), and the folks who care for products like Visual Studio, Code, .NET, C#, Roslyn, TypeScript, Debugger, Profiler etc. I limit this conversation to this division because, frankly, this is what I know well. I am sure other areas have similar options.
So we have a Developer Community site and this is the place we you can either Report a problem or even Suggest a feature. It is that simple, as a Program Manager (PM) on the Debugger and Diagnostics team I am constantly looking at the Suggest a feature list for items that might be related to my area of concern. For example if you submit an item relating to IntelliTrace it gets vetted and my team tries to figure out if this has been fixed already or if this should be a net new feature or something we may consider for the future. You can also contribute to the Developer Community site directly from directly inside Visual Studio and Visual Studio for Mac via the feedback options.
As part of our internal feature development we also create these feature tickets as a mechanism to give customers the opportunity to see what we are working on.
How does this help? The community is able to vote on each suggestion or feature and these votes are critical to us.
For a bit more perspective my manager, and my manager’s manager all see these numbers in aggregate form. I am, quite frankly, held accountable for how I manage this backlog, I can justify new work or even reprioritize work given the kinds of feedback we receive.
Even if you have no original suggestions a strong opinion (or just a vote) on existing suggestions is incredibly helpful. Every Microsoft PM knows the easiest way to get approval to pursue new features is with verifiable endorsements based on direct customer feedback. If you are part of a local developer community get them to vote and comment on issues you have submitted too. The votes and comments provide PMs with the momentum and evidence we need to move forward on an issue.
Clearly there are exceptions our directors and leaders have grand vision statements and missions, we have tools that need to cooperate, and enterprise obligations, but if all things are equal voting will give one suggestion or feature priority over another.
I try to do my best to keep an eye on Twitter or community bloggers to get an impression about what is or is not working, however, that does not scale well as a mechanism for feedback. Try to think of the Developer Community site as a way to take get your voice directly in our meetings.
My good colleague Igor Velikorossov also reminded me that GitHub is a great way to provide feedback to the Visual Studio and tools teams. So many of our core products are now being developed by Microsoft engineers directly in the open. At this point engineers from all over the globe are filing issues and submitting PRs that directly address issues that are important to them. Currently Microsoft has at least two of the Top 30 highest velocity OSS projects:
We also have a Top 5 language on GitHub with C#!
Interested in contributing or just giving feedback here are just a tiny fraction of the places you can go and provide feedback or even submit a PR: