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How We Test Software at Microsoft (PRO-best Practices) Paperback – 10 Dec 2008
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About the Author
Alan Page is Director of Test Excellence where he oversees technical training and provides consulting for Microsoft testers. He's one of Microsoft's first Test Architects and has worked on various versions of Windows® and Windows CE.
Ken Johnston is Group Manager for the Microsoft® Office Internet Platform and Operations team. He is a former Test Lead, Test Manager, and Director of Test Excellence.
Bj Rollison is a Test Architect on the Engineering Excellence team. Rollison worked on numerous product releases and later became Director of Test. He's also a trade-journal writer and conference speaker, and teaches testing at the university level.
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Top customer reviews
With Vista not exactly taking the world by storm, the usual raft of security patches being uploaded to my PC and then the Zune problem hitting the press and Microsoft were not exactly the Toyota of the software world
That was just a lazy opinion though - anyone with an interest in tech should be wondering how one of the giants does what it does - and as a tester I should be finding out how things are done there ( if only so I could do things differently )
I found it to be an excellent book, lots of tales from the trenches, explanations of the problems MS faces, how they try to overcome them - all intermingled with general testing theory
The first part of the book gives a lot of background of Microsoft - sometimes a bit too rah-rah but sets the base for the rest of the book
Part II gets onto test techniques and although I thought I'd read most testing theory books written I still came across a few new bits - and the theory is interspersed with tales of it being used in practice
Part III covers tools and systems and ranges from bug trackers to user feedback to testing Software Plus Services
Finally the book finishes with a look at the future and the test scructure in place to try and lead MS there
The best complement that I can pay the book is that I wrote a lot of Post-It notes whilst reading it and it has already led to a few blog posts and discussions on testing websites
The book is divided into four main parts. The first sets the scene with the background of software engineering and software testing in Microsoft, describing the change in culture and attitude bringing the idea of a test engineer as opposed to a tester. This part is useful is you want to understand Microsoft's structure for testing, and perhaps to draw lessons for your own organisation's structure. The second part describes HOW TO test, looking at test case design techniques and the analysis of risk. Part 3 focuses on the management of the testing via tools and systems, but also includes a chapter on non-functional testing, which for me would sit more happily in section 2. The final part of the book discusses the future for testing at Microsoft.
My suggestion is that if you are doing testing or managing testing, start by reading part 2 and part 3 of the book. You will get some good insights into useful techniques and tools which you can apply to your own work, to help in designing, executing and controlling your testing, as well as in obtaining and using customer feedback. These chapters cover a wide range of techniques with good examples.
I found part 1 and part 4 less convincing on first read, but on returning to them after enjoying parts 2 and 3 realised that I was being somewhat British and reserved; the exuberance and enthusiasm that the authors display for their company and their work is genuine, heartfelt and deserved, as well as reflecting the culture of the company.
I recommend this book thoroughly; it will be a useful addition not just to your book shelf but to your work desk. It will help testers, test managers, developers and analysts to understand and apply improved test methods in their daily work.
So now moving on to the book itself! After reading the first few pages I thought it was going to be more Microsoft centric and less about the testing (I was proven wrong later in the book)! Although, I must admit I enjoyed every bit of the first part. The book has been divided in four parts, Part I is `About Microsoft', Part II is `About Testing', Part III is `Test Tools & Systems' and Part IV is `About the Future'.
These parts consist of chapters, ranging from Software Engineering at Microsoft in Part I to Analysing Risk with Code Complexity in Part II to Testing Software Plus Services in Part III and concluding with Solving Tomorrow's Problems Today in Part IV.
In Part I, of course I enjoyed reading about the details of software engineering at Microsoft, but I particularly enjoyed the tester DNA term! I think it could be used very usefully to demonstrate testing needs specialised skills! Also, the career path diagrams are particularly useful to understand what career paths potentially exist in software testing.
Part II, focuses more on software testing techniques. I will not discuss this in too much detail as the material contained is what you would expect. But what makes these chapters easier to read than testing techniques for a certification is the fact that the techniques are illustrated with practical examples, the authors explain techniques which we as testers are assumed to know completely. So this part is particularly useful for testers who are involved with test case designing.
Part III of the book focuses on Test Tools and Systems. It starts with an excellent chapter on `Managing Bugs & Test Cases'. And I say excellent, because I just couldn't put the book down when I was reading this chapter. The concept of the Bug bar is very interesting, though I am not sure how that would be applicable to a scenario where the developer is only assigned for bug fixing. It also discusses the concept of bug triage. The remaining chapters discuss automation, non-functional testing and information about tools, customer feedback, and testing software plus services.
Part IV is all about the future. It briefly describes the challenges that Microsoft faces, and I suppose by the time you are reading this chapter you are most likely thinking about challenges that your team or you as a software test professional would be facing. How much can the challenges being faced by Microsoft generalised. But the best thing about the last part is this quote by Machiavelli and its parallels in software testing, with which I will conclude this review!
Machiavelli wrote, "In the beginning of the malady it is easy to cure but difficult to detect, but in the course of time not having been either detected or treated in the beginning, it becomes easy to detect but difficult to cure"
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