Microsoft Seeks to ‘TAP’ Elite Beta Tester Pool

Microsoft Seeks to ‘TAP’ Elite Beta Tester Pool

Mary Jo Foley

On Thursday, Microsoft notified some of its SQL Server 2005 testers that they are eligible to join the next phase of the “Yukon” beta program.

As noted in a beta tester e-mail note posted on the ieXbeta Web site, Microsoft is seeking customers to join its Technology Adoption Program (TAP) beta program for its next-generation database.

But more interesting than the e-mail itself is TAP.

TAP is the granddaddy of Microsoft’s beta programs centered on a core group of key customers and partners who are early adopters of key Microsoft technologies.

TAP is not a replacement for Microsoft’s mega-beta tests (public and private) for products such as Windows, Office and Visual Studio. Instead, it’s more of an “elite” beta-test program.

TAP, which quietly launched in the fall of 2003, supersedes Microsoft’s Rapid Deployment Program (RDP), Early Adoption Program (EAP) and Joint Development Program (JDP).

TAP is reserved for a select group of customers and partners with whom Microsoft is interested in holding “an ongoing dialogue on pre-release code,” according to the company.

For the most part TAP participants are those who plan to put the beta code into early production.

“TAP is a framework that gives customers a consistent view of pre-release customer programs,” said Linda Apsley, lead program manager with Microsoft’s Customer Experience Team.

TAP currently consists of four different programs: 1) product validation (similar to the JDP); 2) product evaluation (like a traditional beta program); 3) rapid deployment (akin to the Microsoft RDP); and 4) a new “solutions implementation” program that covers the post-release-to-manufacturing product phase.

TAP currently applies to Windows client, server, Office, Systems Management Server and a handful of other products. Apsley said Microsoft is planning to turn the program into a company-wide initiative, applying to Microsoft’s small/mid-size business, gaming and other business and consumer products.

Microsoft also is looking to add independent software vendors (ISVs) into the TAP test fold, Apsley said.

(This is an edited version of an article which appeared in the February 19, 2004, issue of the Microsoft Watch newsletter.)

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Microsoft Watch.