TAP Once for Quality

Posted: Jun 02, 2009  1 comments  

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Microsoft is home to a number of acronyms, to the point where it is sometimes referred to as TLA (Three-Letter Acronym) land. I am a recent graduate of an acronym program: TAP, which stands for Test Apprentice Program. This program was designed to take non-CS majors with a penchant for breaking things and turn them into qualified software testers.

TAP is a 9-month program where each participant spends half a day in training and the other half working with a team in Microsoft as a test trainee. Over time, each “tapper” picks up coding skills and becomes able to contribute more to the testing effort on their team. By the end of the program, tappers are capable of applying their own unique outside-the-box thinking style toward testing a product with which they are already familiar.

I joined Microsoft and the IIS team as a mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Washington about 10 months ago. TAP was an amazing opportunity for me, as someone who discovered how much they were interested in computer programming when they were already hip-deep in another degree. Not to mention – the job was all about breaking stuff (without the risk of missing fingers)!

From day one, tester training was all about software quality, or just Quality (you could tell it was capitalized from how it was spoken). How do you define it? How can you measure it? The answer is that it all comes down to customer needs and expectations. A person could test that the code works the way that it’s coded, but a good tester will make sure that it works the way the customer wants it to.

The IIS team, and Microsoft in general, is extremely customer focused. We’re driven by questions: what do our customers want? What are they trying to do with IIS or what would they like to do? How can we show them what’s cool and easy with IIS that they might not know about? Customer feedback is treated very seriously, often birthing new features or evolving existing ones.

I’m looking forward to continuing here at Microsoft on the IIS team. It will be a constant challenge to keep learning about what people like and don’t like about IIS, as well as how we can make IIS better. I’d like to use this blog to tell people about interesting things in IIS or Microsoft technology and culture in general. 

Welcome to TLA land.

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