It's been a crazy week. On Wednesday, my team released the first beta of Internet Explorer 8.0, the next version of our web browser. There's always a flurry of activity leading up to a big event like this -- lots of details to get right, last minute fire drills when something doesn't work right, and so on. Because we were announcing the beta during the opening keynote at MIX08 (no, I didn't go this time, but you can read my backstage account from MIX06 here) we had to have everything ready to go by noon on Wednesday. This added to the pressure since we couldn't slip. There were a huge set of coordinated events that had to happen together. Fortunately, the team pulled it off and everything (mostly) went off without a hitch.
The countdown banner in the photo above hangs above the door to the elevators (you can see our nice neon IE logo too). It originally said "IE8 Beta 1 in n Days" but we had to change it because we were keeping the launch date under wraps and didn't want any visitors to see it (there's a press briefing room on our floor that's used by other teams as well).
Anyway, after the signoff, we started blogging about the release (finally!) starting with the announcement of the release. There was the predictable avalanche of blog comments, bugs, and newsgroup questions to respond to. I think it's pretty fun to interact with the community, although I admit I could do with fewer rude commenters. You'll see replies from me in spurts on the IE Blog posts; I try to jump in whenever I have a few free minutes.
Those of us who weren't at MIX watched the keynote in a conference room and had some sparkling wine. Later in the afternoon, we had a bigger shindig with bbq, drinks, IE8 t-shirts, and two Rock Band setups. The team has been crazy about Rock Band lately; we seem to have it at all of our events and even have had some late night office Rock Band action. It's actually a good way to get to know each other, and it's pretty fun seeing who the good singers and drummers are (harder to tell about the guitar/bass players.) Here's Jason, our Test Manager playing drums (he's actually a drummer but was new to Rock Band.) I love the IE team; we have a lot of fun together.
Anyway, it's great to finally be public about IE8 and start talking about it. It's definitely aimed at developers, so we're not showing a lot of cool new end user stuff yet. If you'd like to give it a whirl, you can download it here. On to Beta 2 and release! (And no, I'm not going to say when we're releasing, so don't ask...)