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Weekends, national holidays, or even the day before are bad news because if there is an unforeseen glitch few or none of your support or programming staff will be around to fix it. However, the week before a long weekend is an excellent time to release software, as people have spare time and often use it to upgrade and install new software.

One Author's Experience

In the 1990s, I used to develop Internet e-mail software and one version was running about a month late. It had been used unmodified for almost six weeks by a large, diverse, and capable beta test crew, with no negative feedback. It was released on a Friday evening and 2,000 people downloaded it the first day. The result was tepid anarchy. No one had taken into account new users on the original Windows 3.1 release (most people were on 3.11 by then) and using certain products where the manufacturers overwrote an official Microsoft Control Dynamic Link Library (DLL, a set of programs that can be called by other programs to perform common tasks) with their own variant.

The programmers located the problem within a few minutes. The solution was to do a version test at installation, and if a bastardized DLL was running, the install program would copy over the official one. If this had been done earlier in the week, only a few users would have had the problem. Fortunately, customers were impressed with the fix rate, but that problem should have been spotted earlier—in short, everyone had egg on their face, albeit a quail-sized egg.

Experience strongly suggests that it is wise to allow a good week after clearing quality control for problems such as version third-party conflicts to surface. Then, on the Monday of the following week, double-check your results (builds, bug reports, fresh installs, and so on) and at the same time brief support and sales before releasing your program first thing on Tuesday.

Table 11-2 shows an ideal release schedule.

Table 11-2 Release Schedule

Day

Action

Week before

Finalize testing

Monday

Final checks, brief sales, support, and so on

Tuesday

Release

Wednesday

Support in high state of readiness

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