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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How to determine the Operating System support for your product - Part 6

This blog has seen a series of posts on deciding the Operating System supported by your application. The previous post (Operating Systems supported by your application - Part 5) talked about the kind of constrains that there are for an operating system that is not supported - whether these prevent the user from installing the application on that operating system, or just give a warning and let the user install on the specific operating system. This post will talk in more detail about the process for the various stakeholders in the team that come to a decision about the operating systems to support.
The most important stakeholder is the Product Manager. It is the product manager who is responsible for the final state of the product, the system requirements for the product (which includes the operating systems to be supported in the application). The Product Manager is also the one who is responsible for the revenue requirements for the product, and supporting or dropping an operating system can make a difference to the revenue generated by a product by a few percentage (and these few percentage can make a huge difference in terms of whether targets are met or missed). Hence, it is for the Product Manager to take a final call on whether the product should drop a specific Operating System or not. However, it is perfectly fine for team members to be able to provide a lot of updates and constraints to the product manager.
Another important stakeholder is the QE team (the testers). During the testing phase, the team needs to draw up a plan of which are all the operating systems that need to be supported, need to decide the amount of effort to be spent in each operating system, and then actually put in the effort. Suppose a team supports Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. In such a case, the team would use data about the approximate number of users on each operating system in order to prioritize the testing effort on each operating system (no testing team has enough resourcing to do all the tests and spend the effort that they would like to do). But you would still expect that if there are 4 operating systems, then the team would spend around atleast 15% on each operating system testing. In some cases, the testing for an operating system might take more time because there are more defects to be found on such an operating system (for example, we found a lot more problems on Vista, many of them related to the security issues because of the user security accesses control introduced in Vista).
So, the testing team would want that if there is a possibility of reducing an operating system because of a lesser number of users on such a system, then they would hold a number of discussions with the Product Manager on this topic, to ensure that their voice is heard and if they have any data, that is also passed onto the Product Manager (such data could be the increasing number of bugs that they are finding on older operating systems).
The development team are also important stakeholders. They are responsible for ensuring that the code is there for functionality to work the same on all the supported operating systems, something that can be problematic sometimes because the operating systems behave differently. In addition, there may be components in use that are not supported as well on older operating systems.
All these are stakeholders and opinions that need to be factored in before taking a decision on whether to drop a specific operating system. The decision needs to be taken after factoring in a lot of points.

In the next post, I will add more points on this particular topic (Operating Systems support for your application - Part 7)

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