Countdown to launch: Behind the scenes at Xbox One

“It’s a once-a-decade opportunity.”

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Over the summer, we talked with Nic, an intern who works as a PM on Xbox. You might remember that Nic’s team asked him to return this fall to support the launch of Xbox One. The November 22 release is coming up fast. We’re curious about the behind-the-scenes at Studio C.

It’s rare that you’ll get to hear what a launch is like in the thick of it. I had the chance to get the scoop on what Nic’s been up to. Here’s a snapshot:

“I work on the team creating the TV application. We’re experimenting with things people do while they watch TV.  I had experience with telemetry and was able to lend a hand on several parts of the project relating to how people used the product.

This close to launch, I’m trying to help the team any way I can. We’re running the product through its paces. I can pick up the slack and help developers by looking at general bugs or things related to speech. Here’s an example: Let’s say you want to watch sports. You say, ‘Xbox watch ESPN.’ If it takes you to a different channel, or Xbox thinks you didn’t say anything, we troubleshoot.  Sometimes it’s something we have to fine-tune, and other times another team addresses it.

When you buy your new Xbox, and you’ve seen the commercials and the cool things it can do with the NFL and if it doesn’t work, that’s bad for everybody. We’re trying to make sure those experiences are good right out of the box.

There is no typical day. Every day there’s so much change that can happen. In 24 hours or less, everything can change and you have to address things in a way that’s totally different. That’s one thing that is especially different for me as an intern this year. Before, as an intern on Visual Studio, if I missed work for a seminar or an intern event, it was not a big deal because the work had more of a consistent pace and longer development cycles. Now, even just missing five minutes of a meeting could cause someone to miss a crucial piece of information.  As a result, I’ve had to be more punctual and on top of things.

One of my favorite things about my role: Every day I get to work with different people, and so many technologies, because I work with outside teams, our devs with their devs, collaborating on a feature together. As a PM, your skills are about negotiating with different teams, figuring things out. It’s not necessarily managing, but it’s important that you understand the big picture and use your communication skills effectively to lead.

It’s different from being at school. When you’re at school, you’re coding either by yourself or a group of two. Here, our group of 50 people is working with their 50, rolling out to another group of 100 people. I’ve gained an appreciation for how complicated this is.

One of the coolest things about working on technology is the people. I am constantly meeting people and I feel like I’m part of something bigger. And maybe someday our teams will be working together on something even cooler, just because of a person I met.”

 

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