PAID USER A – contact XXXXX for questions

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this lBurger?

“Now thats a fire!”
“Ice cream!”

For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. The conquerors rode in a trimphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him.Pizza?
Sometimes his children robed in white stoodwith him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.Burrito?

Some users may have noticed the message above when they logged in to Hotmail yesterday afternoon, wondering what’s up? Perhaps an early April Fools joke? Maybe Hotmail was hacked? Nothing that exciting, I’m happy to report. Yesterday we shipped a new version of our site, with upgrades such as Photo Mail, stronger Messenger integration, a new domain among other things. But not on the feature list was a speech from Gladiator. So, what’s the deal?

When we released the new version of the code for the Hotmail release, by accident we left enabled a test page with test content, producing the hilarous message you see above that included the email address of a tester to contact during our internal testing (who has since been bombarded with email from all over, including a resume). We noticed the “issue” about 10 minutes after the code went live to the site. Thankfully, during a release, everybody from every walk of life gets together in a room with laptops in hand and monitoring on projectors, much like the well documented Windows ship room, called a release rally. Here is a picture from it:


During the rally people are on point to make decisions and be reactive to any issues that might come up (shipping software that hits hundreds of millions of people can cause the craziest things to happen), so as you imagine when the test content went out to the site, people started scrabling and did an great job of finding the root cause and making a fix. The end game and release day are the most fun and invigorating parts of shipping software — decisions happen real time, tensions run high and you’re on the line for delivering a service for millions of users. We also got coverage from Neowin and based on the comments on the site, people got a good laugh out of it, like a bunch of us here did as well.