Eating your own dog food, also called dogfooding, is when a company (usually, a software company) uses the products that it makes. In 1988, Microsoft manager Paul Maritz wrote an email titled ‘Eating our own Dogfood,’ challenging his team to increase internal usage of the company’s product.

From there, the usage of the term spread through the company. The term is believed to have derived from a 1980s television advertisements for Alpo dog food, where TV actor, Lorne Greene pointed out that he fed Alpo to his own dogs.

Dogfooding can be a way for a company to demonstrate confidence in its own products, and hence a kind of testimonial advertising. For example, Microsoft and Google emphasize the internal use of their own software products. The idea behind ‘eating your own dog food’ is that if you expect customers to buy your products, you should also be willing to use them.

Forcing those who design products to actually use and rely on them is often thought to improve quality and usability, but software developers may be blind to usability and may have knowledge to make software work that an end user will lack. Dogfooding may be unrealistic, as customers will always have a choice of different company’s products to use together, and the product may not be being used as intended. The process can lead to a loss of productivity and demoralisation, or at its extreme to ‘Not Invented Here syndrome’ – i.e., only using internal products.

Examples of dogfooding include: Apple Computer president Michael Scott in 1980 wrote a memo announcing that ‘EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY!! NO MORE TYPEWRITERS ARE TO BE PURCHASED, LEASED, etc., etc.’ by the computer company, with a goal to eliminate typewriters by 1 January 1981.

Also, the development of Windows NT at Microsoft involved over 200 developers in small teams, and it was held together by dogfooding. Microsoft does runs international network on 99 percent Windows technology, including servers, workstations, and edge security. Microsoft’s use of Windows for its high-traffic operations tipped many doubters over to Windows’ side of the fence.

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