MSF was created as a response to customer demand. MCS used to receive calls from customers and partners asking such questions as How does Microsoft handle roles within a team? How does Microsoft structure projects? And so forth. Rather than continue fielding these questions, the MSF project was developed and the first version came out in 1991 to "codify" their process.
The Microsoft Solutions Framework is not a process methodology per se. It is a framework to help you create and instantiate processes.
MSF is constantly evolving. For example, each of the product teams at Microsoft has their own way of managing and developing software. Some of the approaches are successful, some less so. The lessons learned are rolled in (and show up) in each subsequent release of MSF.
The goals around MSF have also changed and evolved. One of the challenges in the IT industry is to get a handle on the risk and complexities of software development. Cost and time overruns are all too common—the sad truth is that too many of us use guesswork as an estimating tool. One common scenario in the companies I've seen is when the marketing, sales, or business analyst team hands off projects to the development team. A pressure is generated to deliver on time, to "time box" the project. Unfortunately, often there is no appreciation of the complexity of what is promised in the sale. The complexity of business requirements is escalating, therefore so is complexity of ...