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At Microsoft, the patterns & practices group has been employing software patterns to distill, reuse, and communicate guidance about software design and development. This effort made a number of contributions to the patterns world, including several books and a community site (patternshare.org) aimed at bringing pattern authors and users together. Since then, patterns have also became a common ingredient in some of our other products, such as reusable application blocks and software factories. Our sustained investment in patterns, large user community, customer-driven development approach, and usage and customer satisfaction metrics provide us with unique insights into how practitioners use patterns. They also give us opportunities to identify and address some of their key challenges. Bridging the gap between the patterns expert community and the typical pattern user is critical to achieving the full benefits of software patterns.