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Windows Operating Systems Software

Microsoft's New Core OS Team Learning from Linux 732

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the open-the-os-and-really-learn-from-linux dept.
sokk writes "Seems like Microsoft is paying attention to the Linux way of doing things. According to itworld.com, a new central engineering division will work on the core of Windows: "The Windows Core Operating System Division (COSD), within the company's Platforms Group, will be responsible for the core OS platform, including development, program management and testing, Microsoft said in a statement sent via e-mail.". A little further down the page analyst Rob Enderle: "They have been studying Linux extensively. Part of their study has been on how Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility,". "
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Microsoft's New Core OS Team Learning from Linux

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  • More Power To Them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anotherone (132088) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:18PM (#7746708)
    It's not like Linux developers haven't learned (or blatently copied) anything from Windows.
    • by Duncan3 (10537) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:20PM (#7746732) Homepage
      Nah, Linux developers have cut out the middleman and are copying Apple directly now :)
  • by smaug195 (535681) * on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:19PM (#7746718)
    Microsoft isn't stupid, Linux is a great study in OS Development, and they are using it to their advantage.
    • by cscx (541332) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:27PM (#7746828) Homepage
      I'd say. Wait till Bill Gates dumps his haircut and grows a full-out Santa Claus beard in the style of Jon 'maddog' Hall.
    • by runlvl0 (198575) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:35PM (#7746925) Homepage Journal
      Indeed. In fact, it sounds like they're not studying the technology, they're studying the management practices.

      "They have been studying Linux extensively. Part of their study has been on how Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility," Enderle said.

      It's doublefunny that "The newly formed division... will report to Senior Vice President Brian Valentine [microsoft.com], the Redmond, Washington, company said."

      That's Brian Valentine, of "Linux is the long-term threat against our core business. Never forget that!" [theregister.co.uk] and Our products just aren't engineered for security." [infoworld.com]

      Best of luck with that.
    • by argoff (142580) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:55PM (#7747113)
      Microsoft will not win over linux in the market place, because they believe their own propaganda - that copyrights are some type of free market property right and not an overbearing government regulation. The GPL accounts for that, the MS EULA doesn't.

      Once they understand that restricting what people copy is not some kind of inherent right, but an inherent burdon that is no longer workable in the informaiton age - it will probably be too late for them.
  • by Craig Maloney (1104) * on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:19PM (#7746727) Homepage
    Microsoft better watch out! That GPL software might corrupt their innovation!
    • by niko9 (315647) * on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:28PM (#7746841)
      I thought the GPL gave you cancer? Have I been on prophylactic chemotherapy for naught?

    • by zanderredux (564003) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:05PM (#7747206)
      ...Microsoft researchers found out that they couldn't keep Windows stable, even after the last major rewrite, which modularized the Windows' kernel, implemented fully-compliant POSIX and is known to be compiled with GCC.

      "It seems that GPL must be in place to bring stability to the thing", said one of the core group leaders.

      It is puzzling since the exact same version of Windows was setup and only the GPL-labeled boxes were able to keep an extended uptime. The same core group leader said "It is extremely odd. We suspect that the GPL has some magical attributes to it, making everything under those three letters run better. See, we've made a test and enabled users to select the licensing scheme, whether to follow our usual EULAs or GPL. After the selection, the software was installed as usual, with no differences whatsoever, since we did not let users customize the install after the license selection. We found out that installations made when the user clicked on the EULA option tended to be more susceptible to hangups than installs made under the GPL".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:20PM (#7746731)
    Denigrate it loudly while duplicating it quietly.
  • by bartash (93498) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:20PM (#7746733)
    Is there any evidence that this is anything other then an organizational change? I mean apart from the thoughts of an analyst who doesn't really know? Analysts get compensated for getting their company's name in the press.
    • by SkArcher (676201) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:44PM (#7747018) Journal
      Part of their study has been on how Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility
      An organizational change is exactly what they would need to be able to do this. Having the code open and available is what promotes this.

      Flexibility is GNU/Linux middle name...

      MS on the other hand don't allow their code to be seen anywhere it isn't 'supposed' to be. The lack of restrictions in Open Source development allows programmers to do whatever they want, not to follow the established trail of the development model. Okay, a lot of the trails Open Source follows will be dead ends, but the maximisation of effort (and the open nature of peer review) means that these get seen and die off reasonably quickly. MS on the other hand would have great focus, but wouldn't have as wide a view of the posibilities, nor as honest a view of problems.

      Shooting themselves in BOTH feet.
    • by swb (14022) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:09PM (#7747262)
      Perhaps an organizational change is entirely appropriate and the right thing. I don't think that anyone would seriously argue that MS doesn't have any good developers.

      What they seem plagued by are marketing-driven technologies that keep getting bolted on to Windows, broadening the code base and making the overall focus of the development harder for anyone to see. This level of integration may make IIS faster or enable easier functionality for some third party development, also makes it hard to define what Windows core is and who's responsible for it.

      A group of developers focused on the core of Windows (kernel, networking, filesystem) should be able to better focus on making it work well and keep security at a higher level, among other things.

      The real challenge will be who defines what the core of Windows is, and what they define it to be. If they allow the scope of Windows core to be everything you get in C:\ after installing the OS, it won't be more than cosmetic. However, if they define it succintly and at least internally acknowledge that the kernel, the filesystem and the networking code is the core, and other stuff like IIS or Internet Explorer is not, this could mean real benefits for Windows.
    • by Schmucky The Cat (687075) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:19PM (#7747372) Homepage
      No, this is exactly just a shuffle of people in administration. The org chart changes and nothing else.

      "Core" referring to the kernel and drivers has been an org since at least NT4. After 1999, the various groups all got their own managed codebases (build labs) that were periodically merged. Core OS of course, was the first one.

  • Ms (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the_real_rs (727832) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:20PM (#7746734)
    Maybe someday we can all work together and learn from each other. Linux got a few ideas from windows. and windows from linux. Hey if windows can be more stable and work more for the user, more power to Microsoft.
  • OK then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Salsaman (141471) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:20PM (#7746742) Homepage
    "Part of their study has been on how Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility.

    Maybe because it is open source ? The consistency surely comes from having the entire codebase to refer to, and the flexibility from people being free to suggest any patches they like to the kernel.

    • Not really. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mindstrm (20013) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:33PM (#7746902)
      I mean, I'm sure openness is a factor.. but from the beginning, things were this way.

      I think it's more about focus.... or maybe lack of focus...

      See, the kernel teams worries about the kernel, and exporting usable interfaces to that kernel. Not that interesting to Mom & Pop jones, but of great interest to other developers... like those who, say, build distributions.

      MS takes a whole systems approach... the libraries and kernel and everything altogether.. they don't have a group just concened with releasing the best kernel... they have to meet whatever requirements happen internally.

      It's flexible because in the open source world, the kernel team doesn't have to compromise for lazy app developers, or vice versa.
    • Re:OK then (Score:4, Insightful)

      by como-genic (732225) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:39PM (#7746968)
      It might also be due to Linux Kernel developers not being directly controllable by other areas of development (i.e. projects). For example with the mingling in Win95 of Explorer and the Kernel, for usability and not considering the consequences of such a decision.

      This is likely to be an attempt to minimise the undue influence other departments have over the Windows Kernel development team. This being a good thing as it tries to prevent the projects goals being unduly subverted to make another projects life easier.

      It is however highly unlikely it will meet the same levels of independence that the Linux Kernel Development process has. This being on-top of the open nature of Linux Kernel development.
      • Re:OK then (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PainKilleR-CE (597083) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:12PM (#7747290)
        It might also be due to Linux Kernel developers not being directly controllable by other areas of development (i.e. projects). For example with the mingling in Win95 of Explorer and the Kernel, for usability and not considering the consequences of such a decision.

        Or the fact that the core team for the kernel is quite small and the direction of the kernel is ultimately controlled by this group.

        This is likely to be an attempt to minimise the undue influence other departments have over the Windows Kernel development team. This being a good thing as it tries to prevent the projects goals being unduly subverted to make another projects life easier.

        They didn't state that this was a kernel development team, though the name implies that the kernel will be part of their responsibilities. The core OS could include quite a bit more than the kernel. Kernel mode alone, in the diagram of the Longhorn OS, includes the kernel, HAL, device drivers, protocols (TCP, IPSEC, etc), portions of the storage and transaction systems, part of the DirectX graphics and audio drivers, input manager, memory, power, config, and process managers, plug and play, LPC, and so on. The 'Base Operating System Services' which includes the kernel mode portions also includes the window manager, GDI/GDI+, Direct3D, the CLR, and more of the storage and transactions subsystems. On top of all of that is the crap that's gotten the most attention recently, including Avalon, Indigo, WinFS, and the network class library (which might also be part of the Base OS services, it's hard to tell in the diagram).

        Another thing that could be an explanation of this would be reaction to the antitrust cases not only at the federal level, but also from many of the states. If the Core OS is being developed by a seperate group, they could try to hold this up as an example of isolating the OS and API development from the application development, even within Microsoft itself. Of course, that also could backfire on them with any future efforts along the lines of IE and WMP, because they'd have to put more planning into integrating the needed features into the core OS before slapping together another product.
    • by danro (544913) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:54PM (#7747112) Homepage
      Maybe because it is open source ? The consistency surely comes from having the entire codebase to refer to, and the flexibility from people being free to suggest any patches they like to the kernel.
      Not to mention that in OSS every interested party in the entire world can see where you have been lazy and/or stupid...
      If that is not a strong motivation for churning out quality code I don't know what is!

      Too bad for a certain closed source vendor that this is hard (if not impossible) to replicate within their current business model.
      But, who knows? Maybe they can learn something else from the OSS process. It's completely open and successfull, so it must be the ideal research subject!
      • by psavo (162634) <psavo@iki.fi> on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @03:43PM (#7748071) Homepage

        Not to mention that in OSS every interested party in the entire world can see where you have been lazy and/or stupid... If that is not a strong motivation for churning out quality code I don't know what is!

        Yup. When I ported amd76x_pm driver from 2.4 to 2.6 and posted it onto lkml, I got some remarks on overall code quality. All I did was just a quick hack into changed infrastructure so that it would 'just work'. And then I was getting questions like 'what is this', 'why are there large integer constants' etc. I sure learned not to post inadequate code onto lkml then :)

  • by Michael Crutcher (631990) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:21PM (#7746743)
    Looks to me like this article is saying that microsoft is looking to Linux development not because they believe that linux has technical aspects that they'd like to emulate (as many here might comment), but because they want to learn how to structure their organization to best develop the new OS core.

    Microsoft might say that they admire the way that linux contributors interract, but I think it will be a cold day in hell before the admit that they're implementing technical features of linux.

    • by _fuzz_ (111591) <me@davedunki[ ]om ['n.c' in gap]> on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:39PM (#7746961) Homepage
      Agreed. I think one reason "Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility" is that technical decisions are made based on technical merit, not business reasons. Linux, on the other hand, copies those things that Microsoft does because of business decisions, but only when it makes sense to do so. It's really a two-way street.
    • by poopie (35416) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:42PM (#7746994) Journal
      As anyone who has ever worked in a commerical software house can tell you, for every one super-skilled developer writing code, there are dozens (hundreds?) of others who are not.

      The reason that Linux's codebase has remained so cohesive, focused, and flexible is that Linux has so many really skilled developers -- the kind that most companies are fortunate to have just a handful of.

      Software development is one thing where the difference in output between the most skilled person and the average person can be orders of magnitude.

      There really aren't many other fields or occupations where you could argue that the top people/employees are orders of magnitude better than the median person/employee.
    • by Hobbex (41473)

      Why would you be interested in emulating the development model if the resulting product isn't good?

      Imitation is flattery, regardless of how MS would spin it.
    • by Idou (572394) * on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:49PM (#7747070) Journal
      At least, that is what America always seems to preach: "Democracy and Free market spur technological advancement which increases the quality of life."

      If you are a company, what else do you have to control other than the "social" aspect.

      I think MS implying "social superiority" to the Open Source model is far more damning than admitting technical superiority, because the latter implies a "point of advancement" while the former implies a "rate of advancement." Plus, very few companies have been able to reap the benefits of both the Open Source and Corporate worlds at the same time (though, Mandrake is getting pretty close).

      How do you recreate the structure that naturally appears when you open the source and all future benefits derived from that source to all of humanity? Isn't that kind of like trying to recreate the functions of a living organism without DNA?

      If you ask me, the best "social" aspect to open source is the amount of heart people pour into it.
    • "Microsoft might say that they admire the way that linux contributors interract, but I think it will be a cold day in hell before the admit that they're implementing technical features of linux."

      Why would it be a cold day in hell to admit they're implementing features of Linux? They've already implemented Unix'esque features, why would Linux do it? Do you guys think Bill Gates has a pic of Linux on his dartboard?

      Honestly, some of you need a reality checkup. Microsoft regards Linux as competition, that
  • steve jobs (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:21PM (#7746745) Homepage
    Sssshhhhhhh, nobody tell Steve Jobs, he might get jealous that M$ is stealing someone elses R&D!

  • by scovetta (632629) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:21PM (#7746751) Homepage
    I'm going to go against the grain and NOT make this an "I told ya so" MS-bash. From a business perspective, it makes sense for them to learn from Linux, just as it would make sense for Linux to learn things from MS. Each do things differently that work. It's generally regarded that Linux has a better core, better security, and fewer bloat-features that introduce vulnerabilities. It's also generally regarded that Microsoft has superior usability/UI. In the end, for my mom, Microsoft wins. If this new MS team can improve the core to the point where it's as good or better than Linux, then the only reason anyone would use Linux would be cost.

    At the same time, Linux's usability has been improving, it'll be interesting to see what happens when MS and Linux converge to the point where they're both as usable AND both as secure/stable/etc.
    • by Morel (67425)


      I don't think that security and stability are the
      main points against MS anymore, even though they still a long way to go
      in that regard. Nowadays, things like DRM, lack of standards and the
      content of some EULAs are, in my view, much worse. My main
      machine dual-boots XP and RedHat not because of Linux's price or
      technical superiority, but because I refuse to be locked exclusively
      into somebody else's idea of how I should access my own information. I
      struggle a lot when using Linux, but I keep at it so I can some
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)
      If linux wants to keep gaining headway, something is going to have to be done on the desktop; XFree is a hoggish bitch. Surely there could be a better X implimentation.

      For philosophical reasons, I don't see MS's success as anything but bad. One, they are a large corporation, and in a related fashion, a (proven) monopoly. They leverage an obscene amount of power - it's like having a patent on water, in terms of today's business world. Such a large organization can not be unilaterally trusted with such power
    • by Art Tatum (6890) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:52PM (#7747621)
      It's also generally regarded that Microsoft has superior usability/UI.

      Windows can't even claim to be the victor in that department. The Windows GUI is a mish-mash of Mac and NeXTSTEP, plus other interfaces, in all likelyhood. It's disunified and irritating to use.

      If this new MS team can improve the core to the point where it's as good or better than Linux, then the only reason anyone would use Linux would be cost.

      And the fact that it's more UNIX-like. And that the sense of community is stronger. And that you can dig into the guts. Actually, I guess cost isn't the only reason at all.

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:21PM (#7746753) Homepage Journal

    .. they can't learn to have a love of what they do. That's a huge difference between Open Source and proprietary.
    • I think next they'll get closer and closer to copying the "free as in can't charge for it" as more and more countries switch.

      It'll take them a while before they copy the "free as in Free Software" part.

      It amazes me that a company can still charge a premium on what's basically a commodity component (scheduler, memory manager, etc) that's been around for decades. Same for that other company that's charging for relational databases. IMHO they should recognize that after 30 years these parts become commod

    • by the_rev_matt (239420) <slashbot.revmatt@com> on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:31PM (#7747487) Homepage
      That's actually not the difference. I'm not in the habit of defending MSFT, but you have to differentiate between the corporation and the people that work there. The technical people at MSFT got into technology because they love it. MSFT really does tend to hire some of the best and the brightest. Many of the problems with their software have to do with overall architecture and decisions forced on the developers by marketing. That doesn't mean the developers suck or that they don't love what they do.

  • Heh (Score:4, Funny)

    by CormacJ (64984) <cormacNO@SPAMboris-natasha.org> on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:21PM (#7746758) Homepage Journal
    First they ignore us
    Then they despise us
    Then they ridicule us
    Then they become us...
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fw3 (523647) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:21PM (#7746760) Homepage Journal
    "creating a new central engineering division"

    Microsoft is going to become more centralized to better compete with a competitor based highly distributed, decentralized development.

    I'm amused, of course the proof will be in the bits.

  • by CokoBWare (584686) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:22PM (#7746768)
    If M$ won't adopt Linux, at least it will use ideas developed in the open source community to help Windows become a better operating system. Isn't that what we all want? Better operating systems?
  • by Our Man In Redmond (63094) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:22PM (#7746777)
    Linux is anti-American, unconstitutional, hippie-dippie, probably communistic, causes cancer in laboratory animals . . .

    and now Microsoft wants to be more like Linux. Got it.
  • but but ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:23PM (#7746789)
    According to the Microsoft apologists and mr Gates himself there is no innovation in Linux...

    Soon to come: a new development process invented by and patented by Microsoft.
  • Funny thing is ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:23PM (#7746790) Journal
    This is the way that NT started. Dave had total control over the core (and the people) while Bill had control over the API on up. Then Bill took back control of all of it. Bill should have left Cutler in control of the core.
    • by Progman3K (515744)
      And the other funny thing is the most stable version of Windows I ever ran was Windows NT 3.1

      I ran it on a 486DX2 66Mhz with 16MBs of RAM and a 500MB hard disk.

      OK, so it couldn't print or do anything fancy, I admit that, but it WAS rock-steady!

      The minute they pushed Dave Cutler out of the picture and started thinking along the lines of having featuresets by certain sales quarters, everything began to go downhill.

      I really believed in Windows then, but now, it's just a big, slow, bloated abomination.

      I ha
  • by LazloToth (623604) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:24PM (#7746793)

    Emulate, or Squash.

    Squashing hasn't been working too well.

  • by Exmet Paff Daxx (535601) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:26PM (#7746823) Homepage Journal
    Red Hat, Inc. is now Microsoft's #1 competitor in the marketplace. Has Red Hat been studying Microsoft for years? One need only look at kernel support for NTFS or the Samba project to answer that. Now in order to keep up with this arms race, Microsoft must in turn study Linux in order to keep up.

    Capitalism demands this fierce escalation: it's called competition.
  • by BigGerman (541312) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:27PM (#7746831)
    So you got a bunch of MS core people who are _encouraged_ to look at the Linux kernel.
    They got some really bright people there you know.
    And what that bunch of bright hackers would want to do pretty soon? Contribute. Just like that Microsoft fellow from the original Haloween documents described - he had the urge to make changes, to improve the open-source code he looked at.
    Even it they are prohibited from doing so (which I doubt - engineers and lawyers don't mix), the certain cross-contamination of the ideas is bound to happen.
    This will lead to the whole bunch of interesting things - from super-SCO-sized legal battle to Longhorn Linux.
  • by Kevin Burtch (13372) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:27PM (#7746834)

    "Part of their study has been on how Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility,"

    MS, here's a clue: Stop using undocumented/proprietary hooks into your OS from your apps.

    Linux is the way it is (in reference to the above quote) because people stick to the "API"... partly because there's no other way, but that's another topic/philosophy alltogether.
  • by TeamLive (699650) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:27PM (#7746836) Journal
    Microsoft is at another point in its company evolution where it sees a good idea and assimilates it into it's business and product strategy. It is unsuprising, given the fact that the company has in the past profitted from the innovations of others by refining and mass marketing them (i.e. Windows came from observing the innovation of Apple and Xerox's PARC, Internet Explorer came from the observing of Netscape, and the continuing development of PocketPC which came from the observation of Palm.) One can now only hope that they actually implement the philosophy of open source development that has made Linux one of the most robust and flexible operating systems, or whether they simply copy features.... time will tell.
  • Release Date (Score:4, Informative)

    by thebatlab (468898) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:28PM (#7746839)
    "By closely controlling the OS core, Microsoft will be able to better ensure that Longhorn will arrive on time and meet its quality and security objectives, Enderle said. He expects Longhorn to come out in the fourth quarter of 2005, provided that a beta becomes available as planned in 2004."

    Looks like they're still looking at a 2006 release. (Come on, fourth quarter 2005 always means 2006).

    The question is, will assembling this team help them meet that goal or will the initial organization of it take away some time and delay the project more?

    I can't say from experience on what the effects of forming a new style of management to a project, no matter how capable that style is, will do as a project is underway but I'd assume there would be some hassles to start things off with and get the ball rolling.
  • by gvc (167165) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:28PM (#7746847)
    Rob Enderle makes more media pronouncements than just about any other analyst. In general he has no expertise and no information on which to base his statements.

    I would completely discount any report that uses him as a source.

    Don't take my word for it. Use Google and judge his veracity and competence for yourself.
  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:29PM (#7746858)
    So, when does SCO sue them?
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:30PM (#7746866) Homepage Journal
    Note that Rob Enderle is the author of In Defense Of the Microsoft Monoculture [internetwk.com], which was highly debated [slashdot.org] on /. a couple months back. It surprises me that he should point out the consistency and flexibility of Linux, since his earlier writeup made him look as if he was paid my M$ to mouth major anti-Linux FUD.

    • In defense of Rob Enderle:

      I don't see him being inconsistent.

      His idea in that article was that the economics and vulnerability of distributed development were inferior, not that the kernel was technically flawed.

      Anyone can learn something from any other piece of code.
  • by jhines (82154) <john@jhines.org> on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:34PM (#7746913) Homepage
    MS needs a really level headed guy at the helm, like great cars, great operating systems come from a single person's drive and motivation, not a committee.

    He has the ability to say "no" in a way that doesn't upset everyone.

    Dave Cutler of VMS and WinNT fame comes to mind also.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:35PM (#7746926) Homepage
    "They have been studying Linux extensively. Part of their study has been on how Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility,"

    I know why and they will never be able to achieve it.

    Linux does not suffer from one crippling problem that EVERY big software company has.

    Management and Marketing.

    If you eliminate the managers, the PHB's and the marketing team from ever communicating to the programmers, then you can do this.

    I have seen management utterly destroy some of the most amazing and elegant software ever made.
  • by imnoteddy (568836) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:44PM (#7747011)
    Part of their study has been on how Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility

    This is actually good programming technique. Keep your core simple and consistent so the outer layers can be flexible.

  • by dbCooper0 (398528) <dbc@noSpaM.triton.net> on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:44PM (#7747016) Journal
    Shooting from the hip I'm taking this guess at the model for M$ future:
    After WWII, Japan (well, Asia et.al.) learned to imitate US technology - we even helped them! Autos, Electronics, Watches and Cameras are prime examples.
    The thing to watch for is what happened next - after Imitation came Innovation...and the popularity of those commodities took a swing to the East. The US economy took a pretty good hit, as I recall!
    This is a wake-up call for Linux devs to stay sharp and keep up the steam of progress.
  • Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Knights who say 'INT (708612) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:47PM (#7747046) Journal
    Embrace and extend.

    It has come to mean good things (not trying to reinvent the wheel, but building a car around it), and bad things (trying to force down the use of the de facto microsoft-owned standards incompatible with de jure ones), but it's the key idea in Microsoft's business decisions. And it's what's behind trying to separate more clearly the Windows kernel from it's GUI and it's shell. Perhaps we'll be seeing plenty of third-party GUIs or shells (I know there's litestep) to Windows.

    It was at one point clear (DOS/Win3.1), but then the GUI started to "own" many features (net support, and even CD-ROM access!) from 95 on - and they finally did away with the separated "core system" from ME on.

    Perhaps they're starting to see it's a bad idea, or that it's losing them customers. The first thing that attracted me to Linux is how I could have internet access without ever booting the GUI. And while XP is not the nightmare ME was, it's pretty hard to fix when broken in a deeper level.

    On an off note, Billy Gates' "Road to the future" is actually an insightful book, you know. You just need to remember he's a businessman, not an actual geek. To him, it's better to admit to having been wrong than losing money or market share. Welcome to the world!
    • Re:Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

      by puppetluva (46903) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:23PM (#7747411)
      I am a bit bothered by two of your points.

      Embrace and extend.

      It's actually. "Embrace, extend, destroy." and it is a BAD thing. It is the idea of taking a standard, implementing it and then extending the implementation once you have enough marketshare to destroy its compatibility with the rest of the market. It is how you "take over" what others have worked hard to create as a community.

      On an off note, Billy Gates' "Road to the future" is actually an insightful book, you know.

      The first revision of the book didn't even include the Internet. Basically this book wasn't insightful at all and has been revised to include events that Gates completely missed when he wrote it in the first place. This book is really a piece of corporate revisionist history.

  • by gillbates (106458) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:51PM (#7747082) Homepage Journal

    <troll>

    That Microsoft will someday be able to release a stable operating system?

    Sorry, I just couldn't resist...

    </troll>

    But seriously, it looks as if the mere presence of Linux is having an effect on Redmond. Perhaps Microsoft will produce better systems than they have in the past if they consider Linux a threat to their business model. Nothing inspires excellence like a little competition...

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @01:55PM (#7747114) Homepage
    Windows NT worked that way until the end of NT 3.x. Then Microsoft demoted Dave Cutler, turned the code kiddies from the Windows 95 team loose on NT, and messed it up. It's prettier now, but less stable.

    Microsoft has had a terrible time transitioning people from the DOS-Win3.1-Win95-Win98-WinME family to the NT-based systems. More than half of Windows-based desktops worldwide are still running DOS-family OSs. Even though they've all been discontinued. Even though they have zero security and crash constantly. They're still out there.

  • Misleading (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:01PM (#7747166)
    "To a certain extent, Microsoft's decision to form a division focused on the OS core was driven by its main rival, Linux, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, a consulting firm specializing on emerging technologies, in San Jose, California.

    Microsoft didn't say a damn thing about emulating linux, Rob Enderle did. The memo was distributed by MS, but appears to have no content regarding an emulation of Linux development methodologies.

    Might want to reign in the horses a bit boys.
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:03PM (#7747184) Homepage
    Microsoft could actually clone the Linux development model, if they wished.

    They've got enough programmers that they could simple go "open source" within the company, and that would be a big enough community to get all the benefits cited by ESR in his Cathedral paper.

    A few other big companies could also do this if they wished.

    Long term, I think, what Linus himself will be remembered for won't be the Linux kernel itself, but for how he managed the project. Hell, I personally know half a dozen people that could have done everything Linus did on the technical side of things, but I doubt any of them would have been the project manager he turned out to be.

    • by nathanh (1214) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @09:42PM (#7750473) Homepage
      Long term, I think, what Linus himself will be remembered for won't be the Linux kernel itself, but for how he managed the project. Hell, I personally know half a dozen people that could have done everything Linus did on the technical side of things, but I doubt any of them would have been the project manager he turned out to be.

      Amen. What many fanboys don't seem to realise is that writing a UNIX-like kernel isn't beyond the abilities of any top-quality programmer. The unique characteristic of the UNIX kernel is that it's tiny so it can be implemented by 1 or 2 skilled people in a very short period of time. Thompson and Ritchie did it. Tanenbaum did it. Linus did it. Plus the UNIX kernel has over 30 years of documentation; it's not a secret and there's no new ground to forge. So writing the Linux kernel wasn't all too incredible. However attracting 1000s of developers, smoothing their ruffled feathers when egos came into conflict, coordinating everybody in a single direction... now that's an achievement that demands respect.

      Though writing the Linux kernel is also very impressive :-)

  • by killmeplease (50275) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @02:11PM (#7747279) Homepage
    It seems to me that Microsoft is nneding to revamp the way that they make their OS. If you read about the original development team it was 30 or so people for NT 3.1, a managable development team. NT 4.0 was a couple hundred and now the NT/XP team is huge and they are all working on the OS. The bug count last I heard was in the 40,000 - 60,000 region. It is simply to complex a system to keep track of all changes and bugs. In The Million Man Month they discuss there being no silver bullet for creating perfect software, but definitely putting more people on the team will not help.

    I think it is great MS is changing the way they make OSs. If MS makes a good OS that is stable and secure, it raises the bar for everyone else to compete. They have to change their method. I think they have there divisions implement changes and Software QA verifies build stability the way that most Application development shops work. This seems impossible on the OS level. Linux is great because they have the UNIX design model to work with, everything laid out in a clean working fashion. The Kernel is so stable because they do not make major changes to the way user space is made because it just has to allow for UNIX applications to run (including X). All of the modules like memory and file systems are layed out. Microsoft has ruined their chance of using this model in Win XP by putting the GUI in kernel space, grabbing the messy registry system from Win 95, and whatever they could hack to make a consumer heavy duty OS.

    Perhaps MS could have Linus Torvalds come in and be their OS development consultant for a day. They could elect someone as their Linus to check in every major change. They could add features for 6-12 months at a time, and test and revise changes for the next 6-12 months and blamo they have a Linux like development team.
  • by Ann Elk (668880) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @03:09PM (#7747787)
    • Fire Jim Allchin. He has been a liability for years. He wants to turn every project he touches into "Cairo".
    • Appoint a competent replacement, preferably not Brian Valentine.
    • Do not allow any summer intern "wannabe engineer" code-boys anywhere near the core OS kernel source code without proper supervision.
    • Release the core OS kernel as open source. You don't need to release the source for the entire product, just enough to build NTOSKRNL.EXE, NTDLL.DLL, and a generic HAL.DLL. The driver writers of the world will love you for it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @03:43PM (#7748073)
    For 1500 years alchemists worked tirelessly in their secret labs making potions and spells with the ultimate goal of turning whatever into gold. 1500 years wasted because everone kept everything secret. Chemistry came along when people published and studied work of others. After 300 years we know it takes a nuclear reaction to turn something else into gold. Linux is like chemistry. Microsoft isn't. Get the idea?
  • by El (94934) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @03:57PM (#7748224)
    Part of their study has been on how Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility.

    Just a guess, but offhand I'd say it through design driven by software developers, versus design driven by marketing and artificial deadlines. In other words, in any organization, the behaviours that get rewarded the most increase, while those that get punished decrease. MS apparently does not reward consistent, flexible design or implementation.

  • The hard truth is, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @04:56PM (#7748721)
    "They have been studying Linux extensively. Part of their study has been on how Linux has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the kernel while groups around it maintain maximum flexibility,".

    It's because the Linux kernel is under the control of (no offense) a dictator, where as the MS kernel is under the control of a bureaucracy..

    Sometimes dictators are a GOOD thing..
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday December 17, 2003 @08:54PM (#7750208)
    By closely controlling the OS core, Microsoft will be able to better ensure that Longhorn will arrive on time and meet its quality and security objectives, Enderle said.

    So, are you saying that MS is not doing that currently? Aha! Finally, they admit it.

    [sarcasm]
    Reeeeeeeally? So when is Longhorn due?
    2003 you say.
    Now you say 2004.
    2005?
    2006?!
    So how's that Trustworthy Computing thing working?
    Never mind.
    [/sarcasm]

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