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Why Vista Took So Long 761

Posted by kdawson
from the changing-lightbulbs dept.
twofish writes, "Following on from Joel Spolsky's blog on the Windows Vista shutdown menu, Moishe Lettvin, a former member of the Windows Vista team (now at Google) who spent a year working on the menu, gives an insight into the process, and some indication as to what the approximately 24 people who worked on the shutdown menu actually did. Joel has responded in typically forthright fashion." From the last posting: "Every piece of evidence I've heard from developers inside Microsoft supports my theory that the company has become completely tangled up in bureaucracy, layers of management, meetings ad infinitum, and overstaffing. The only way Microsoft has managed to hire so many people has been by lowering their hiring standards significantly. In the early nineties Microsoft looked at IBM, especially the bloated OS/2 team, as a case study of what not to do; somehow in the fifteen year period from 1991–2006 they became the bloated monster that takes five years to ship an incoherent upgrade to their flagship product."
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Why Vista Took So Long

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  • by InsaneGeek (175763) <slashdot@NOSPam.insanegeeks.com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:37PM (#17003630) Homepage
    Every single organization seems to follow this exact same path. Lean and mean at first, to fast and nimble second, to large but feature, to slow and bloated. The next step after this tends to be, jump at any and all projects to see if anything will stick progressing slowly down a spiral with a large change either acquisition by another company or dramatic slashing of middle-management workers and projects to focus on their core. Unfortunately I have yet to see a large organization that doesn't seem to go down something similar to this path.
  • Sleep vs Hibernate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Omicron32 (646469) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:41PM (#17003666)
    I've been in a sysadmin job now for about 4 years.

    I work with computers daily, both Windows and Linux (and a dabble with OSX).

    Can I tell you the difference between sleep and hibernate? No.

    What are the differences, and why do they matter to the average Joe? Why not just have the 'best' one and forget the other one?

    For that matter, why are they duplicating the Lock option, seems pretty dumb to me.
  • Why RTFA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:43PM (#17003690) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't "the approximately 24 people who worked on the shutdown menu" already tell you everything you need to know?
  • no Europe? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:46PM (#17003752)
    Is anyone else surprised they didn't mention Europe bitching about every little thing in Vista as part of the delays? Kinda hard to forget to mention that one, huh? I do agree that the overstaffing problem is a huge one. I'm working on a 9 week programming project for a class in a group of three and we're still like "you did what?!" every single week and then try and stomp out all the little fires that pop up from two people doing things that aren't compatible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:47PM (#17003764)
    Only the ones we love to hate ... like WalMart.
  • Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr&hotmail,com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:49PM (#17003788) Homepage
    People would want Vista if it were revolutionary. But you can't just sit down and say 'let's make something revolutionary' and then set up a timeline and claim to be able to create a revolution within that timeframe. Revolutions happen by accident if at all, not on purpose.

    So why hurry? For money? In my experience hurrying to make money never works out.

    TLF
  • Re:Hopefully (Score:3, Insightful)

    by creimer (824291) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:49PM (#17003792) Homepage
    Sure. In five years after SP1 and SP2 and maybe SP3 are out to fix what's wrong with Windows Vista now and the hardware is able to run it fast. From what I seen, it's just a bloatware update to Windows XP. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to Mac OS X Leopard. ;)
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:49PM (#17003794)
    I don't get the new cult of never turning your PC off. If I'm away from my computer, it's usually for an extended period (IE - a night I'm not downloading crap, or a full day of work). Doesn't it make vastly more sense to not have the power supply fan running for those 8 hours? Or the HD randomly going idle and then spinning up again? When I'm done, I shut the machine down and turn off the power strip. Interested in why others don't, however.
  • Nice screen shot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by archen (447353) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:49PM (#17003802)
    Looking at the article... Is it just me or getting that menu to pop up for the shutdown options by that arrow seem really unintuitive? I've gotten that feeling all around while using vista. Nice looking in places, but much of what the windows/system is telling you is hard to make sense of.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:50PM (#17003818)
    We have also yet to see a government which hasn't gone down this path. Of course, not many people question the behemoth of bureaucracy (and hence corruption) which is government. I suppose when you think you're getting a piece of the pie, you tend to block everything else out.

    Hey, at least Microsoft is a voluntary behemoth of bureaucracy (to the extent where they haven't exploited the coercive powers of government of course). I'd opt out of government in a second if I could, but that's not exactly an option.
  • by MioTheGreat (926975) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:51PM (#17003836)
    Congratulations, you just described the default power functionality in XP.
  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:55PM (#17003884) Homepage
    1. As a monopoly, they define how much they charge.
    2. Sales/Marketing's job is to force this product down OEM's throats. Good, bad, whatever, just buy it.
    3. There is no accept or reject market mechanism. You WILL be buying Vista if you choose to buy a new PC later. It will be the very rare individual who switches to a mac or just slaps linux on their current box.
    4. There is no incentive to establish a more productive developer environment.

    Therefore, chaos and mismanagement won't ever harm the beast.

    Joel's comments are fun to read, but the scale at which MS develops their OS makes it too easy to criticize from Joel's relatively tiny company.

    Finally, How many hours did the developer spend/waste reading /. waiting for next week's meeting?
  • Off Menu (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Botia (855350) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:56PM (#17003912)
    While the development sounds aweful, I think the result that came out of it is quite nice.

    I hear two camps: minimalists and those who want do make every possible decision. One camp says just have one or two buttons. The other wants 10 buttons. I think the third option is the best. Make it easy do the two buttons but still have a way of doing the other options. This is what Microsoft has done. They have a power button and a lock button. The power button goes into a sleep/hibernation mode. The lock button goes into a lock/switch user mode. If you want the other choices, you need click on the menu arrow.

    This seems like basic design. Make it simple to do common stuff. Make it possible but not as easy to do things that you do less often (more advanced).
  • by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:58PM (#17003940) Homepage Journal
    So, Microsoft has finally adopted the Linux development model?

    To call it "the Linux development model" is somewhat arrogant I think. It appears more that Microsoft is trying to take their time and putting in extra effort to make this release literally the best Windows release to date, because the last thing they want is another Windows ME. This process applies to any software group, be it OSS, Apple, IBM, and yes, Microsoft.

    To borrow a quote from Shigeru Miyamoto, "A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever." I think that applies to pretty much any software project, though of course "good" is relative to the user.
  • by awing0 (545366) <{gro.hcetdab} {ta} {mada}> on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:59PM (#17003946) Homepage Journal
    I think all the choices have some merit.

    Switch User - Leave your apps running and switch to another user's desktop. Useful to switch to Administrator quick to fix/install something and then go back to work on your user account.

    Log Off - Close all your apps, closes desktop to user login screen. This is good for corporate and multi user PCs. You close all your apps and allow background services to keep functioning (printer sharing, etc).

    Lock - Keep your apps and desktop in place, only you need your password to get back to your desktop. This is very useful if you need to walk away from your computer, but want to get back to work when you come back to your desk.

    Restart - This is going no where anytime soon.

    Sleep - The computers state is suspended into a low power mode. In theory, you can come back to your computer and it will be ready to use in a quicker fashion than a cold boot.

    Hibernate - A deeper sleep. Instead of the computer state suspended in RAM, it is written to disk. Useful on laptops, as the computer is really off but still "sleeping".

    Shut Down - Everyone should know what this is.

    I agree the UI for this menu is terrible, but the options aren't. The solution I believe is to allow all options. Go with the simple menu and you get the three primary options. If you are a power user or admin you get the whole list. Choices are good.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:59PM (#17003948) Journal
    To Joe User, they are both the same, so why not just put a little 2 or 4 gig flash drive in the machine, and roll both functions into one? Practically, it would be as fast as sleeping, but would have the complete power down benefits of hibernating.
  • by bladesjester (774793) <slashdot@COMMAja ... .com minus punct> on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:59PM (#17003956) Homepage Journal
    While that can work with a web-based program/service, something as large as an OS which has to be installed on your computer is a completely different story.

    In order to properly set up a windows box with all of the programs I want and the settings I prefer takes about a day. That's not something I want to do once a week/month/quarter.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:00PM (#17003974)
    Troll because he insulted Linux? Nothing like a little bias!
  • Re:Hopefully (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:01PM (#17003984)
    Vista works fine and I see nothing but biased bitter views of Vista from this community. It runs perfectly fine on my 5 year old and actually runs smoother than XP; navigating networks and browsing is seamlessly more easier to access than in XP.

    Bloatware right? Thanks Linux for reminding us what a terrible desktop Windows has been the last 10+ years for the millions and millions of people/businesses around the world. But I could understand the last few years how Linux people have given up their bitter argument of Linux vs Windows on the desktop and have shifted their argument with MAC OS X vs Windows desktop.
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:01PM (#17004000)
    "The only way Microsoft has managed to hire so many people has been by lowering their hiring standards significantly."

    Leave it to Joel to turn every issue into a hiring standards one. The problem was that too many people were involved in the project, not their quality. Joel likes to stroke his ego and promote his company by claiming he always hires the best people. This issue afforded him another excuse for self-promotion.
  • by Chirs (87576) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:03PM (#17004018)
    It's not quite that simple.

    When you get beyond a certain stage of complexity, you need to change the mode of operation. You can't just have everyone submitting random changes.

    You have a subgroup of people that work with each other. When something is stable, it gets submitted to the integration branch. Periodically the integration branch is tested and verified that all the various things feeding into it interwork with each other. That stable version is then propagated into the other teams for them to work with.

    Linux uses a variation of this. People work off the mainline tree. Riskier stuff is in the -mm patchset, so if you want to play with it you need to sync from multiple places.

    The real problem with the scenario as described is the repository organization, likely not in the repository tool. There should have been a way to manually make a child stream that started with the stable version, then pulled in the latest changes from the kernel group, the tabletPC group, and the shell team. That would have allowed them to all work together and see what each group was doing.
  • by plopez (54068) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:06PM (#17004096) Journal
    Does nayone have any info on how the OS X team works? I mean in a few years Apple did a complete paradigm shift from OS 9 to OS X on the OS level. I would be interesting to see what, if anything, they are doing better. Links or experiences would be nice.

    And while I am at it, the start menu requires input from the kernal team. WTF? This is violating some very basic software design principles. The OS should just be basic services, then the applications, including the UI, should ride on top of the kernal without really caring much about how the kernal works.

    I can see integration with the shell, but the kernal? It looks like MS policy of tight OS integration with the applications is biting them *hard*.
  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:06PM (#17004106) Homepage
    Choices are good.

    Not to most people. Certainly not past a *few*,*salient* choices. Past this point, more choices just add confusion. You do not need 255 different ways to tell a laptop to "close up for later use". A true geek would want to be questioned for each process about whether it needed to be persisted or killed. This is a problematic mindset.

  • by Reapman (740286) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:08PM (#17004132)
    To a point yes... but honestly by default you don't need all these... and Microsoft is all about dumbing down the options to make it easier on the user right? No "what parts of windows do you want installed" type questions anymore, it just installs what it feels you want. So off the top of my head I'd say have Sleep, Lock, and Shutdown. Corporate enviro that needs reboot? (I know we do) have a GPO to re-enable it. Or an option under Control panel or w/e. Like tfa said, at the very least do you need both a Lock and Switch User? If you lock the computer, why not have your switch user option on that screen?
  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:09PM (#17004154)
    But you won't know you have a bug for months so the teams will code away making buggier software and not realizing it until the root sync. (Wait...why does that sound familiar...hrm...dunno...)

    FTA, the shutdown menu relied on the shell team and the kernel team, and they only shared root. So how do you know if the menu's broken unless it's synced with everything? Can't test a new menu without the most recent kernel and shell build... Or you can, but once kernel re-syncs, who's to say menu won't up and break?
  • by yerM)M (720808) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:09PM (#17004160) Homepage
    Agreed, but you don't have a choice. When you close the lid you sleep and there is no hibernate.

    Haven't you ever started a hibernate, closed the lid before you were done and when you opened the lid you completed the hibernate and had to power up the computer again to come back from hibernation?

    Having only one choice can be better (i.e. when I said "Done" I meant, that's it, that's all you can do). It sounds like Vista is starting to become (if you'll excuse a reference to Larry Wall) as much of a post-modern [perl.com] operating system as linux/unix.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n0rr1s (768407) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:11PM (#17004210)
    A bunch of reasons:
    1. I like having my computers available instantly when I want to use them.
    2. Turning a machine on and off many times can be harmful, so it is said. Others say it's a myth. I don't know who to believe, but it seems feasible that this could be so.
    3. I run back-ups and virus checks during the night.
    4. The computers work on protein-folding during their idle time.
    5. My machines are in my bedroom, and they keep me nice and warm at night. Besides, there's nothing like the low purr of case fans so send you off to sleep :)
  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:16PM (#17004302)
    Sure XP CAN do those things... but personally I've never had it work reliably for any period of time. When I first reformatted and installed my Dell it almost worked perfectly.. then gradually disintegrated until even going to sleep crashes the PC. It's a 2+ year install, automatic updates are on, and been kept up with antivirus and antispyware... I'm doing everything I'm supposed to. why did it self destruct?
  • by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:17PM (#17004310)
    Windows Vista will not be that succesfull just because it's Microsoft. It's biggest enemy is not linux or Mac, it's Windows XP. The number of available computers that can switch to vista is bigger than the number of new computers sold in the first years since Vista is released. Vista is not a big improvement over XP and many people will not switch. If they don't switch, Microsoft doesn't gets money and investors will pain.
  • by misleb (129952) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:19PM (#17004366)
    They should make the 'sleep' option do both hibernate and sleep. Always write the RAM to disk, but still leave the RAM powered just in case the user comes back after a few minutes. If sleeping for > 5 minutes (or some other configurable amount of time), turn off power to RAM and hibernate. I think Apple calls this "safe sleep." Best of both worlds.

    -matthew
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:21PM (#17004394)
    to make this release literally the best Windows release to date
    Sounds unlikelly ... *coug* WGA *cough*
  • by filterban (916724) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:22PM (#17004426) Homepage Journal
    Uh, Microsoft told us it would take less time. Therefore it's their fault when they miss their self-imposed deadline. They underestimated the difficulty of the project and therefore we should have nobody to blame but MS.
  • by JazzLad (935151) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:24PM (#17004450) Homepage
    Careful, the first post that criticized Linux got modded offtopic for being contrary to groupthink. You will probably be the only person to see this warning as it will surely be down modded as well 5 seconds after clicking Submit.
  • by Mattintosh (758112) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:24PM (#17004454)
    The UI isn't all that terrible. Joel Spolsky is making a mountain out of a molehill. Look at the screenshot he gives in his article. Here's what I notice:

    1) There's a power button. That shuts things down fully. ("I am going away from my computer now, but I'd like the power to be really off.")
    2) There's a lock button. That leave it running, but keeps others out of your stuff. ("I am going away from my computer now.")
    3) There's a menu of choices if you care to look at it, and the button is much smaller than the other two and has a nondescript arrow icon on it which makes it much less attractive to non-techie users.

    Yes, his suggestions for combining lock with switch user and sleep with hibernate are good, but I don't think what they actually implemented is all that difficult to understand. His problem is that he's "one of us" and went looking for all the extra options. Most people will never click that arrow to make that menu appear. Ever. It's kind of unfair, even to Microsoft, to rag on something for being unfriendly to non-techies when non-techies are never going to even see it. Usually Joel Spolsky's observations are spot-on, but this time I'm going to have to give him an F for eFfort.
  • Re:no Europe? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NDPTAL85 (260093) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:25PM (#17004464)
    Microsoft has often fradulently claimed that the EU's directive to unbundle certain MS Apps from Windows is the cause of significant development delays.
  • by diersing (679767) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:29PM (#17004544)
    "A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever."
    You don't account for a delayed game being bad, just because something is delayed doesn't make it inherently good. And when you get a delayed-bad game, its double bad because you, to quote my uncle Ray, "had to wait for that crap".
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doctor Faustus (127273) <Slashdot@nosPAm.WilliamCleveland.Org> on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:36PM (#17004662) Homepage
    When I'm done, I shut the machine down and turn off the power strip. Interested in why others don't, however.

    Remote access. I'm pretty sure that's why we programmers don't have laptops at my office in the first place. Hard drive speed and the fact that we all have home computers are probably factors, as well.

    I do turn my home computer off, but my wife doesn't. She likes to have every web page she checks often constantly loaded, and ready for her when she sits down to her computer. I prefer to close any programs I'm not currently using.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:40PM (#17004742)

    And look where they are now...about a 2% marketshare of the PC market!

    Actually that is about 5%, which is to say considerably more than they had before Jobs took over.

    Could you imagine the Zune supporting MS? Cause the iPod seems to be the only thing keeping apple around

    The iPod certainly makes Apple a significant amount of money, but they're making more money total than ever before, both from PC sales and other products. It's hard to argue with results, but I guess you prove, if you get your facts wrong, you can do even that.

  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@ g m a i l.com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:42PM (#17004774)
    Often on XP, 2000, NT and 95 I would hit control-esc then R for run and type frequently used programs into run

    Don't you have a Windows key? Win-R. One chord instead of two, and a less akward stretch than ctrl-esc if you do it with one hand. The Windows key sucks when gaming, and if you're a Model M fan you won't have one, but those are the only two arguments I can think of against it, because it really is useful. I personally use Win-E (open Explorer) and Win-L (Lock) routinely.

    Maybe win-r will still work for you in Vista? I don't know.
  • by seguso (760241) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:45PM (#17004820) Homepage
    1. As a monopoly, they define how much they charge.
    That's an exaggeration. Microsoft has at least 3 competitors: Linux, Mac and Pirated Windows (TM), without which the price of Vista would be much higher.

    Of course, there's still vendor lock-in, which pushes in the opposite direction (decreasing the power of those competitors and increasing the price of Vista), but competition is far from absent.

  • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:47PM (#17004858)
    First off all, he's retarded because in the screenshot he gives obviously there is one button for "off" and one for "lock" and one for "other". That's not a lot of choices. There are a lot of subtly different choices after you choose "other", but the answer isn't to have one option that somehow magically does everything right.

    His "answer" is one choice that:
    1) saves all memory to persistent storage (usb drive, hd, etc).
    2) locks screen,
    3) where you can: log in as a different user
    4) or wait 30+ seconds for some kind of magic 'power off'

    Except saving memory may take a long time (on say a 10mb/s flash drive) and if you have any tasks running like say a fileshare or bittorrent or whatever then you have to freeze them at the locked screen. And what does it mean to "power off"? Do you really want your bittorrent to stop because your computer just assumed after 30 seconds of idle it could shut down completely? If you actually want the power off you have to wait until it says "ok to turn power off" before unplugging the cord at full system power because your system doesn't even have an "off" button?

    Solve the actual problem. People don't want to tell the computer what to do, they want to inform the computer of what they are doing. So instead of shutdown you have "Sign off". Instead of sleep you have "I'm Away". Instead of lock you have "I'm Idle". Like instant messengers. If people can say "Away->Extended Away" vs "Away->Eating" then this isn't a burden of choice at all. The computer can then magically do the right thing because it knows what you are going to do. Plus it can inform other computers of what you are doing, so you don't have to select "Eating" in gaim/trillian AND in the system menu.
  • by spwolfx (1029734) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:58PM (#17005052)
    Joel obviously has no clue on what he is writing about... Any laptop user will tell you important basic difference between Sleep and Hibernate - Sleep is quick and still uses significant amount of power (yet takes less than 1 sec to power up), while hibernate takes 10-15 seconds to restore but uses very small amount of power. With my laptop I always use sleep, unless I on trip where Hibernate is very useful to squeze last ounce of battery power.

    What he is also not understanding is that those are actually options, signified by them being located on option button-arrow which is supposed to provide you more options. It is actually one of the 3 main icons/choices, and is the smallest one - big icon is Power icon which shuts down your computer (60% of screen), lock is next to it and slightly smaller (25% of the screen, while option arrow is smallest (15% of the screen).

    So why in the world would you actually want to lower the choices in Additional Options menu? He obviously ignores large power and lock buttons next to it and comes to the same conclusion as MS Devs did in his summarization on what should be there (Lock and Power, which are already there - funny stuff). Article makes no sense, and whoever posted it here also didnt take 10 seconds to actually read it.

    Or is he debating on why do we even have options? Maybe when I become an moron, and start writing blog with my real name and picture, I will understand why would anyone be annoyed with developer giving you an option in form of 15 pixels wide button.
  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:00PM (#17005078) Homepage
    What competion do you speak of?

    Mac market share that still stands at less than 10% of total market share despite being the superior mass-market OS?
    Linux/BSD? Desktops.... Nope. Not even close.

    Either you are astroturfing for MS to prop up the appearance of competition or you haven't examined the history of MS's share of the desktop computing market.

    I urge you to consider the issue with a bit more objectivity.
  • by jazman_777 (44742) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:01PM (#17005090) Homepage
    That's when you can really say what you think. Use the Karma bonus. Burn a few points, you know how to pad it back up if needed. It's Slashdot tenure.
  • by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:15PM (#17005288)
    There was one quite interesting post on Moishe Lettvin's blog (emphasis mine):

    disclaimer - I was a manager at Microsoft during some of this period (a member of the class of 17 uninformed decision makers) although not on this feature, er, menu.

    The people who designed the source control system for Windows were *not* idiots. They were trying to solve the following problem:
    - thousands of developers,
    - promiscuous dependency taking between parts of Windows without much analysis of the consequences
    --> with a single codebase, if each developer broke the build once every two years there would never be a Longhorn build (or some such statistic - I forget the actual number)

    There are three obvious solutions to this problem:
    1. federate out the source tree, and pay the forward and reverse integration taxes (primarily delay in finding build breaks), or...
    2. remove a large number of the unneccesary dependencies between the various parts of Windows, especially the circular dependencies.
    3. Both 1&2
    #1 was the winning solution in large part because it could be executed by a small team over a defined period of time. #2 would have required herding all the Windows developers (and PMs, managers, UI designers...), and is potentially an unbounded problem.

    (There was much work done analyzing the internal structure of Windows, which certainly counts as a Microsoft trade secret so I am not at liberty to discuss it)

    Note: the open source community does not have this problem (at least not to the same degree) as they tend not to take dependencies on each other to the same degree, specifically:
    - rarely take dependencies on unshipped code
    - rarely make circular dependencies
    - mostly take depemdencies on mature stable components.

    As others have mentioned, the real surprise here is that they managed to ship anything.

    Now I'm not a Microsoft employee, but even as an outsider I've seen some hints that it might be the "promiscuous dependency taking" that has delayed Vista.

    1) Integration of Internet Explorer.
    Microsoft claims that IE and Windows are inextricably linked together, and at least for Windows 2000 and newer this seems to be true. For instance, if you type a URL into the address bar of the Windows Explorer, it will show you web pages. IMHO a stupid design, the web browser should be an application, not a fixed part of the GUI.

    2) The RPC service being responsible for things a "remote procedure call service" has no business handling.
    In August 2003, a worm called MSBlast spread by exploiting a buffer overflow in the DCOM RPC service (see Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSBlast [wikipedia.org]). At that time me, trying to be clever, thought:
    "I don't want anyone remotely executing stuff on my PC anyway. I'll just switch the service off and be fine".
    Lo and behold:
    After turning off the RPC service, various local functions were dead as well. Including the Services menu in the control panel. I was lucky that I could reactivate the RPC service by manually editing the registry, else I would have spent a day reinstalling.

    So it seems quite believable that Microsoft is choking itself by lack of discipline in designing Windows ;-)
  • by seguso (760241) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:19PM (#17005352) Homepage
    For competition to hold, it's not at all necessary for competitors to have similar market shares. To convince yourself, just ask yourself if Microsoft could price Vista $3000 per box. Of course not. Why? Because if it did, people would switch to a competitor, because the migration would be cheaper than paying that much.

    In order for competition to have its benefic effects (on prices and innovation), all is necessary is that MS be afraid that, should it do some wrong move, it would loose market share to competitors.

  • by DECS (891519) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:20PM (#17005360) Homepage Journal
    From RoughlyDrafted's Leopard vs Vista 5: Development Challenges [roughlydrafted.com]

    "In an almost spooky series of events, Microsoft has shadowed Apple's brush with death, making the exact same set of moves exactly ten years after Apple:

    • In the mid 90s, Microsoft rapidly built upon its past success with MS-DOS to establish Windows as a vast empire ...just as Apple used the success of the Apple II as a stepping stone to launch the Mac in the mid 80s.
    • From 1995 to 2001, Microsoft rapidly delivered advancements to its desktop Windows product ...just as Apple rapidly advanced the Mac System Software from 1985-1991.
    • In 2001, Microsoft began announcing technologies that would be released as part of Longhorn and later Blackcomb ...just as Apple described new technologies intended for Copland and Gershwin a decade prior.
    • From 2002-2006, Microsoft dropped features, changed plans, and started over several times in protracted efforts to ship Longhorn ...just as Apple had fumbled around with Copland ten years earlier.
    • By 2006, it was obvious that Microsoft's Longhorn was not going to live up to the hype, and would really be just a refresh of the existing Windows XP ...just as Copland had been gutted in 1996 and its salvaged remains delivered as the optimistically named Mac OS 8.
    • Microsoft outed Blackcomb as vaporware ...just as Apple admitted that Gershwin had never been anything but a list of deferred goals ten years earlier.
    What's Next? The only difference between Apple and Microsoft is that today, in the final days of 2006, there is no equivalent to a 1996 NeXT waiting in the wings to swoop down and fix Microsoft's mess. Leopard vs Vista 5: Development Challenges [roughlydrafted.com]
  • by MidKnight (19766) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:31PM (#17005504)
    Do you really think Microsoft has been delaying the Vista release in order to make it the best Windows release to date? That seems ignorant of the history of the project to say the least. Here's what I remember:

    The Longhorn project was officially started in 2001 (or possibly earlier). Longhorn initially had a number of OS-level features that would've made it on par with some other OS's in the same time peroid, had it been released in its original time window (late 2002, I believe). By my recollection of events, they originally started with the Windows 2000 Server codebase, and attempted to bolt the new fancy features onto the side of it. The effort failed miserably.

    By 2003, Microsoft had realized that doing "add-on" development to Windows 2000 was a lost cause, so they literally called a do-over: this time they started with the WinXP Update 2 codebase. By the start of 2005, they were still having serious trouble getting all the new features to play well together, so they started removing them one by one. By 2006 all of the exciting new OS features had been removed, except for the new display API. This became the new feature set of the Vista release: eye candy.

    Feel free to correct my from-memory summary of the history of the project. But my point is that they weren't polishing the silverware until it shone brightly; they were just trying to get the dinner table set before it was time for breakfast.
  • by sethadam1 (530629) <adam@firsttubeEEE.com minus threevowels> on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:33PM (#17005524) Homepage
    Most people will never click that arrow to make that menu appear.
    That's the worst kind of interface design. If most people will never click it, why display it so prominently? Some options, like "Administrative Tools" had to be intentionally toggled to even be displayed. If your starting assumption is that people won't use it, why show it at all?
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:43PM (#17005706)

    That's an exaggeration. Microsoft has at least 3 competitors: Linux, Mac and Pirated Windows (TM)

    The number of Linux licensed sold or pre-installed for the desktop is tiny. It is not enough to significantly influence the market in any way. Maybe if Walmart decides to push it it can be. Mac OS X does not compete with Windows. Apple maintains a separate vertical chain and competes with Dell and other PC vendors. It does not sell OS X to PC vendors and is thus in a completely different market. Pirated Windows does compete with them, but more than anything it severs to kill the low end market where MS will not legally profit and where competitors might gain a foothold. For the most part, this is a win for MS.

    ...competition is far from absent.

    From an economic perspective, their is no significant competition for Windows. That is not to say the price is not regulated by the market, it is set at what they think will maximize profit though, not what will allow them to beat the competition. It is, thus, much higher than it would be in a competitive market and slowly climbing as they embrace more and and more markets and add that cost into the whole.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by metlin (258108) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:46PM (#17005760) Journal
    How about, "I like preserving a particular state my machine is in?"

    If I'm working on code, I've several editor windows, compiler and terminals open. And usually, if I have to shut down my computer, that would imply I would need to close all those windows and all those applications. Why should I do that when I could just have my computer hibernate or sleep?

    I mean, if I am on Linux, I have four active desktops with several browser windows, code and other things.

    Shutting down my system implies closing down everything and starting afresh. Why should I, when I can put my system to sleep and restart it with my windows and state preserved?
  • Re:Hopefully (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blincoln (592401) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:53PM (#17005902) Homepage Journal
    Steve Ballmer, is that you?

    Vista's UI is nice, and I like that it finally uses non-boneheaded names for system directories (e.g. c:\users\blincoln\documents instead of c:\documents and settings\blincoln\reparse point that sometimes shows as 'my documents' and others as 'blincoln's documents).

    However, no way is that worth the upgrade price.
  • by notaprguy (906128) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:57PM (#17005976) Journal
    You're partly right. The "Longhorn reset" - when they decided to largely throw out more than years worth of work - came about because they were overly ambitious. They were trying to re-write major portions of the platform. They realized that doing so was not only going to be too difficult/take too much time but that customers didn't really want that. So they did a reset...significantly reduced the origional ambitions of the project so they could get it done. Whether that's a good thing or bad thing is in the eye of the beholder. In my mind it was probably good because, despite the rantings of some on /. and elsewhere, Windows actually works pretty well for most people and organizations. Re-writing the whole thing would have probably cause more harm than good. Just my personal two cents.
  • by gameforge (965493) on Monday November 27, 2006 @04:24PM (#17006404) Journal
    You should be looking at this more objectively, not the GP.

    First of all, has Mac's market share gone down any time recently? There's a trend to look at, not snapshot figures.

    Another example - is the Linux/BSD desktop getting worse, is it losing more users than it's gaining? Where was it five years ago? Or ten years ago? How could you really tell for that matter - what counts as FOSS "market share"? Ubuntu CD download counts? Come on, market share is a fallacious argument when discussing MS' competition, not so much with regards to Mac admittedly. Newegg alone sells $millions in computer hardware daily; is all of that system hardware being counted against MS' totals? Or the people who buy a legit OEM XP to run games (like me) and use Linux for 97% of my other tasks?

    I know that neither of my folks were using Linux even two years ago, but they are now... given no support, I can't possibly imagine how the three of us together would count in any market share statistics - but together we make up five computers which run Linux as a desktop OS.

    I also see a very surprising number of laptops with Linux on them at school - apparently a lot of students have discovered the giant multiple-DVD-sized heap of free software that you get with most FOSS OS'; things like circuit simulators, databases, publishing packages, music composition software, development tools, a gazillion little addictive games for the not-so-hardcore gamers (parents love those too btw), etc.

    Now all that said, do you think MS will deliver an even better Windows any time sooner than 5 years? How long will it take them to get all these "features" working together that were supposed to be in Vista 3 years ago? They've hyped Vista through the stars, they can't exactly come out in a year with a new Windows... they could make a very drastic service pack and charge people for it, which is actually the most likely case from what I've heard.

    Windows really does have a lot of competitive pressure on it.
  • by MidKnight (19766) on Monday November 27, 2006 @04:26PM (#17006444)
    Re-writing the whole thing would have probably cause more harm than good. Just my personal two cents.
    I wholly agree: from the external perspective, it sounded like a lot of the developers fell into the classic S/W development trap: re-write something for the sole reason that "We can make it better this time". Very rarely does this ever fit a customer's actual desires... but developers almost always want to do it anyway (myself included).

    I'd love to hear the internal perspective of how the 'reset' decision finally came about inside Microsoft. Who took responsibility for it? Did Microsoft's upper management shoot the messenger, or did they reward them for making what must've been a very contentious decision for solid business reasons. I'm sure that'll make for an interesting book if someone ever cares to write it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @04:29PM (#17006480)
    Yeah, him and Paul Graham are the master aggrandizers of software development, hiring practices, etc. Personally, I think there's nothing but hubris there. I've met some great developers who never enounced nearly as much verbal onanisms as either one of them, yet they could more than just earn their keeps.

    On the other hand, without the Joel Spolskys, Paul Grahams, there would be no glamour factor for the software industry. No one would make software basically LOOK GOOD :).

    Do I think software engineers are generally bright people? Yes. But so are mathematicians, physicists, doctors, lawyers, historians, politicians, economists, etc. Software devs are a new breed now, but 20-30 years down the road, when the industry matures even more, and software development becomes true software engineering (I believe it will happen), software engineering will be no more glamorous than any other engineering discipline which has been around for the last 100 years.
  • by Reaperducer (871695) on Monday November 27, 2006 @04:29PM (#17006484)
    on one of the tabs, you should see a "When laptop screen is closed:" option. It's probably set to "Suspend". Change it to "Do nothing".

    I don't think that's quite what he's looking for.

    I think he's looking for an option that reads more like "When laptop screen is closed and no keyboard or mouse are plugged in, do nothing, otherwise actually go to sleep."

    He seems to be looking for a bit more intelligence in his OS than what is currently available to him. If OS X gets him what he's looking for, then good for him. I will almost always advocate using the best tool for the job.
  • by odujosh (967823) on Monday November 27, 2006 @04:30PM (#17006486)
    Not to marginalize Joel or anything, but you can configure all behaivors. Like if you want your computer to sleep on shut lid it will. The default is it sleeps. Forcing it to one would be dumb. Take my case: I have dual monitors at home not using my laptops LCD. I want my lid closed my cat sleeps on it:) It was a really simple change to make. While someone else would want it to just turn off. MOST people just want it to sleep as they walk to class or between clients. You can have it do whatever you want. Why should microsoft decide what is best for me? That's what Joel is suggesting. Saying Vista sucks cause you don't like how they did the UI design of the power off buttons is kinda like complaining you don't the ash tray design in a BMW. And his comment about how he rather restart than log off a user and on as another is ignorant of the majority of the PC market. Most people it takes a minute or more to boot up. The log off and shut down are far more graceful in Vista. The user is finally in total control. The user could bring it down at break neck speed or save open documents without this enforced deadline XP caused. Maybe we should educate the user about a smart product instead dumbing down the product for ignorance we percieve in a user.
  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Monday November 27, 2006 @05:09PM (#17007034)
    No, I agree with you. You're completely correct that WinFS's scope was far beyond desktop search, but in reality, this is all the end user really cared about, and "plug-ins" to a desktop search that understands various database formats seems to solve the problem (in it's current state) better than the monstrosity of WinFS. Like you say, it would probably be 10 years before apps fully supported it anyways. It would likely be at least another 2-3 years before Office and other MS apps supported it, so it really had no use in Vista other than as a "Here it is, it's done, now start using it" approach.

    I don't think the developer world is ready for it. And the users can only benefit if the developers accept it.
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday November 27, 2006 @05:45PM (#17007610)
    It's got just a few layers of management and at the top 183 cardinals report to the Pope.


    As do a whole lot more archbishops, bishops, eparchs, archeparchs, and other ordinaries. However, the fairly flat formal heirarchy of the Church hardly reflects the reality of the practical administration of the Church, which is rather more labyrinthine.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Monday November 27, 2006 @06:49PM (#17008626)
    I doubt its because the SCC cannot handle the physical number of users (5000 users, for MS and its unlimited hardware budget, I mean, come on, no way) but the way these users interact with each other.

    If you have 5000 devs checking stuff in, if 1 of them does something that breaks the nightly build just once each, then you'll actually never produce anything the ever compiles. Instead you have to come up with some solution to this issue. Options are: make developers work on totally separate products (eg, Media Player has no dependencies on anything in the kernel, shell etc so they can do what they like knowing they won't break anything other that Media Player), or make devs work on subtrees.

    Whilst the first is arguably the better option, its not always feasible, and I think MS way of working means that you end up with dependencies between projects - eg, the Shutdown UI was dependent on features in the Shell and Kernel even if these dependencies were made by contract (eg, Shutdown team said 'we need the following functionality, once you've implemented it we'll finish our job') the bureaucracy of MS meant that wasn't possible (ie, you can't be paid to sit around for a month waiting for the kernel team to fulfill their contract with you).

    So, the 2nd option was utilised - you check your stuff into a branch that gets merged once you've completed your work. The trouble is that the project is so large that you're working on a branch that is branched off a branch, which in turn is branched.

    Linux works the same way - no-one works off the main trunk, you'd check work into (eg) a test branch that gets merged into a unstable one, that then gets merged into the root.
  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Monday November 27, 2006 @07:07PM (#17008884)
    you want software to look good, hire a UI designer and a graphic artist.
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Monday November 27, 2006 @07:15PM (#17009008)
    And look where they are now

    Record Mac sales every quarter, market dominance in portable media players, billions in cash, and an earned status of media darling and industry leader. You're right, what a disaster!

    By the way, the majority of Windows market share comes from enterprise volume licenses. Take those out of the equation, and Windows market share goes down considerably. Market share is just a percentage of sales in a year, not user base or industry impact. Mercedez-Benz doesn't dominate the automobile industry in market share either.
  • by lahi (316099) on Monday November 27, 2006 @07:27PM (#17009166)
    Actually, this is the victory for the Mac (from the other blog entry, by Moishe Lettvin):
    My team had a very talented UI designer and my particular feature had a good, headstrong program manager with strong ideas about user experience. We had a Mac that we looked to as a paragon of clean UI. Of course the Shell team also had some great UI designers and numerous good, headstrong PMs who valued (I can only assume) simplicity and so on. Perhaps they had a Mac too


    Personally, I dislike the Mac OS X interface, and prefer the original system 6/7 interface, the Apple HIG people did lots of great work, and it showed. But in any case, the above quote said all that needed to be said.

    Windows 95 = Mac 84, etc.

    (The real problem we face today, however, is that nowhere is a new Doug Engelbart, or Alan Kay, or Jef Raskin, or Bruce Tognazzini, or Ted Nelson, etc to be found. Human interface research seems to have stagnated. Apparantly the interface we use now is good enough - worse is always better. What a pity. Oh well, I can get by OK with XFCE and some xterms on my NetBSD laptop.)

    -Lasse
  • Vista Features? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hemogoblin (982564) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:43PM (#17011544)

Put no trust in cryptic comments.

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