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Microsoft Operating Systems Software Windows

Why Vista Took So Long 761

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 gibbdog ( 551209 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:46PM (#17003754)
    Sleep basically saves the machine state and leaves the RAM powered up... which uses very little energy (but can be important like on a laptop where you don't want to keep your RAM powered if you aren't going to be using your computer for say 12-24 hours...

    Hibernate writes the RAM contents to disk, then when it starts back up it writes back from the disk to the RAM, and brings up similar to sleep mode.

    Sleep is faster, hibernate takes it down farther and shuts power off completely.
  • by norfolkboy ( 235999 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:47PM (#17003772)
    I'm not sure how you've lasted so long then...

    "sleep" sends a computer into a low-power mode, but leaves the machine running, and information stays in RAM.

    "hibernate" sends RAM data to an image file on a hard disk, before turning the computer off, powering it down so the machine can be moved/unplugged/or just use no energy...
  • by yerM)M ( 720808 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:49PM (#17003796) Homepage
    This is one thing I absolutely love about the MacBooks. You just close the lid. Done.

    There are ways to switch user and restart. Both are in obvious places but you never see them unless you want.

    And there's more! If you want to use the MacBook with the lid closed, plug in an external keyboard. Done. I wish my PC laptop did these things.

  • by Daemonstar ( 84116 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:51PM (#17003828)
    Short summary:

    Sleep puts everything into "low-power" mode to save battery power (used for short trips where you are going to use the laptop again soon, etc; the battery is still being used). The laptop comes back quickly into its last state.

    Hibernate saves the state to the local hard drive (including memory contents). This requires enough storage space to save the state. After saving, the laptop is powered off (no battery usage). Upon reactivation, it reads the file and goes back to how it was before hibernating. It takes longer to "reawaken", but it saves battery power and boot-up time. On my home computer, restoring from hibernation is quicker than booting from a cold-start.

    Btw, this is just an off-the-cuff summary; I may be lacking on some of the details. :)
  • by MrCrassic ( 994046 ) < minus language> on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:52PM (#17003840) Journal

    I've read other blogs in regards to Windows Vista, and from what I am gathering the primary reason why Windows Vista took so long to complete was because of management. Philip Su argued how the gargantuan amount of code included in Vista slowed it development dramatically, however I think that this strengthens my point and the point made in this article.

    However, I'm not terribly surprised that this occurred for Vista. The higher execs at the company wanted Vista to be a revolution and had a clear and concise goal that they wanted this operating system to achieve. In order to do this, from what I've read, they needed to form many more separate divisions inside of the Windows division to concentrate on small parts of the operating system. This probably sounded like a good idea, but the problem was that none of their work was in sync with each other. Some had more work completed than others. Furthermore, rifts within divisions such as the one present here spurred disagreement after disagreement, that including the decision to switch the codebase of the OS to the one present in Server 2003 (something that from what I understand should have been decided from the beginning). With all of this, it was only inevitable that confusion and miscommunication would occur.

    All in all, while I think Windows Vista is definitely more capable than Windows XP and warrants itself a much needed upgrade, I feel that the actual improvements of the operating system [] do not warrant a five-year delay. Okay, so the compositing manager, networking stack, and audio stack may have needed some time to complete, but five-years? I am not a programmer, so my impression may not carry a lot of weight, but being that Linux and UNIX based systems have already included some of these "future technologies," it becomes naive to deem this delay as acceptable.

  • Re:Why RTFA? (Score:5, Informative)

    by stevesliva ( 648202 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:56PM (#17003896) Journal
    Doesn't "the approximately 24 people who worked on the shutdown menu" already tell you everything you need to know?
    No, it's worse than that:
    In small programming projects, there's a central repository of code. Builds are produced, generally daily, from this central repository. Programmers add their changes to this central repository as they go, so the daily build is a pretty good snapshot of the current state of the product.

    In Windows, this model breaks down simply because there are far too many developers to access one central repository -- among other problems, the infrastructure just won't support it. So Windows has a tree of repositories: developers check in to the nodes, and periodically the changes in the nodes are integrated up one level in the hierarchy. At a different periodicity, changes are integrated down the tree from the root to the nodes. In Windows, the node I was working on was 4 levels removed from the root. The periodicity of integration decayed exponentially and unpredictably as you approached the root so it ended up that it took between 1 and 3 months for my code to get to the root node, and some multiple of that for it to reach the other nodes. It should be noted too that the only common ancestor that my team, the shell team, and the kernel team shared was the root.
    Sounds like an even better way--better than adding even more people--to ensure that nothing good is ever invented outside of isolated development silos, and that bugs in code won't pop out until months after it was checked in.
  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:04PM (#17004046) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, in XP you have to choose "Turn Off Computer" to bring up the dialog box that has the option to merely put it to sleep. I wonder how many people leave their XP systems running because they forget the sleep option is carefully hidden?
  • by hklingon ( 109185 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:04PM (#17004062) Homepage
    Ok. I've been running vista on one machine or another for a while.. since early beta.. and am now running the release version on my main machine. There are quite a few headscratchers in here. I often tell my colleagues I'm like the little kid from the 6th sense.. except instead of dead people I see bugs. Things that annoy the crap out of me that have been there at least one maybe two versions of windows ago.

    In the past days of clicking through endless options and dialogs to configure things such as encryption certificates, etc I often wondered if this was really better than editing a single line in an easy-to-find text file.

    Start menu? Hardly ever used the damn thing. Shortcut keys with and I put the quicklaunch bar off to one side with the 40 or so frequently used programs I use.

    Vista doesn't support dragging the quicklaunch bar off of the stat menu and off to one side because it was "confusing to end users." No one seems to have found a registry override as yet.

    Vista doesn't handle symlinks properly. It used to be "c:\documents and settings" but now in vista it is c:\users. I see a clever little "C:\documents and settings" shortcut on my C drive. OOOOoo is this a symlink? No? I get Access Denied when trying to double-click. Opening the path via an API however works fine. Go figure.

    BUGS. Features? Half-Features? Call them what you want. I think most technical folks that have to work on this know these problems exist but architecturally or bureaucratically they are hard or impossible to fix.

    Often on XP, 2000, NT and 95 I would hit control-esc then R for run and type frequently used programs into run. I would say this is just an odd quirk about me and how I think menus take too long and too much work to do something, but now the run area has been replaced with a little place you type in stuff and through the magic of windows desktop search it finds whatever you type in the area above that normally occupied by program icons. The bug? You have to let it search. No matter what. Yeah, WTF? This works great on a home PC where you maybe have maybe 10,000 files. Network drives? Oh no. You can't just type n:\ then hit enter. You have to physically wait a sec for it to pull up n:\ in the list of programs above the start menu THEN hit enter. WOW, WHAT A GREAT FEATURE. No more control-esc n:\ enter for me. It is nowctrl+esc n:\ wait..wait..wait.. enter. Otherwise I get some random program like Notepad. Or Flash. Or Firefox.

    On the one hand I can see how the start menu splaying itself all over your screen as you "drill down" to whatever the hell obscure program you need might be unappealing. On the other hand confining the entirety of all programs available to you to a 400x600 pixel window doesn't seem like a good fix.

    This is just the start menu. Don't even get me started on the new file explorer, which is the least half-baked area of Vista in my opinion. Does Slashdot have an option for submitting a rant and getting comments? I'm sure I could go on all day.

    I take all this as evidence that a lot of new features in vista are based on good ideas.. new paradigms in UI design.. it just seems that the vast majority are implemented poorly at best and implemented recklessly at worst. I would not expect this in 2006 when others are able to produce such polished and solid OSs. I would have to agree this seems like code-rot from the inside out probably due to the megalithic internal structure at MS

  • by nelsonal ( 549144 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:13PM (#17004242) Journal
    Successful organizations arise anew from the ashes of their destruction (and you thought the Phoenix was just a cool story to scare children). Paragraph 2 and 3 [] in the middle life section of the Nintendo article covers the rise, dilution, decline, and fall of Nintendo (which had diversified into taxi's, love hotels, network TV, food, and other products) resulting in near bankruptcy before they hired Miyamoto and completely changed the company's focus.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:14PM (#17004262)
    Four years? Glad you aren't on my team. That'd be ONE question I'd ask during an interview.

    SLEEP generally means the drive and monitor power down. RAM remains powered along with the system board and the CPU takes a nap. When it wakes up the drive spins up, the monitor turns on and the system is 'up' very quickly. I have Vista on my laptop with Standby and it's about 3 seconds to 'wake up'. Much faster than XP which took between 8-11 seconds.

    Hibernate means the system puts all the stuff in RAM onto the drive and powers off completely. You can remove the battery/hardware. Good stuff if, like me, you use a laptop and swap batteries or need to stow the system for >24 hours.

    Do ME a favor. Learn this nonsense because it does matter to your job.

    I understand this stuff is confusing, for users and geeks but I don't see why a video isn't played during startup/install.

  • by toleraen ( 831634 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:17PM (#17004320)
    Just curious, but how would it be as fast as sleeping? Writing to a high quality CF takes about the same amount of time as it does to a HDD.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Monday November 27, 2006 @02:20PM (#17004378) Homepage
    I forgot to mention that suspend on my Mac takes next to no power. When I wake it up I've seen it's little battery indicator say that it has enough juice for 10 days or so. I seriously doubt that, but I've left it suspended all day with no AC adapter and seen next to no battery loss so it may be possible. It's not as little power use as turning it off, but the time savings are enormous.
  • Credibility? (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:04PM (#17005122)
    When a person makes a comment like:

    "Why do you want the power off? If you're concerned about power usage, let the power management software worry about that."

    Everyone should really step back from the article and realize either he is trying really hard to pretend to be stupid, or is stupid.

    (In the wisdom of Mencia)
    Dee Dee Dee, I can think of one reason I would want to worry about power usage, like a laptop.

    I am also concerned that he is instructing his uncle to use the 'advanced' menu to turn off the computer. MS Made it scary easy, there are TWO BUTTONS on the screen that either lock the computer or lock it and power it off. (The menu he details should not be something average users ever touch.)

    Additionally, am I not like most people, because I actually use the provided sleep and Power buttons on the keyboard/physical computer anymore?

    Working as intended, sorry Joel isn't able to keep up with the two button interface and is playing with the advanced menu, since it seems out of his understanding.
  • by ElephanTS ( 624421 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @03:20PM (#17005358)
    You can tell something is very wrong when the lamentable Zune software doesn't work properly (or at all) in Vista beta. I mean what the hell is going on? How could they be this far wrong?
  • by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @04:23PM (#17006398)
    While you essentially have a somewhat correct position, all your facts and deductions are wrong.

    1) Longhorns original schedule was mid-2003 (Whistler Server (eventaully called Windows 2003) had been scheduled for 2002 for almost a year before XP Shipped).

    2) Longhorn started with the XP codebase.

    3) The Longhorn reset started with the Windows 2003 SP1 codebase.

    4) The "Reset" happend in 2004, not 2003.

    5) It was not "add-on" development, it was essentially re-architecting the entire OS to be .NET based, something which nothing was really ready for, and was far too large of a job.

    6) They didn't have problems "getting the features to play well with each other", they simply weren't ready, and wouldn't be ready for the OS ship. In the case of WinFS, it was simply an over-architected solution to a simple problem that was much better solved by simple indexing.

    7) Not "all" of the exciting features were removed. As I said above, WinFS turned out to be something that wasn't really needed or wanted. Monad was relagated to ship post launch, EFI turned out to be useless because no computers were using it in consumer PC's, and NGSCB (Palladium) was so highly criticised that nobody wanted it anyways.

    The features that were dropped were largely irrelevant, or unwanted, meanwhile the list of things that are new in Vista is huge. Check out the wikipedia entry: ws_Vista []

    Now, that may still not be enough for a lot of people to upgrade, or they may not be features a lot of people really care about, but to claim that "all the exciting new OS features had been removed" is simply bogus.
  • by Mountaineer1024 ( 1024367 ) on Monday November 27, 2006 @06:59PM (#17008754) Homepage
    Monad has actually been released recently.
    They've renamed it Powershell and it's available here: ogies/management/powershell/default.mspx []

    I'm a little surprised there hasn't been a slashdot article, at least so the bash fanbois can go on about how blatant a copy this is... :)
  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @05:11PM (#17023982)
    You've had it explained TWICE now that the higher taxes were absolute figures (even allowing for inflation), not percentages.

    OK; you've not explained anything to me before, as that was my first post in this thread. But carry on. Percentages are more meaningful because they allow us to determine the impact on individual people, which is the only real relevance of this, surely? But if you want "absolute figures allowing for inflation"...

    And do you really believe that tax revenue in 1976 was HIGHER than it is today?

    In inflation-adjusted terms, yes. In 1976, total managed expenditure in the UK was £300bn (approx) whereas in 2005 it was £500bn (in 2005-adjusted pounds). In terms of percentages of national income (which, for a variety of reasons, is the only meaningful measure) it was 50% in 1976 but only 42% in 2005. Its lowest point over the last 40 years was in 2001, where it dropped to 38%.

    FACT: The UK government is collecting MORE in taxes today, even when taking into account inflation, than it was ten years ago.

    Wrong. In 1996, tax income was £286.4bn; in 2005 (latest year available) it was &451.4bn. £286.4bn in 1996 is worth roughly £504bn in 2006.

    FACT: The UK government has never collected less taxes in any year than it did in the prior year, since the 1980s.

    Incorrect. The new year tax revenue was less than the previous year's adjusted for inflation in 1990, 1992, 2001 and 2002.

    FACT: The entire rationale behind lowering income tax percentages was to encourage people to earn more and therefore pay more in taxes over-all.

    Yes; lower tax rates are generally held to create a better economic climate, which does generally, in the end, result in higher tax revenues. Your point?

    FACT: There has only ever been one decrease in VAT (fuel tax).

    Actually, there were two. Fuel was reclassified from 17.5% to 8% in 1994 and then reduced further to 5% in 1997. There's only been one increase in the last 25 years (all the data I have available) from 15% to 17.5% in 1991. I believe this is the only increase there has ever been. The reduced rate has also been extended to a number of other products beside fuel, now.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!