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Inside The Development of Windows NT 707

Posted by Hemos
from the making-the-monster dept.
mrpuffypants writes "Winsupersite has a 3 part series this month about the history and development of Windows NT all the way up through Windows Server 2003. The author goes fairly in-depth describing how Windows is developed, managed, and how all 50 million+ lines are compiled daily. Part One covers the history of NT from its early days at Microsoft and Part Two discusses how the deployment of the forthcoming server version of Windows is coordinated daily." *shiver*
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Inside The Development of Windows NT

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  • hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by garcia (6573) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @11:55AM (#5335181) Homepage
    The stuffed mascot [winsupersite.com] in the background looks an awful lot like someone else we know ;)
    • Re:hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @11:58AM (#5335207)
      Sorry, but I think that's Waddle, the Beanie Buddy (a larger version of Waddle, the Beanie Baby). Penguins are cool to a lot of folks - and not all stuffed penguins are Tux.
      • Re:hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:04PM (#5335254)
        don't you find it sad that you know that?

        Plus, I think it was pointed out b/c it was the "war-room" and there was a penguin in it.
      • by ausoleil (322752) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @02:26PM (#5336620) Homepage
        Microsoft's record of "innovation" has sunk to a new low -- now it looks like they are going to embrace-extend-exterminate Tux. These bozos can't even invent their own mascot...but then again, a furry, squishy bug (the animal most reminiscent of Windows, IMHO) isn't the most inspiring marketing tool.

        Bet they claim they had a penguin for a mascot all along and it was those hippies, foreigners and un-American freaks that stole their idea and made Tux the mascot for that mean ole' Linux.

        How typical.
    • by newsdee (629448) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @01:26PM (#5335971) Homepage Journal
      That mascot is probably reserved for voodoo rituals :-) Geek or not, it's still MS... :-)

  • by Limburgher (523006) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @11:57AM (#5335195) Homepage Journal
    First line:

    #!/bin/bash

  • NT == VAX OS? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @11:59AM (#5335209)
    I thought the initial NT "heavily borrowed" (MS tradition) from the Digital Equipment Corp (now part of HP) VAX operating system. Then it gradually incorporated parts of the evolving Windows/DOS OS.
    • Re:NT == VAX OS? (Score:5, Informative)

      by guy-in-corner (614138) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:00PM (#5335223)
      No. Dave Cutler, who was lead developer for NT, was previously one of the lead developers for VMS. I don't think that MS actually took any of the source code from VMS for NT, however.
    • Re:NT == VAX OS? (Score:5, Informative)

      by scrytch (9198) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:15PM (#5335355)
      I thought the initial NT "heavily borrowed" (MS tradition) from the Digital Equipment Corp (now part of HP) VAX operating system. Then it gradually incorporated parts of the evolving Windows/DOS OS.

      That would be VMS (some VAXen ran Ultrix, poor things). IBM and MS started a collaboration called OS/2, then later decided to part ways. Whatever MS's other motives were in the split, MS was staking its entire future on what was to IBM a toy project, so MS wasn't entirely enthusiastic about development at IBM speed. IBM kept the OS/2 name, MS hired Dave Cutler from DEC, Cutler dubbed the new fork WNT: that's the letters after VMS, and any expansion is entirely a backronym.

      NT does include some of VMS's heritage, including strong async I/O support throughout. The DOS stuff is really a matter of emulating the interface -- a whole lot of work went into making drive letters and backslashes work everywhere, believe it or not. Not surprisingly, it tends to share more in common with OS/2, with the supervisor design and the object manager for starters.
      • Re:NT == VAX OS? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by leandrod (17766)
        >
        IBM and MS started a collaboration called OS/2, then later decided to part ways.

        Actually MS stabbed IBM in the back by breaking the agreement (MS-W16 never to get 32 bits or a DOS virtual machine, OS/2 forever) without warning by launching MS-W3.1. This effectively killed OS/2 and made going from OS/2 3.0 NT to MS-WNT a no-brainer for MS.

        >
        MS wasn't entirely enthusiastic about development at IBM speed

        You mean IBM quality, not speed. OS/2 development speed wasn't so bad; in fact, they decided to go for a command-line only, i286 version initially in order to ship early.

        The real problem is that MS wanted to push forward the stupid MS Win16 API inherited from MS Windows 1.0 for the IBM-PC/XT, and IBM knew it was garbage. Also MS realised it could get more money by selling a product without any interoperability or standardisation, while IBM would have made it interoperable, documented and stable -- as they still do with the current IBM OS/2.

    • Re:NT == VAX OS? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Marsala (4168)
      That's a pretty big oversimplification of the matter. Basically, David Cutler left Digital after DEC decided to ax a project he was working on to build a new chip and an OS to go along with it, Microsoft offered him a job to work on the chip and the OS, and Cutler managed to recruit most of his dev team from DEC for the new MS squad.

      So saying that NT is just VMS part II isn't really accurate, but the same guilty parties are involved. If you can find it, there was a book called _ShowStopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT_ that does a pretty good job of chronicling the history of NT during its early days.

      Know thy enemy, and all that. :-)
  • NT & VMS (Score:5, Informative)

    by syr (647840) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @11:59AM (#5335211)
    Here's more background information including VMS data [winntmag.com].

    GameTab [gametab.com] - Game Reviews Database

    • VMS + 1 = WNT (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jjga (612356)
      It is interesting how incrementing each of the letters in VMS gives WNT. It is something similar to IBM and HAL.

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @11:59AM (#5335214) Homepage Journal

    0) CVS checkout the latest net stuff from freebsd.org
    1) Look at code and scratch head until "A-ha!"; enlightenment.
    2) Merge code into Windows source
    3) go to 0
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @11:59AM (#5335216)
    We thought, 'How hard could it be to build an OS?' and scheduled 18 months to build NT. But we had forgotten about some of the important stuff--user mode, networking, and so on."

    Either this means that the NT team were actually fairly clueless...or incredibly cocky. Either way, that seems like a pretty stupid thing to say.
  • by wiggys (621350) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:00PM (#5335221)
    I always thought they hired a million monkeys, a million typewriters, a plentiful supply of bananas and left them to it...
  • by ggruschow (78300) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:00PM (#5335224)
    Show-Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows Nt and the Next Generation at Microsoft [amazon.com] is a full on book on the NT development team, process, and timeline. I rather liked it.
  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CoolVibe (11466) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:02PM (#5335232) Journal
    Both articles feel like "feel-good" articles. There is little mention about IBM and OS/2, and the relationship between the two in the beginning of NT.

    It's just a big advertising piece about how NT is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sure, it has some entertaining facts, but I'm still not buying it.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mrpuffypants (444598) <mrpuffypants@gma3.14159il.com minus pi> on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:09PM (#5335303)
      Winsupersite is, for the most part, a very pro-microsoft website...however, even if their reviews and previews may be slanted a bit they still get very early releases of different products and write decent reviews of them...with lots of screenshots!
    • I think that is because the articles are trying to give a very general overview of the life cycle of NT. The various corporate dealings of Microsoft aren't of consequence when discussing how a huge project such as NT gets off the ground and how new demands cause new solutions to be found. And the article did mention that the choice to go to Win32 rather than OS/2 helped to sour the relationship between IBM and Microsoft. What more did you want?

      And while you're right that this article is a very happy view of NT, it's interesting from the standpoint of how a project grows and new versioning control systems are added to handle such growth. Sure, the articles are heavy on fluff and light on details - but Microsoft is closed source. They're not going to give you much more. I honestly am not sure why you're so upset with these articles.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tshak (173364) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:30PM (#5335480) Homepage
      NO, it's a piece made by developers, you know, people who care about code, not all of the politics and conspiracy theory's around them.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by IntlHarvester (11985) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @01:01PM (#5335752) Journal
      The article pretty much hits on the main point of contention between IBM and Microsoft -- IBM just wasn't interested in their Windows project.

      There was a simmering fight over whether OS/2 should be "Protected Mode Windows" or whether Windows should be "Presentation Manager for DOS". Since neither platform had that many users or developers at the time, it could have gone either way.

      The key characteristic of the new API, eventually named Win32, is that, though it was a new API, it looked and acted just like the 16-bit Windows APIs, letting developers easily move to the new system and port their applications. "We made it possible to move 16-bit applications to NT very easily,"

      While they make this sound like a Gee Whiz revelation, but in fact Microsoft wanted Windows compatibility in OS/2 from the beginning and IBM wanted a unique API.

      Since IBM wore the pants, they won the day originally. However this really bit them in the ass with the the subsequent popularity of Windows 3, because it was difficult to target OS/2, so software was either missing or dismissed as a poor Windows port.

      Not that Win32 was a huge success in the early years either -- most software had to be run in the Win 3.1 emulation, and even MS themselves only belatedly produced a 32-bit version of Office and not much other software.
  • Alpha (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deacent (32502) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:02PM (#5335243)

    I see a lot of complaining in the article about how some architectures were not ready for NT on a timely basis (Intel i860, PowerPC), but I see no mention how they were so slow to bring NT to the Alpha. I recall that DEC actually ended up porting VMS to the Alpha because they were waiting on MS for their promised NT release. I'm a bit curious to hear from the developers about their perspective on that.

    I've used both NT and VMS on the Alpha (as well as a Unix varient). NT is sooooo slow.

    -Jennifer

    • Re:Alpha (Score:4, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:07PM (#5335281) Homepage
      I have actually heard that NT ran better on the Alpha UDB than other OSs that run on it. The Alpha UDB was designed to be a small NT workstation.

      Linux runs fine on mine but from what I hear NT also runs on it fairly well. I guess we would have had to be running it when the UDB first came out to make any sort of educated descision on that.

      Anyone have first-hand experience w/NT on the UDB?
      • Re:Alpha (Score:5, Informative)

        by Elbereth (58257) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:21PM (#5335395) Journal
        Yeah. NT on the UDB was actually pretty tolerable. I ran NT4 Server on a 166 MHz 21066 (first generation Alpha). I found it to be quite usable. I didn't keep NT4 on the Alpha for all that long, as this was just an experiment. I had the NT4 disc, I had a UDB, and I had some time to waste.

        You have to remember that NT4 was a 32 bit operating system, even on the Alpha. Therefor, you didn't really gain much by going to the Alpha, except for some nice speed boosts (it was definitely the fastest CPU on the market for years).

        It was similar to running NT4 on a Pentium Pro 166 or 200.

        The biggest problem I had was finding software. However, everyone's favorite telnet app, putty, comes compiled for NT4/Alpha.

        The Register previously offered Windows 2000 for the Alpha, if you asked them for it. I never did, since my UDB was seriously underpowered (128MB RAM, 166 MHz).
    • Re:Alpha (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:12PM (#5335326) Homepage Journal

      how they were so slow to bring NT to the Alpha.

      Really.

      I was surprised to learn from the article how the early NT was so non x86 centric, shifting from i860 to R3000, etc. They even boast of the portability to different hardware because they weren't tied down to the x86 instruction set so tightly as were the 16 bit Windows developers at the time.

      So, why, then, did the Alpha port of NT take so long? And, from what I understand, it relied heavily upon the ability of the early Alpha chip to run in some FX!32 compatibility mode to emulate the x86 instruction set.

      The Alpha/NT story just doesn't seem to add up to me. There's some missing dark matter.

      • by idiotnot (302133) <sean@757.org> on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:43PM (#5335612) Homepage Journal
        In the same article, it mentions the changes with the graphics subsystem in NT 4.0. IIRC, NT 4.0 only supported i386 and Alpha, while NT 3.51 those, plus ppc and mips.

        They moved the graphics subsystem into the kernel, and it ceased to be a microkernel. When pretty much everything lives in userland, portability is pretty easy. In fact, you can essentially write a new kernel (with the same external interfaces) for each architecture if need be. You also get neat features like being able to restart networking or the graphics system if they crash, without bringing down the system.

        The problem that you have on i386 is that context switching is expensive (read: slow as a dog). On other platforms (sparc, ppc), it's not that big a deal.

        Now, Windows doesn't look like a microkernel at all. And it's not at all portable, either. From what I understand, the Itanic port is giving them big headaches, and Intel is none-too-pleased about it.
  • by bplipschitz (265300) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:03PM (#5335246)
    "You compile it today."

    "No way--*you* compile it!"

    "No way! Hey--let's get Mikey, he'll compile *anything*!"
  • Security? (Score:5, Funny)

    by elliotj (519297) <slashdot.elliotjohnson@com> on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:05PM (#5335266) Homepage
    "By late 1989, the NT group began growing. They added a formal networking team and expanded the security team beyond a single individual who, incidentally, had also been previously burdened by file system and localization development."

    You mean they've got more than one guy working on security for Windows? Oh come on, who's gonna believe that?
  • Compiled? (Score:5, Funny)

    by patvan (234768) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:06PM (#5335273)
    I thought it was forged deep within Mt. Doom...
  • by Toasty16 (586358) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:06PM (#5335274) Homepage
    Bill Gates: "We need an OS that doesn't suck."

    Engineers: "No problem, we'll release betas every year and you can sell them to the public for the price of a finished product."

    Bill Gates: "Good idea. What do you think Steve?"

    Steve Ballmer: "Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers...*wheeze* *hack* *cough*...."

    Bill Gates: "It's ideas like those that will make you CEO in 10 years."

  • by defile (1059) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:08PM (#5335291) Homepage Journal

    ...so full of shit?

    To step around the topic for a second:

    Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows is dedicated to providing all of the information you need to evaluate Microsoft's current and upcoming Windows operating system technologies. These exciting products include Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows XP Media Center Edition (code-named Freestyle) Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Windows Media 9 Series (code-named Corona), and Windows Server 2003, which will launch in April.

    Sounds like it'll be an EXCITING, unbiased, hard hitting, honest review to me!

    Maybe that's not the best example. But even when you read technical treatises on Microsoft technologies the authors always manage to pack in gushing, surrealist praise.

    Wasn't there even a book? THE AWESOME POWER OF DIRECT3D? Amusingly enough, it was released several months after John Carmack and the rest of the gaming industry started bitching Microsoft out for pushing Direct3D over the clearly superior OpenGL.

    I'd hate to be all conspiracy here, but damn it's either that or believing that all Microsoft reviewers/writers are really stupid.

    • Re:Not stupid. . . (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bastian (66383) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:20PM (#5335380)
      . . . just naive and inexperienced.

      You know how to an 8-year-old boy, his dad's favorite sports team is the greatest thing in the world, able to turn lepers to supermodels and bath beads into geltabs? It's basically the same phenomenon.

      It stops being amusing after a couple years reading the /. GNU/Linux crowd do the same thing.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      >> John Carmack and the rest of the gaming industry started bitching Microsoft out for pushing Direct3D over the clearly superior OpenGL.

      Rest of the gaming industry? From my viewpoint it was Carmack alone.

      Clearly superior OpenGL? Depends what you're using it for. OpenGL certainly wasnt (and still isnt in many cases) faster on consumer level cards. Direct3D was developed alongside consumer level hardware supporting features that actually exist, OpenGL was designed on paper.

      By and large 3D gaming was being written for glide, and developers absolutely loved an open api specifically targetted for game development.
    • by Alric (58756) <slashdot@tenh u n d f e ld.org> on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:27PM (#5335449) Homepage Journal
      I have had this thought myself, more often lately. I have come to the conclusion that it's probably not an active conspiracy by MSFT. Instead, I think it is a passive effect of a monopoly system.

      My example:
      Reviewer A writes a technical summary of some new MSFT product. Reviewer A invested months learning this new product and how it fits into MSFT's overall strategy. Reviewer A runs a consulting firm that specializes in MSFT products. That firm has invested time in training its people to know the new MSFT product. Reviewer A is probably not conciously being unethical, but he needs people to use this new MSFT product so his firm can make money helping companies solve the new problems that this product created. He writes a review/book that highlights the good points and downplays the bad points.

      So, his review is biased, but it's not exactly a conspiracy by MSFT.
    • This isn't a conspiracy. It's an effect of what my granny would have called "knowing what side your toast is buttered on."

      It's endemic in the entire "review industry." In fact, it's rampant in the media industry. Do you think The Filthy Critic gets invited on junkets, or out on the yacht with all the hot, willing little starlets?

      Many reviewers are nothing more than karma whores. That's the reason for the founding of Consumer Reports.

      The ones who are not get "modded down" to the fringes and you're less likely to even come across them.

      That's the way it is, that is the way it shall be.

      KFG
  • by dracken (453199) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:09PM (#5335295) Homepage



    "On the day I attended, one feature group had four of its bugs punted to Longhorn because they had failed to shown up for War Room. When someone argued that they should be given another day, Wanke simply said, "F#$% 'em. If it was that important, they would have been here. It's in Longhorn. Next bug."


    Did one feature group have its *feature* postponed to longhorn or the *bug-fixes* postponed to longhorn ? hmmmmmm interesting.
    • ...for not showing up to the goddamned meetings with his bugfixes.
    • by thoth (7907)
      It is hard to tell. Bugs are filed for the obvious (software errors) but also things like new features desired, performance enhancements to be had, and occasionally things like rearchitecture needed (say, redo horribly confusing UI to something better).

      It is true though, when the war room meets you have to have somebody there to vouch for any fixes checked in to resolve bugs. Mostly the war room wants to hear about impact, if the fix was tested, any issues that arose from the testing (regressions and/or new problems), and if the fix is really needed.
  • by babycakes (564259) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:09PM (#5335298)
    "For Windows Server 2003, the War Room is run by Todd Wanke, who we eventually found to be an amazingly likeable guy. However, in the hour-long War Room sessions, Wanke rules with an iron fist" :)
  • by BenjyD (316700) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:09PM (#5335299)

    "...compiling and linking it into the executable and other components that make up a Windows CD is a 12 to 13 hour process that is done every day of the week

    So they rebuild Windows from scratch every day? Somebody send them a copy of make, please.

    • by BZ (40346) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:24PM (#5335430)
      If you look at other large projects of this type (eg Mozilla), both clean builds and dep builds using make are done on automated build systems. The two types of builds will find different types of issues.
    • by SnowDog_2112 (23900) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:29PM (#5335475) Homepage
      In all the software groups I've been involved in, it's considered good practice to do a full clean build nightly. Doing incremental builds is fine for developers, but when you want to make a drop that goes into an automated testing suite, etc., you do a full clean build each time, "just to be safe."
  • by DakotaSandstone (638375) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:11PM (#5335315)
    I know this is the equivalent of Flamebait on /., but the NT kernel (borrowed though it may be from other OS ideas) is actually darn good.

    Passing IRP's (IO request packets) between drivers creates a much more well-defined interface that a bunch of globally namespaced functions just calling each other (like some other OSes we all know). It also lends itself to a layered driver model (Bus Driver, Physical Driver, Functional Driver) much better.

    I really like the NT Kernel. What driver developers do with it isn't the kernel's fault.

    • by Elbereth (58257) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:29PM (#5335468) Journal
      The NT kernel was good. Then Microsoft moved the GUI into the kernel. We all know what happened after that. Okay, to be fair, the NT kernel is still pretty nice, but it's deeply annoying that Microsoft is so willing to sacrifice stability for a little more speed. I find it difficult to crash Win2k and XP, but it does happen... mostly from PC games.
      • I partially agree. I would have preferred to see it implemented both ways, then let the user/admin decide.

        If I want to run the GUI and video drivers in userspace for stability on a server or workstation, then I could. But the kernel mode is definately a huge speed boost for gaming, multimedia (remember how impossible it was to do anything like that under NT 4.0?)

        All in all, I probably like it better the way it is. I've never had a problem so long as I stick with WHQL certified drivers. It'd be nice to be able to choose.
      • by DakotaSandstone (638375) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @01:07PM (#5335802)
        Good point. That was a mixed blessing. But then again, so is the fact that any 3rd party can write a kernel driver (although MS is trying to assuage this with things like driver signing)

        I've read some interesting defenses of moving GDI to the kernel. Some of the rationale was:

        • GDI crashing, be it in the kernel or user mode, is basically a fatal system error. As designed, it is not clear how NT could "restart" a crashed user-mode GUI subsystem. Even if GDI is user mode, if it crashes, you'd probably have to reboot anyway.
        • There are many other complex subsystems that exist in the kernel, and have been made pretty bulletproof (scheduler, disk subsystem). What makes the graphics subsystem any more dangerous? Yes, moving code to the kernel requires less buggy code, but we're Microsoft, and we're up to the challenge. It can be done.

        Personally, I would love to see an OS take advantage of more than 2 of the 4 "rings" an x86 processor has. In such an OS, one could theoretically have a driver crash, and could still recover.

        Until that day, though, I agree - GUI subsystem code is hard to make bulletproof, and moving said code into the "sacred" kernel is pretty gutsy.

      • I have crshed Win2k Advanced server quite a number of times. Here are the latest few I can remember:

        Had three downloads coming down with Mozilla, nearly maxing out my connection (each about 700KB/s). Then, the machine bluescreened and said TCPIP.SYS (or something similar to do with networking... i forget exactly what it was) had dumped.

        Another instance was when I accidentally started 3 instances of outlook. The machine just bluescreened and rebooted. these are two different machinines. They are dual boot Linux/Win2k, and Linux works fine doing the same (type of) thing.

        I have also crashed linux, so don't think I am just trashing the NT kernel. Linux and NT could both use some work to get where some of the commercial unixes are. But, I think Win2k and Linux are fairly solid, but there is definately room for both kernels to improve, and we don't need to get started on the older VM problems either.

        I remember one day about a year ago when we managed to crash an N-class HPUX server. I thought the world might end - it is that stable. We found out it was a hardware failure that didn't manifest until several months down the road. Still, HPUX and Sub boxes are a lot more stable than windows or Linux, luckily that gap is getting smaller though and we get more stability for less money.
      • by Billly Gates (198444) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @03:03PM (#5337060) Journal
        "The NT kernel was good. Then Microsoft moved the GUI into the kernel",

        Boy, its a good thing that no frame buffers are in the Linux kernel.

    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @02:22PM (#5336578) Homepage
      I really like the NT Kernel. What driver developers do with it isn't the kernel's fault.

      Well....... maybe.

      I seem to recall an MS employee claiming that it was entirely Microsofts fault Windows was so unstable, even though crashes were normally caused by faulty drivers. His theory was that if MS were more open with the kernel code, driver manufacturers could work more closely and easier with them, and the overall stability would go up. Instead what happened (they claimed) was that they would investigate a crash, find that some dodgy driver was screwing about with the kernel and so they'd tighten up the interfaces, get even more secretive with the code. The driver developers, faced with a brick wall, would then invent even more elaborate (and fragile) hacks to do what they want, so the stability went down, not up.

      So, you can't really blame the kernel as a thing per se, but perhaps you can blame the management of it. Linux is now facing a similar problem with the growth of binary only drivers - they tend to hook into the ksyms and cause extremely hard to track down bugs, which is why they are no longer allowed to use those hooks.

  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:12PM (#5335320)
    If there are one or more bugs in IIS, for example, a representative of the IIS team needs to be present to not only explain the merits of the bug, but whether customers are affected, how the fix might affect other parts of the system, and how soon it will be fixed.

    To be honest, I don't see why they just don't hold these bug fixing meetings around the IIS guys desk :o)

  • by tshak (173364) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:12PM (#5335324) Homepage
    There are 5000 developers on the Windows team generating over 50 million lines of code for Windows Server 2003.

    I think it's safe to say that they're most defniitely _NOT_ using VSS!
  • by labratuk (204918) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:23PM (#5335424)
    "My god, it's full of crap!"
  • NT source (Score:5, Funny)

    by ptaff (165113) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:24PM (#5335427) Homepage
    Oh, so now we learn that NT is not from "New Technology".

    So in a couple of years we'll learn that:
    • ME: Miserable Everytime
    • CE: Cramped Environment
    • XP: Xor Performance
    • Office: Other File Formats Imply Collaboration: Encrypt!

    • by DeadBugs (546475)
      And of course when you combine their server (NT) with the Desktop (ME) and portable OS (CE) you get predictable results

      CE-ME-NT --- Cement.
  • War Room (Score:5, Funny)

    by The-Perl-CD-Bookshel (631252) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:26PM (#5335444) Homepage Journal

    "Okay, Next bug: Clicking 'cancel' button at login circumvents the authentication process. Security team! what is this?!?"

    "Uhhh Security Team isn't here today."

    "Yeah?!? Punt that bug to longhorn!"

    "Umm may-be we can give them ano-"

    "F*$# Them! Punt to longhorn, Next!"

  • Scariest quote: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pmcevoy (10501) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:28PM (#5335458) Homepage
    "The first two weeks of development were fairly uneventful, with the NT team using Microsoft Word to create the original design documentation...Finally, it was time to start writing some code."

    Does anyone else design an OS in two weeks?

  • by Lethyos (408045) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:28PM (#5335459) Journal
    The most amusing bit I found was this:
    "NT 3.51 was a very unrewarding release," Thompson said, contrasting it with Daytona. "After Daytona was completed, we basically sat around for 9 months fixing bugs while we waited for IBM to finish the Power PC hardware. But because of this, NT 3.51 was a solid release, and our customers loved it."
    How horrible for a monopoly software company to have its programmers sit around and do bug fixes! My God, how ever did they survive? Fixing bugs at Microsoft must be like... Hell.
  • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:31PM (#5335491)
    A year ago, Micro$oft claimed the future focus was security and stability. According to Part 2 of the article, the biggest issue now is the name change (from Windows .NET 2003 to Windows Server 2003). So, is this change for greater stability or something to do with marketing?
  • Bug handling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vrt3 (62368) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:34PM (#5335532) Homepage
    "NT 3.51 was a very unrewarding release," Thompson said, contrasting it with Daytona. "After Daytona was completed, we basically sat around for 9 months fixing bugs while we waited for IBM to finish the Power PC hardware. But because of this, NT 3.51 was a solid release, and our customers loved it."
    Does that mean they only solve bugs when there's nothing else to do?
  • Linux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 13Echo (209846) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:36PM (#5335547) Homepage Journal
    "Getting all those people going in the same direction, cranking out code, is an enormous task. Building the results of their work, compiling and linking it into the executable and other components that make up a Windows CD is a 12 to 13 hour process that is done every day of the week. It's the biggest software engineering task ever attempted. There are no other software projects like this." And Microsoft compiles the whole thing--all 50+ million lines of code, almost every single day, he said. "We're evolving the development environment all the time," Lucovsky noted."


    I think that they were forgetting about that orher large-scale software engineering task, in which thousands (tens of thousands?) of people crunch out code and compile software every day.

    What's that called?

    Linux.
  • by Capt_Troy (60831) <tfandango@noSpaM.yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:45PM (#5335630) Homepage Journal
    Looks like one of our guys is on the inside. Caught him on film. He's infiltrated the war team. Check him out, in the background by the TV...

    See it here [winsupersite.com]
  • by jsse (254124) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:48PM (#5335655) Homepage Journal
    When someone argued that they should be given another day, Wanke simply said, "F#$% 'em. If it was that important, they would have been here. It's in Longhorn. Next bug."

    C#, J#, S#....now we have F#....shall we pronounce it "Fuck Sharp"?
  • Competition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sql*kitten (1359) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @01:01PM (#5335753)
    It's really interesting to see how Microsoft actually relate to their competitors. They wanted to run on PPC, but IBM messed them around. They wanted to work with Novell, but Novell weren't interested. Even Intel failed to deliver on the promise of i860.

    Given that, is it any wonder that MS would rather do things "in house" than rely on third parties?
  • by davejenkins (99111) <slashdotNO@SPAMdavejenkins.com> on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @01:40PM (#5336081) Homepage
    I am astounded at the sheer number of developers involved-- well, let me clarify that-- the number that are being paid, overseen, and managed by a single entity for this code. Clearly we know where all the money from those licenses is going, but it's structurally flawed: as software evolves, it will take an increasing number (linear? geometric? exponential?) of developers to build and maintain that OS. However, by trying to maintain them all under one roof, with one management structure, one 'political system' if you will, will always either make the process needlessly inefficient or horribly expensive.

    I am reminded of the massive engineering projects the Soviets used to do just because they could-- it wouldn't make sense in terms of feeding their people or making their lives any more secure, but they did it because the central planners knew they could plan it.

    This seems similar-- NT will become such an incredible beast that the bureaucracy to maintain it will suffocate it, or they'll start taking shortcuts.
  • ReactOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dcuny (613699) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @01:59PM (#5336306)
    Why not have a look at ReactOS [reactos.com], an open source clone of NT?

    Unlike some doomed attempts to make a "better" Windows clone *cough*Freedows*cough* that degenerated into a puff of vaporware, the fine people at ReactOS have been keeping their noses to the grindstone and quietly worked away at getting an NT clone working. It's still a long way from replacing NT, as this screenshot [reactos.com] of the one and only GUI application shows.

    But if you want a free and open look at Inside the development of [a] Windows NT [clone], ReactOS is a good place to look.

    They've done a number of things right:

    • Shut up and coded...
    • Picked NT as a target instead of the more glitzy Win9x
    • And coded...
    • Focused on core features instead of the GUI
    • And coded...
    • Borrowed from Wine where it seemed sensible

    Did I mention they spend thankless hours coding?

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @02:01PM (#5336333) Homepage
    Let's see if I've got this right:

    "This late in the development process, bugs are often passed along, or "punted," to the next Windows release--Longhorn--if they're not sufficiently problematic."

    "The atmosphere in War Room is intimidating, and I spent most of my time in the room, silent and almost cowering, praying that Wanke wouldn't turn his attention to me or my group.... The most virulent treatment, naturally, is saved for those foolish enough to blow off a War Room meeting. On the day I attended, one feature group had four of its bugs punted to Longhorn because they had failed to shown up for War Room. When someone argued that they should be given another day, Wanke simply said, "F#$% 'em. If it was that important, they would have been here. It's in Longhorn. Next bug."

    So... in this macho atmosphere, reeking of testosterone... the punishment for not being that the bug meet is that... YOU DON'T HAVE TO FIX YOUR BUGS UNTIL THE NEXT MAJOR RELEASE?????????

    Words fail me...

  • Bugs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sstory (538486) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @02:04PM (#5336367) Homepage
    If they're really that fix-crazed, how come outlook has had the same bug (overly persistent and reappearing send/receive dialog box) for years now? I first got that bug on Outlook Express on Windows 95. Fast forward 5 years, and I have that bug on Outlook on Windows 2000.
  • by gosand (234100) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @02:25PM (#5336609)
    The speed at which the team was able to fix all of the branding graphics, text, and registry entries in the system is a testament to the company's dynamic process for fixing bugs, Wanke said. The problem was that several thousand changes needed to be made, and that would normally require several thousand new entries in the product's bug tracking system. "I went out and handpicked the three best developers on the team and said, 'just go and fix it.' One developer fixed over 7,000 references to [Windows] .NET Server. Let's just say that there are people I trust, and people I don't trust. I told these guys, 'don't tell me what you're doing. Just do it.'"

    Ahh, good ol' sed. I wonder if he used the Windows version, or if he booted up the Linux box? :-)

    This just goes to show that even the biggest software developers have to deal with "simple" requests like name changes that are very inefficient uses of engineers time. I want to know what super-duper advanced bug system they use.

  • by vena (318873) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @02:58PM (#5337009)
    all brought down routinely by 5 line scripts :(
  • by esarjeant (100503) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @03:18PM (#5337208) Homepage
    What I don't get is why it takes 10,000+ developers to develop an operating system. Granted, there are a few nifty utilities included, but it seems like a case of an awful lot of cooks.

    For comparison, the Empire State Building took a little over a year and had at most 3,400 workers on the project at any one time.

2.4 statute miles of surgical tubing at Yale U. = 1 I.V.League

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