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Microsoft's Not So Happy Family 586

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the managers-doing-their-jobs-asking-a-bit-much dept.
D.A. Zollinger writes "Reports from Redmond are that Microsoft Employees are not happy with the double delay of Windows and Office being pushed back into 2007. EETimes is reporting that some Microsoft employees are calling for the termination of several top managers Including Brian Valentine, Jim Allchin, and Steve Ballmer for the delay debacle. The report references a blog by Who da'Punk, an anonymous Microsoft employee who asks, where's the accountability for failure? So far the blog entry has generated over 350 comments from Microsoft insiders and outsiders."
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Microsoft's Not So Happy Family

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:43AM (#14997208) Homepage Journal
    Not a good day to be a fly on the wall in Ballmers office.

    "I'm going to fucking kill Microsoft!"
    HURL!
    THUD!
    SPLAT!

    Actually though, chopping the head off the chicken might seem like a good idea at the time until you realise its the arsehole that becomes the new leader.
  • It's unfortunate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:51AM (#14997227)
    Here's the thing. It's not like setting a schedule is going to magically make something happen. Programs are written by programmers, they aren't willed into existence by Gantt charts, no matter what PMs think.

    The only problem here is not that the release was pushed back, it's that someone's Gantt chart wasn't updated with good information. So when the real numbers went in, the "realistic shipdate" suddenly met reality.

    Should someone get fired? Yeah. Probably the managers who didn't do their job and keep upper management up to date with correct project status. Anyone else? Yeah. Those managers who took a ship or die attitude and will end up burning their teams out in the next year. And finally those managers who knew reality but continued to live in their fairyland (not the Mac one) where products are developed by sheer management willpower alone.

    Lots of blame to go around, but the bottom line is that the product was never going to make its shipdate. The question now is whether the revised date is realistic and how much is Microsoft willing to trim back features in order to meet it if further delays are encountered.
    • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:5, Interesting)

      by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblom@gmai l . com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:57AM (#14997240) Homepage Journal
      From what i understand they tried to rewrite the dungpile of spaghetticode in .Net technologies but failed to get any descent performance and stability, Late into the process they decided to rip the new code out and start over with the old code again. The mistake was that .Net isnt usable for larger projects.

      I would love to get some more facts about this, link away =)
      • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fwr (69372)
        O.K., how about this: VS 8 Performance makes it unuseable [microsoft.com]? I'm not sure it falls directly on your request for links to issues with .Net, but it may be involved. .Net 2.0 is a lot different than .Net 1.0/1.1. Are the VS 2005 (VS 8) IDE's written in .Net 2.0? It could be a prime example of one of Microsoft's own applications having performance issues due to the new version of .Net.
      • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:4, Interesting)

        by good-n-nappy (412814) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @10:13AM (#14997726) Homepage
        The only reason I read the comments on this story was to figure out what the heck Microsoft could have been doing all this time. Microsoft has a bad reputation with regard to the quality of their code. But they have a really good reputation for shipping products. I also know some really smart people working at Microsoft - and I'm sure there are lots of others I don't know.

        So I'm trying to figure out what all these smart people known for shipping products could have been doing all this time. The only thing that makes sense is a scenario like the one you described. In other words, that the management had some unrealistic requirement that they were unwilling to compromise. Porting mountains of existing code to .NET sounds exactly like one of the few things that could have bogged down so many smart people for so long. Maybe Microsoft finally is too big for their own good and they're collapsing under the weight of all the pointy haired bosses.
        • They do?!? (Score:5, Informative)

          by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Sunday March 26, 2006 @11:06AM (#14997901)
          Microsoft has a bad reputation with regard to the quality of their code. But they have a really good reputation for shipping products.

          This is news to me. Maybe you mean eventually shipping product, but their general reputation is for always being years late and always dropping features to make even the late dates.
          • Re:They do?!? (Score:3, Interesting)

            One of the comments in the blog addressed this. Basically every Microsoft OS project has been a mis-managed death march that shipped years behind schedule. Yet, for the most part, they've been successful on the technical level. When Windows 2000 came out, I don't think anyone cared that it was two years late.
        • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Jeremi (14640) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @04:06PM (#14999079) Homepage
          The only reason I read the comments on this story was to figure out what the heck Microsoft could have been doing all this time.


          I think maybe the Windows codebase has simply finally reached a level of complexity that renders it unmanagable by mortal humans. To quote an anonymous poster to the linked blog:


          Today's announcement is of course no surprise to anyone inside MS. The only surprise is that it was such a short delay announced.Basically we do not believe Vista will make January 2007 or even March 2007. Anyone with any access knows what a frankenstein's monster NT is on the inside. At some point there is a law of diminishing returns
          trying to do anything to it at all, it seems like that limit is being reached today. The release is pushed back because of bugs but fixing those bugs will create more bugs. It is just godawful to be honest.


          Assuming that is true, then probably the only way for Microsoft to move forward and still maintain backwards compatibility with old code is to do what Apple did: Ditch the OS, start fresh with a new one, and provide backwards compatibility with existing Windows applications by shipping the "legacy OS" as an included software application that runs in an emulator. Given the prevalence of VMWare-style technology these days, that should be quite doable; of course getting the new OS up to snuff might take a few years.

          • Assuming that is true, then probably the only way for Microsoft to move forward and still maintain backwards compatibility with old code is to do what Apple did: Ditch the OS, start fresh with a new one...

            Ah ha! Microsoft will finally be forced to embrace Wine!

      • by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:45PM (#14998709) Homepage Journal
        There was a point a few years ago where MS had the choice-- build a modular architecture similar to WinCE & Linux. If one component was delayed, it wouldn't necessarily add to the delay of the core OS or other components.

        The other choice was to continue along the monolithic line, which means that the core OS is more likely to be delayed by a delay amongst the smaller components.

        Microsoft chose to continue along the monolithic path, because the modular path pushed out the deadline by a year.
        • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dioscaido (541037) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:50PM (#14999812)
          Actually, for the Vista development one aspect of a build verification has been to strictly monitor the interdependencies of each individual dlls/exe's. They've establishes a 'layering' scheme, where no component in layer X can take a dependency on a component in layer Y, where layer Y>X. The end goal is that one day they want to be able to draw lines between layers and consider these autonomous units that can be managed independently. So if you want to make a UI-less build of Vista (hypothetically), you could cut everything above and including the UI level and not be burned by finding all these command line utilities that assume they are running in a UI based shell.

          It's still a monolith system, but it's taking an interesting approach towards modularization.

    • by akaariai (921081)
      Microsoft failed at the big level. There isn't propably easily identifiable low to middle level managers who failed their job. In these cases the blame goes to the upper level, should I say the greatest common denominator. The same goes in war and in politics. It is not rare that high level leaders (generals and ministers) are forced to resign because somebody elses failure. Usually the failure is not directly their fault. In some cases it is hard to say that they had anything to do with the failure. Still
      • For example the current US president comes to mind. And the Abu Ghrabi scandal. Does somebody really think that there were just a handfull of low rank soldiers who did something wrong?

        That's probably a bad example because nobody above the rank of Staff Sergeant is being court martialled. I think it's ridiculous that the Colonel commanding only lost some points for promotion. There are two options: either she knew what was going on, or she didn't. If she did know, she should go to jail. But if she didn't

    • Here's the thing. It's not like setting a schedule is going to magically make something happen. Programs are written by programmers, they aren't willed into existence by Gantt charts, no matter what PMs think.

      Agreed; there exists in too many workplaces a fundamental disconnect between the people who actually develop the products and the people at the top. That fundamental disconnect is, indeed, middle management whose success depends either 1) on the performance of their underlings or 2) on their abilit

  • by zaguar (881743) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:56AM (#14997236)
    In other news, Steve Ballmer vowed to "fucking kill" all anonymous Microsoft employees.

    "I've done it before and I'll do it again," he said. "Anonymity has no place at Microsoft."

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:56AM (#14997237) Journal
    Yes, that rumbling noise in the background, faint at first, but growing louder with each passing moment... yes, soon enough you can tell that it is a crowd of people... they are chanting... what are they saying.... I TOLD YOU SO, I TOLD YOU SO, I TOLD YOU SO, I TOLD YOU SO, I TOLD YOU SO

    Joking aside, this shouldn't even be news (sorta) its as unexpected as a suicide bomber in the middle east somewhere. Lets see, the EU, Mass., other entire countries dumping MS, Korea, and the response from MS has been FUD and 'smoke and mirrors' for several years now. I think its time for MS to put up or shut up. They have promised to fix all the woes of Internet users for several years now... time they did some of that, or simply hide in their cubes eating humble pie, reading the news about their stock with FF.

    No, not a case of Linux fanboi, just observation. I'm rather tired of hearing how MS is going to fix this or that, and all they've fixed is prices in the past. On that issue, I'm rather happy with the way Open Source software is handling these issues, rather more up front about it, and trying to cobble together associations and software to battle the problems instead of promising the panacea of software at the mere cost of one arm and one leg per user.
  • by OpenSourced (323149) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:57AM (#14997239) Journal
    Who da'Punk is in fact the real enemy. He wants to end the bloat at Microsoft and convert it into a lean and mean machine of productivity. Imagine what options open source would have if people in Microsoft where devoted to create great software for the users, instead of pursuing their own petty concerns in the corporate ladder. If Who da'Punk and others like him had their way, Microsoft would be user-centric, but keeping the users always within the Microsoft universe. He's planning a world of happy slaves of Microsoft. Now we are all slaves, but at least not happy. In the unsatisfaction of slaves the seeds of change lay. If everybody was contented, the chances of breaking the Microsoft monopoly would be nil (on the other side, we'd be happier and have great software, but still slaves).

    So help him not. Cheer Balmer instead. He's our real ally in this fight.

    • by CdBee (742846)
      you suggest that people should value the politics of their software higher than the quality of it? So why has all Linux advertising/PR/etc concentrated on the quality of the code produced by the OSS model?

      If the OSS movement is right, Who da'punk is an irrelevance. If you're right, OSS is already doomed to failure.
      • by OpenSourced (323149) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:10AM (#14997278) Journal
        My point is that we are in a situation of monopoly that will always by its own nature restrict the choice of users to the monopoly universe. The only way of breaking that stranglehold is through the cracks in the monopoly. If those cracks are plastered there is no way out. Of course the quality of software is more important than politics, but I believe than the quality of anything in a monopoly culture will never be so good as the quality of that same thing in a culture of free competition. So is a matter of short-ter versus long-term quality, IMHO.

        • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:12AM (#14997424)
          There's nothing wrong with a monopoly if it really is the best choice as there's no anti-competitive things going on to make it a trust. (Monopolies can be fine; trusts are bad.) What you're suggesting is that if MS produces the best OS ever it will be bad for the consumer. What? That makes no sense unless your political idology is your number one factor in decision making for what software to use. I have no problem buying software if it's worth the cost of paying for it.

          If MS makes such a superior OS -- which I doubt, not because it's MS but because it's too dofficult for anyone to do at all -- either FOSS raises it's bar or it dies. That's not because MS is a monopoly. That would be because FOSS would not be able to survive in the free market.

          Look at OpenOffice.org. People compare it to MS Office and they say it's slow and bloated. Compared to MS Office. I'd challenge someone to find any application with more needless bloat than MS Office. For years the number one complaint about the entire Office line was that it was always bloatware. Now OOo comes along and bloat isn't a problem? I'm sorry, that's BS and we all know it. OOo is going nowhere until the codebase is cleaned up. The only reasons it's as popular as it is are because it's FOSS and because it's the only thing besides MS Office. As it stands now you decide if you want to pay for MS Office. If you don't, you get OOo. Not because OOo is better than MS Office (which should be why you choose any piece of software, right?) but simply because it's cheaper. This is like choosing GIMP over Photoshop. If you're a professional, you only do it when you lack the money to afford the real deal (which then suggests you're possibly not as professional as you think).

          Now look at Linux. People chose Linux because for what they want to do, the OS is actually better than other OSs. Look at Firefox. People chose that over IE because it's better. Hadly anybody used the old Mozilla Suite for exactly the same reasons that OOo rather sucks. The fact that Linux in particular costs so much less is rather irrlevant to the discussion. Now look at things like LAMP vs Windows/IIS/MS SQL/ASP. Again, choice has little to nothing to do with the lisencing costs. It's what solution you know better, and what you want to do with it.

  • in the meantime... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pliep (880962) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:58AM (#14997245) Homepage
    ... people will buy Vista anyway because they will see Microsoft ads on TV 4 times a day. Microsoft as a company may be rotten, Vista as a project may have failed, but still.
  • by AndrewStephens (815287) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:58AM (#14997246) Homepage
    ...that their stock options aren't going to be worth as much. The truth is that Microsoft has very good reasons to delay Vista, only some of which they control. Anyone who has installed the beta can see that it has a long way to go before it reaches release quality. Vista is a fairly big update to the Windows code base, and the fact that it is not stable or speedy enough yet for day-to-day use at this late stage must be a factor in their decision to put it back.
    Externally, Vista changes the driver model, and the hardware manufacturers seem to be lagging behind. There is no point releasing an OS if no one can use their graphics cards.
    Microsoft has a lot riding on Vista, the first desktop OS release since 2001. They will not have decided to slip lightly.
    • There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with the development process within MS that it has taken this long to discover that there are problems. It's difficult to know what has gone wrong, but it wouldn't be a surprise to discover that management infighting was the cause.
      • You know this is a perfect example of the follow-the-crowd-MS bashing that gets modded up.

        1. When MS delays, its because they are corrupt to the core, even though there is no indication of that. See your comment on management.
        2. If MS didn't delay and these issues were still outstanding, MS would get bashed. See your comment on how late in the development cycle this is being discovered. If you knew anything about a decent sized enterprise level piece of software you would have realized that it happens.
        3.
        • How is it that there's no indication that they are corrupt to the core when so many MS developers are saying that they are? I'm sure that some of them are fake but there's got to be some truth to it if someone's posting on the minimsft blog. Most of the comments suggest that it's MS's managment that make it really hard to actually get work done so it's not as much the developers' faults as it is managment.
        • First of all MS deserves bashing. They are a sleazy, unethical corporation run by slimy people. It's just a company for fucks sake, bash them all you like folks, it's not like a human being or anything.

          Anyway if you read the post you are replying to he was blaming the management. I just thought I would point out your straw man.
    • "At least Microsoft isn't shipping before Longhorn is ready" is besides the point. By now, it should be ready, and that is the point.
  • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:01AM (#14997254) Homepage
    Microsoft is filling some recently vacated positions. The time to send your resume is now.
    • The time to send your resume is now.

      I know you're saying this as a joke, but if you realize, many of those Microsoft workers are already sending their resumes ELSEWHERE. They f***ing want to leave. Microsoft is becoming another EA, specially when new workers get paid more than existing workers. So it's more convenient if you leave MS, get another job, and later (IF later) you decide to go back.

      IMHO, I'd rejoice the day Mini-MSFT became the Microsoft CEO. Of course, it will never happen.
  • by Elitist_Phoenix (808424) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:09AM (#14997272)
    There is one thing that will get Microsoft's employee's moral back up, a Chair-Throwing-Monkey-Dance! I'm sure they'll be able to find someone who can supply.
  • Where Future? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:17AM (#14997289) Journal
    So where is computing's future going to come from? All these years we've been giving MS monopoly rent for OS software in the belief that we were paying for an exciting future, and now the company that's been taking our money is going to give us another "ticking time-bomb of unstable code".

    After five years and more than a hundred billion dollars revenue from computer users, Microsoft will revamp Vista at the 11th hour to turn it into a little more than a skin on XP, which was little more than a skin on 2K.

    Almost all recent innovations in computing have come from organisations with orders of magnitude less revenue than MS. We are simply not getting value for money. This monopoly must be broken so competition and progress can resume. Formats, APIs, and communication protocols MUST be documented and opened to allow competitors a level playing field.

    Anything else will just perpetuate the current stagnant, inbred computing environment.

    • Re:Where Future? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by miffo.swe (547642)
      Nice to see that more people than i think todays computers are pretty dull, boring and lame excuses of a calculator. I have an Amiga 500 that still performs better in some areas than a brand spanking new PC with Windows on it. Thats just sad.

      Where are the interesting technologies? Computing has been standing pretty much still over the last 15 years. The only really interesting thing that has happened was the internet. The rest is just hardware speeds and such.

      Software just plain sucks today. Microsoft destr
      • Re:Where Future? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 2nd Post! (213333)
        Where are the interesting technologies?

        Probably lurking on Macs and Linux boxen.

        There have been some pretty neat things in the last three years in Macland:
        3d accelerated UI (not Avalon but Quartz)
        Advanced development libraries (not DirectX, but CoreImage/CoreVideo/CoreAudio/CoreData)
        Deeply integrated search (not Windows File Indexing, but Spotlight)
        Transparent networking (not UPNP, but Rendezvous/Bonjour)
        Wireless networking (built into every Mac since 2002 or so)
        UI enhancements (not Vista, but Aqua)
        Distribu
    • by g0at (135364)
      All these years we've been giving MS monopoly rent for OS software in the belief that we were paying for an exciting future

      Heh, speak for yourself!

      -b
  • Monopoly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MassEnergySpaceTime (957330) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:21AM (#14997295)
    If Microsoft didn't have a monopoly in the OS market, these management problems probably would have crippled the company and product by now.

    On the other hand, if they didn't have a monopoly, perhaps everyone would be focused on competing and improving their OS, and these problems would not come up.

  • by psbrogna (611644) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:54AM (#14997374)
    So 20+ years of "making money" is not a way to strategically guide the evolution of a large software project. It's a feedback loop that appears to lead to an evolutionary dead end.

    Another 5-10 years or so and we'll be able to compare & contrast with OSS- ie. letting developers and user community determine where a product goes...

    Don't get me wrong, I give MS lots of credit. I don't think PC's would be where they are today without them. It's gratifying to me though that the "good of the whole" can win over a 10yr lead and billions of dollars in "R&D" & marketing.

  • by Starker_Kull (896770) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:19AM (#14997438)
    From the article:

      "But even as some on the Mini-Microsoft blog wished for Maria Antoinette-style retribution, other employees defended the decision, if not the people who made it.

    "Yes, it's painful. Yes, it's embarrassing," wrote Robert Scoble, a company technical evangelist, on his Scobelizer blog. "But I'd rather have a slipped date than a cruddy product.""

    It would have been nice if they had this philosophy a couple of decades ago, rather than trying to transition to a "first in quality rather than first in marketplace" maxim now after all the messes they have institutionalized and all the good, innovative companies that followed the above maxim they have dispatched.
  • by Lumpish Scholar (17107) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:26AM (#14997456) Homepage Journal
    One of the comments [blogspot.com] is particularly interesting:
    Want to see Vista ship?

    Get rid of 90% of the Process that goes between writing the code and getting it checked in.... get rid of the process that has people working at 3AM on Sunday morning NOT to fix bugs, NOT to write features, NOT to make the product more stable, but only to move marbles from one coffee can to another coffee can....

    Because that's where all the time is going, and that's why people working on Vista are closing their doors and literally weeping in frustration at their desks.

    There's a continuum between "cowboy coders" and process paralysis. Sounds as if Microsoft has moved too far towards one of the extremes.
    • by Tarwn (458323) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:34AM (#14997476) Homepage
      Either that or the person responsible for that comment is one of the cowboy coders, for whom any non-coding time is seen as a waste (ie, testing, retesting, documentation, etc).
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:26PM (#14998919)
        I quit Microsoft (Windows division) in late 2005 after working there for many years. This was one of the best decisions of my life. I am posting this anonymously because I don't know where I stand with regard to NDAs, non-soliciting agreements etc... (all the crap they make you sign when you join and remind you of in your exit interview.)

        First, I can tell you exactly what the "process" the blog post is referring to -- it's not an issue of cowboy coders vs. reasonable process and management. Ask anyone who has worked on longhorn questions like: "how many VBLs are there anyway?" and "do you think quality gates have improved the codebase or not?" and (if they have anything to do with test) "what do you think of WTT?". Work spent to satisfy this process consumes way too much of the average developer's time and contributes little or nothing to the overall stability of the codebase.

        Next, I know several MS engineers who are on the fence about leaving after the longhorn deathmarch fisaco and the FY06 compensation package. All I have to say on this front is, again, leaving was one of the best moves I ever made. Not to drag Microsoft through the mud (though that's what slashdot is all about, right?) but I agree 100% with mini about the axe needing to fall on some very senior people. Senior management at MS is compensated extraordinarily well (GMs, VPs all make well over $500k/year total compensation). There are way too many of these people and not only do they not write code or contribute meaningfully to the product, they make the lives of the rank and file harder with their bullshit process ideas and beurocracy. Here's a crazy recipe for shipping longhorn: fire some of the windows leadership, give the rest of the windows management 0 bonus and use the money you saved to give real out-of-band raises to the best engineers in the company. When you give them the raises say something like: "We fucked up, we paid management way too much and have been neglecting our real #1 resource which is smart engineers". The brightest people I know work at Microsoft but if things don't change I suspect I won't be saying this for long.

        • by swb (14022) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:06PM (#15000024)
          They'll never do the out-of-band raises. Microsoft is too corporate and the corporate class system will not tolerate pay and benefits systems that allow "workers" to be paid more than "management." Ever. Even for one FY cycle.

          It only works that way at tech companies run by the engineers that started them, and then only temporarily, until either enough management types are brought in from the outside or until the engineers with stock options and influence decide its not any fun anymore and leave. The latter is a real death knell, since those original engineers are the ones to whom the management guys owe *their* jobs to and it's hard for management to push the corporate class system when their are engineers still there who have both the proven track record and the financial resources to call bullshit on them.

          But when it does reach that point, it becomes Just Another Corporation where the corporate class system gets re-introduced and the company is ultimately run by its marketing arm like any other corporation, hoping that nobody sees the mediocrity through the bullshit.

          I just wonder how long it will take Google to get like that, or if they have discovered some way around it.
  • by Danathar (267989) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:27AM (#14997458) Journal
    Let's be honest here...as long as windows maintains it's current market share it does not matter.

    If you work in a windows shop, and run into your CIO or IT head cheese ask this simple question "What would have to happen for you to SERIOUSLY consider dumping windows for some other desktop OS platform"

    Chances are they will just give you a blank stare. That alone should tell you that ANY delay in the next version of windows will have ZERO effect on Microsoft's market.
  • Well, why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hey! (33014) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:40AM (#14997492) Homepage Journal
    Look, kicking Ballmer and a few other people just below him upstairs, sideways or out couldn't cause any more turmoil in these critically wounded projects. And the projects that are working fine would no doubt continue fine.

    The big problem is that this would be tantamount to an admission of weakness. It would cause a short term dip in the stock price, and more seriously create the impression of a chink in the armor.

    Unless... They appointed somebody in Ballmer's place who would immediately wipe away the memory of all that. And boy, do I have a candidate for them. Wait for it... It's...

    Jean-Louis Gasee.

    Why?

    (1) He's soave. He'd be a palate cleansing draught of Perrier to Ballmer's greasy bag of deep fried pork rinds and Gates's Technicolor Pop Rocks persona.

    (2) He has the respect of engineers. He's cool. The proof? One word: BeOS. It would help recruiting of talent. The Linux snobs wouldn't have anybody in the MS corner office who was a convenient joke.

    (3) He's European. French (duh). I mean, put yourself in the EU's shoes. An American monopoly is throwing it's weight around, and you've seen the frightening videos of its leader's nearly indescribable antics rallying the troops. How could this not evoke the nightmare of torchlit nighttime rallies and different supreme leader's rants?

    Of course, his actual track record as a businessman is, uh, mixed. He had trouble getting product out as the head of the Mac development. He missed his opportunity to sell an 80 million dollar company to Apple for 200 million, and ended up selling it to Palm for 11 million . But he could credibly show up for work in jeans, a turtleneck and gold ear stud -- who could put a price on that? Sandwiching him between the board on one hand and carefully senior managers on the other, this could be a major win.

  • by ynotds (318243) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:45AM (#14997497) Homepage Journal
    As much as I would be happier to just ignore it, there is something about the increasing Longhorn hysteria that is reminiscent of the depths Apple slid into in the mid-90s.

    There were a succession of enticing technology demos promoted as seeds of totally new architectures, more than a couple of which almost survived deployment then in the process of their ultimate abandonment burnt many fans.

    But the ask was always too big, just the same as it has always been with every other monolithic attempt at software over engineering.

    The one thing we can count on from Microsoft is that they will eventually bring out something which they will tell us is Longhorn. They are too political to contemplate honest abandonment. But all they will ever deliver will be cherry picked features grafted onto their already long suffering underlying architcture.
    (continues) [slashdot.org]

    The thing that makes this even wierder is that the betas of XP made it actually look like they might have been getting somewhere, but this time around even the betas are apparently off putting.

    I'm relying here on reports from otherwise bright people who actually try to use the stuff, as the weekend provided almost the only excuse I've had to curse M$ software to its face in years. Normally I can just stick with the line which has done almost everything I've asked of it since 1984, but now I guess I might have to revert to evangelising with that client before I'm forced to walk away.
  • by Kaptain_Korolev (848551) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:08AM (#14997552)
    From my own experience the following usually happens.

    The development cycle usually consists of sitting in meetings while the architects and project managers hmmm and hah over what features to scope and de-scope for this particular release. This usually achieves nothing, at the very last minute they'll tell us to design something which has a set of features that don't interact well and require others that have been de-scoped. We now have exactly one week to code and module test the thing.

    After many late nights the code is finished and the next few weeks are frought with Integration nightmares that the managers failed to take account of in their initial high level design. This isn't usually as bad as it should be as those of us doing the actual coding can often identify issues at the implementation stage and fix them there. When we tell the managers about this it usually offends them.

    Integration complete, there is now about 5% of the work left to do in tidying up loose ends and streamlining code. The powers that be deem this to be un-necessary and my name appears on the Gantt chart of another project. Because I didn't get a chance to complete this final 5% of the work I will probably face a Bugzilla email deluge in the next month.

    The answer, short development cycles, Extreme programming, unified process etc.>

    Design, code, test and integrate in 3 -4 week cycles. Design decisions can't be drawn out and must be made quickly, coding and testing is done in manageable amounts and integration no longer presents a nightmare. Code is good the first time around for the small number of features implemented in that cycle, and far less buggy.

    Unfortunately people are too stuck in their ways to change.

  • Terminate? (Score:5, Funny)

    by dascandy (869781) <dascandy@gmail.com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:08AM (#14997554)
    some Microsoft employees are calling for the termination of several top managers

    Doesn't that qualify as a death threat?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:18AM (#14997580)
    Posting anonymously - we're seeing many of these issues at my employer, and I'd rather keep any tracability out of this, as many people are working very hard to find a way through

    There have been huge numbers of rather fatuous comments of the "GANTT chart meets reality" type. My feeling is that these must have been written by people who simply have no understanding of the issues involved in updating a huge existing codebase so that it works to a commercial level of quality and retains backward compatibility with most of what is out there.

    It's almost unheard of to find a large mature codebase which is particularly clean. What would have started out as a clean architecture gets pulled out of shape with bug fixes, new features, support for new architectures and so on over time. In particular, many fixes are done in a 'quick and dirty' fashion because there's a need to correct a critical security flaw now, so a quick fix is preferred to a considered refactoring of the relevant code.

    Now, the GANTT chart bit isn't so bad: PM asks the developers, who (usually, anyway!) know their codebases well, to say how long it will take to develop a particular feature, and what the dependencies will be. Most people actually get this part somewhere about right. They write their code, unit test it and put it into an integration build. Everything seems fine.

    Where things start to go wrong is where you introduce the next level of testing: beta testing out with customers. The messy codebase starts to bite you hard, with obscure bugs which turn out to be due to the presence of some fix which is essential to another area. Fixing the fix turns out to have ramifications elsewhere, and the whole thing can slide out of control quickly.

    My guess is that this is where Microsoft is with Vista: they have 99.9% of everything working very well,but there's 0.1% which is a mess, but which is essential to having the stability needed to launch. Problem is that getting the 0.1% right is actually a huge effort, with unknown impacts across the whole codebase.

    You can't even really blame the managers for letting the codebase get into such a mess. The issue is an accumulation of short-term fixes, none of which is, in and of itself, a problem, but when you have thousands of these hacks, maintenance becmes a nightmare. trouble is that the managers and developers who allowed this to happen were merely responding to direction from on high (e.g. "fixing security issues is now our highest priority - I want to see our response time down as low as possible"), which makes considered refactoring impossible.

    • by _xeno_ (155264) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:29PM (#14998200) Homepage Journal

      This is one of the things that's nice about open source (and really freaking annoying at the same time) - you can just decide to forget about backwards compatibility and go ahead and break old stuff. Since the source is open, someone can fix old programs to match the new API.

      I'm sure most people here has had some experience with Mozilla deciding to alter some bit of the codebase to make it cleaner and it breaking some extension. It's "OK" because most of the extensions are open source, and it's possible to fix them to match the new API.

      Likewise, I'm currently working with an open source project where I work (gonna keep this abstract enough so I don't need to be AC :)), and had to jump to the current nightly builds due to needed functionality. Unfortunately, the new version breaks backwards compatibility with the old stable version. Fortuantely, I have all the source code, so I was able to upgrade my plugin to work with the new APIs.

      The source code is also invaluable due to the absolutely cruddy API documentation that comes with the project, but I've had similar problems with closed source products ("I wonder why all the examples use C-style comments in XML? And what they call XQuery appears to be something they made up on their own?"), but at least with the open source project I can work my way through it and directly contact the developers if I need to.

      Unfortunately, this only works in the open source world when everything is open source. When Mozilla 1.0 rolled out, they had changed some of the APIs since the Mozilla 0.9.x builds, which broke some closed source plugins. One plugin in particular (the Adobe SVG viewer plugin) was never updated to support the new API. Of course, with native SVG support, that's really irrelevant now, but it was annoying back when it happened.

  • pressure much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@SLACK ... com minus distro> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:57AM (#14997682) Homepage
    I think MSFT management is just afraid cuz of all the build up for Vista that if it goes out the door and is borked then they'll seriously loose mindshare.

    I'm hoping [as an individual fed up with windows] that Vista is a flop. I'd love to hear about 0-day exploits and the like. Frankly I'm tired of rampant vendor lockin, bloaty OSes and inferior technology.

    Like just recently I had to buy a copy of Word for a publishing deal. Cost me $286 CDN. What does that give me? A word processor that only runs in Windows and only edits Word files. The latter bit doesn't sound so bad until you realize the format is not properly documented anywhere and essentially requires me to keep using Windows and Word to work with the files.

    Whereas, in the "real world", I can build my own Linux distro [e.g. gentoo] for free, install OpenOffice for free and be editting documents in no time flat. Then I can move those documents to my BSD or Windows machines if I want. Heck, I can even hack the document [ala unzip and sed] if I want to do something not natively supported by OO directly [e.g. substituting all fonts in the document instantly].

    So on Vista launch-eve I'll drink a pint in hopes that their initial release is a total flop. :-)
  • by penguin-collective (932038) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @10:11AM (#14997721)
    I think for many years, many Microsoft employees have assumed that they are walking on water because, after all, how could they not be, given the financial success of the company.

    But I think reality is catching up with the company: Microsoft doesn't walk on water technically, they are producing roughly the same kind of software today as other big software vendors (and that's actually an improvement over where they were a few years ago).

    Microsoft is turning more and more into the IBM of 20 years ago, and that means that they are getting technically better than they used to be, and financially less successful. Welcome to reality.
  • Great Comment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Blahbooboo3 (874492) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @10:39AM (#14997811)
    This was a very interesting comment on the blog site:

    "
    The migration to Vista will be a passive one, as someone else previously mentioned; appearing on new computers bought by companies.

    The same for home users; a lot of people do not know enough to figure out what hardware upgrades they need ; so again, it will appear on new computers.

    Is this what Windows has become? An upgrade no one wants, forced upon them because the new hardware they're buying doesn't support anything less?

    Compare this to OS X, where people fall all over themselves trying to get the newest version running on their old hardware because there's actual value in the new features.

    So Vista has its guts ripped out, slips, and we wait another 5 years for a potentially insipring version of Windows, meanwhile Apple ships another 3 updates to OS X.

    I hope to God Office 12 steps up and kicks some ass. "
  • revolt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jhackworth (958910) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @10:47AM (#14997839)
    Uh, any chance this has to do with the fact that Microsoft began expensing stock options - http://news.com.com/Microsoft+to+award+stock,+nix+ options/2100-1014_3-1023840.html [com.com]

    - or that employees are pissed about the review system or lack of pay increases over the last 3 years - http://www.washtech.org/news/industry/display.php? ID_Content=5041 [washtech.org]?

    Until the late 90's, an engineer could work at Microsoft for 10-15 years and retire. That made them a lot more willing to tolerate constant death marches and ridiculously unrealistic product schedules. I suspect the current crop of engineers realized that weren't going to become billionaires anytime soon and weren't willing to make the same sacrifices. This is probably not the last we'll see of this sort of thing from Microsoft.

    Upper management is certainly hard at work trying to figure out how to get Indian and Chinese developers working on Vienna.
  • by Dracos (107777) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @11:31AM (#14997978)

    I spent 2 hours reading that thread, and the one thing that dropped my jaw was the post claiming that MS has been unable to stave off six 6-digit corporate desktop migrations.

    *blink*

    The only one I've heard about is IBM: that's 330,000 desktops. It's more than likely one of the six. This sounds to me like the Fortune 500 is getting really tired of the lack of security, empty promises, endless delays, absurd licensing costs... and has gotten wise to the FUD.

    They know that if Apple can put OSX 10.5 on shelves in November, that will start the snowball rolling, and the avalanche is coming.

    Sure, when Vista does ship (too late), there will be a huge marketing campaign for it. It seems though that they don't even know how to make a compelling pitch to customers, business or retail. Even with a January launch (I'm not holding my breath), the advertising will start in November, and those campaigns will need to be conceptualized in the next few weeks, if that hasn't started already.

    MS has a disaster on its hands that no one seems to want, and they don't know how to sell it. Meanwhile, their enemies (aka the rest of the industry) are circling the bloated prey, waiting for MS to collapse under its own weight before they move in for the kill.

    • "It seems though that they don't even know how to make a compelling pitch to customers, business or retail."

      It's hard to make a compelling pitch when there's nothing compelling about your product. Windows 95, for example, pretty much sold itself: it was a huge upgrade over 3.1. XP over 95 was a tougher sell but provided enough reasons to upgrade in the long run. Vista over XP? 'Look at these fancy icons! They're 3D! Vista gives you a whole extra dimension than XP!'

      Yeah, right.

      Microsoft lost it years ago, th
  • by Sj0 (472011) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:16PM (#14998151) Homepage Journal
    It's interesting to watch the comments as they unfold in the blog entry. Some of them are very frantic. "The company is going down! Abort! Abort! Abandon ship now!!" -- This from a company which has no real competition.

    To be honest, I don't see what they're so upset about. It's done when it's done.
  • by Thagg (9904) <thadbeier@gmail.com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:38PM (#14998445) Journal
    There is a very interesting aspect of delay, that is working to Microsoft's favor in this case.

    In another field, note the most recently finished highway project in your local area. You might (if you were paying attention) remember the years of political turmoil before it started, the endless planning meetings, the politician promises. Then, you saw the signs go up, saying things like "This exit will be closed from Nov 11 2003 to Jun 1 2005" or something, and it seemed like forever. A date that far in the future is just a hell of a long time away.

    But, note how you feel about the project today? The inconvenience of waiting are just completely gone. You've got a nice new freeway, and you get from here to there without much problem. In a couple of months it seems like it has always been there. All the hair-pulling and outrage that you felt when the finish date was first posted just seems so trivial now.

    Anyway, that's the way it works for me.

    Vista will be the same in a lot of ways. Microsoft, for better or for worse (mostly worse) is just as much of a monopoly as the Department of Public Works. They'll finish the goddamn highway on their own schedule, and they'll do an adequate job of it, and people will just live with it. And the very sad thing is, they'll like it.

    Thad Beier
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:10PM (#14998561)
    I found the following post (on the MS Blog comments) by someone who is probably a MS employee.

    ----snip-------
    Talk around the vending machines in legal is that the delay has nothing to do with coding, slipped schedules or anything else. That's why very few heads will actually roll and most will simply shuffle positions. Actual reasons have to do with no product, NONE, shipping until after the mess with the EU is cleaned up. From what I've heard so far, if there are further major delays with EU that can't be solved by set-asides and scholarships, then expect another major delay beyond what has already been announced. At 25-40% annual compounded growth rates for Linux servers, the last thing that's going to happen is for the EU to be able to do what US-Justice failed to do, which is force disclosure of MS server protocols so competitors can copy MS's IP and gain market share in the market segment on MS's dime. Samba has never been 100% compatible and that's the way its going to stay, come hell or high water. Regardless of how much time/delay it takes, Samba and Vista will never be as interoperable as Samba is with PDC, AD, AS currently. If it takes another 6 month delay, another 9 months, whatever. Eventually EU will capitulate whether Commerce and the WTO has to step in or not. Server space market share has either reached a tipping point, or already passed a tipping point depending on which internal study you read. Whichever study you read/believe, make sure its one of the ones that takes into account free installs of their versions of AS/ES, such as Cent/OS. According to those studies, the server space has already passed the tipping point, that's why we're seeing what's happening with Mass/ODF/XML, and some of the large desktop migrations that have been documented internally. And remember, any large migrations you get a whiff of, you know where to report them, get details and do it. A single 6 digit desktop migration has repercussions far and wide on many other customers and partners (and media), and we are staring at over a dozen of them and have been unsuccessful in turning any of them around so far.

    So unless anything settles with the EU in the coming months, expect further delays regardless of what they are blamed on.
    --------snip--------------
  • Microspeak? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stiletto (12066) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:12PM (#14998575)
    From the article:
    With the convergence of high-tech media, this holiday season would have been an explosive nodal point to get Vista out for a compounded effect.

    This is why MS can't seem to get it done. They have people working there who ACTUALLY talk like this! I mean, seriously, can anyone translate that sentence into English, please?
  • Why Do They Care? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:24PM (#14998612)
    Microsoft Employees are not happy with the double delay of Windows and Office being pushed back into 2007.

    Why do they care about this? Is it their own bonus in jeopardy because the product didn't ship by a certain drop-dead date?

    Whether Microsoft continues to sell old Office, or new Office, people are still buying Office. Whether they're selling XP or Vista, they're still selling a Microsoft OS onto the same number of computers.

    WHY DO THEY CARE? THEY'RE STILL GETTING PAID THE SAME AS BEFORE!

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