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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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  • 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:Shareholders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pedantic bore (740196) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:52AM (#14997231)
    How exactly are the shareholders going to be pleased?

    Axing senior management isn't going to get Vista out the door any faster -- probably a lot slower because whoever comes it to pick up the pieces is going to have a hell of a job. It might make Windows 2021 (or whatever they're calling Vista 1.1) ship quicker but in the short run, it'll be chaos. Shareholders, for the most part, don't care about the long run -- they care about now.

  • 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.
  • Who cares? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:58AM (#14997247)

    The report references a blog by Who da'Punk, an anonymous Microsoft employee...

    Wow, the dude on the Mini-Microsoft blog [blogspot.com], which is notoriously anti-Microsoft, posts something anti-Microsoft?

    That's about as earth-shattering as Slashdot posting this recent string [slashdot.org] of "Microsoft Sucks, Vista Sucks" articles.

  • by CdBee (742846) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:01AM (#14997253)
    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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:01AM (#14997255)
    People buy Vista because the manufacturer of their new computer decided to pre-install it.
    Consumers are not actively making an OS choice. They take what is fed to them.
  • 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.

  • Where Future? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [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.

  • by MarkByers (770551) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:23AM (#14997298) Homepage Journal
    There will be plenty of people that are tired XP and its constant security problems by now. They will upgrade the day Vista is out, thinking it will be the solution to all their problems. The advertising for Vista will be *very good*. You can bet on that.

    Microsoft will make sure that people using XP will not be able to easily communicate with the new applications on Vista. Companies will be scared of having some computers running XP and newer ones running Vista. Companies loving standardising things.

    People will upgrade before too long. If not voluntarily, they will be forced to.

    The only thing Microsoft need to do to almost guarantee success is to get the thing released soon before Mac + Linux start getting too popular!
  • by geoff lane (93738) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:24AM (#14997302)
    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.
  • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:33AM (#14997318) Homepage
    Even MS employees know they can't sell their crap, they have to force it down peoples throats or it won't sell.

    Nonsense, people want Windows. If Dell went 100% Linux tomorrow their sales would drop to near zero and people would buy Gateways, Compaqs, etc.

    Also, Apple's Mac OS X has been a far better alternative for regular users than Linux for several years now yet nearly everyone sticks with Windows.

    I own a Mac, my PC dual boots Windows and Linux, but I realize I am part of a very small minority. Most people don't want Mac OS X or Linux. That is reality, it may change over time but that it the state of things at the moment.
  • by akaariai (921081) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:45AM (#14997352)
    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 they have the responsibility. There are ofcourse a lot of situations where things go exactly the opposite way. 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? So, if there is some middle level managers fired, it is because they need scape goats, not because they are directly responsible anymore than the rest of the middle level managers.
  • 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.

  • Re:Shareholders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:02AM (#14997393) Homepage Journal
    Axing senior management isn't going to get Vista out the door any faster -- probably a lot slower

    It depends on why the Vista project is in turmoil, doesn't it?

    I can think of several situations that, if they held, would be counterexamples.

    (1) The Captain Kirk school managers: Ignore enginering's time estimates because you don't want to believe them and have unwavering faith in your personal charisma's power to alter reality. Also known as the "assume we had a can-opener" manager.

    (2)The "turn-around" style of mamagement: When a manager comes in and turns a situation around, he's a strong manager. Therefore a manager that turns his company around frequently must be stronger than one who turns the company around once.

    (3) The "kill the messenger" style of management: On the theory that "no news is good news", turn every instance in which bad news has to be brought up into a game of "beard the lion". Subtypes include "If everyone keeps tap dancing hard enough, maybe nobody will notice and things will sort themselves out" theorists.

    (4) The "I'm manager because I can everybody's job better than they could" manager. Hardly bears description. On the flip side, if you're honest with yourself, you'll admit that as an engineer, deep in your heart of hearts, this is you. The obviously awesom weapons of the engineering paradigm can slay any dragon. Management? Pfft. You just take the pot of potential objectives on one hand, and the pot of resources and capabilities you have on the other, build a set of alternative frameworks connecting them, crunch the numbers and pick the best.

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

    by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblomNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:05AM (#14997404) Homepage Journal
    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 destroyed the software market because they know the second software is freed from the OS their game is over. If software was platform independant it wouldnt matter if your OS was from the late 60 or the latest brand spanking new hardware platform and OS.

    That would make development take off again.
  • 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.

  • by ricardo_nz (917753) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:13AM (#14997425) Journal
    I find it hard to believe the guy who wrote this actually works on windows, MS has very solid reasons for the delay and anyone working on it would know this. The guy probably wanted some publicity for his site or just wanted to bad mouth MS. Personally, I welcome the delays - I don't have the chance to waste my money on the software for another few months.
  • by Tim Browse (9263) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:15AM (#14997433)
    Another irritating tendency (particularly among long-time Mac users*) is to call the main box the 'hard drive'.

    * See if you can work out why :-)

  • 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 Crash Culligan (227354) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:20AM (#14997441) Journal
    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 ability to spread bullshit. However...

    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.

    The only problem? You oversimplify. There are a bunch of ways realistic-sounding time estimates fly off the rails. They fall into a handful of categories. And before someone decides to pick nits: yes, most of these are management's fault, but no, this isn't a complete list:

    1. Management intentionally understated the complexity or scope of the task
      1. Management needed to set goals that made them look good to senior management
      2. Management needed to parrot goals that Marketing already published or die
    2. Management accidentally underestimated the complexity or scope of the task
      1. Developers or Management didn't take into account some of the requirements when making estimates
      2. Developers intentionally understated the complexity or scope of the task to look good to management (hey, it's been known to happen too)
      3. Developers accidentally underestimated the complexity or scope of the task
      4. Developers understood the complexity and scope of the task, but didn't have the skills to deliver.
      5. Feature Creep (This is Microsoft. 'Nuff said.)
    3. Management accurately predicted the complexity of the task, but "something came up"
      1. Talented developers left, taking with them necessary skills which were unique
      2. Management forgot to consider that people might be needed on other tasks
      3. Problems within the development environment
      4. Coffee Shortage
      5. Sick days, pregnancy, and other potentially life-ending events
      6. The Second Coming
    The simple reason that I hate Gantt charts as the be-all and end-all of a project schedule is that even on the most carefully controlled project, there are always speed-ups and slow-downs that can throw the most enlightened of schedules into a cocked hat ...and then sit on it. Not to say it shouldn't be attempted, but advertising release dates based on them should be a punishable offense (and in this case, it might well be).
  • 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.
  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:29AM (#14997461)
    MiniMSFT has been publicly trashing his own company for years now, yet doesn't have the guts to do one of the following:
    A. QUIT
    B. Reveal who he is, what his job is, etc. We know that he doesn't work for Windows or Office, since when he trashes those groups' efforts he does it in a way to exclude himself from the criticism. So just who the hell is he? Are his insights worth a damn?
    C. Try to change the company from the inside rather than anonymously trashing it from the outside. Doing the former would require that he attach his name to his complaints (not publicly, but internally), but he clearly lacks the guts to do it.

    The guy is an ass, pure and simple.
    Oh, and it's well known that many of the posts to his blog aren't MS employees but are anti-MS haters posing as such.
  • 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 BeerCat (685972) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:46AM (#14997500) Homepage
    Vista should have been either released much sooner or it should have been a revolutionary change as far as operating systems go.

    They wanted both, but got neither. Vista is turning in to MicroSoft's Copeland [highbeam.com] ( meant to be out in about 1994, but finally abandoned in 1996.)

    So who's OS will MS end up buying?
  • Re:Where Future? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:48AM (#14997505)
    You could always program in, you know, Java? Or Python? Or Ruby? Oh no, you can't, because then you can't carry on your holier then thou diatribe...
  • 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.

  • Re:Where Future? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:09AM (#14997556) Journal
    I was just paying them for an operating system.

    No, you weren't. If you'd bought an operating system, you'd be able to keep it and put it into other computers. You'd be able to customise it to work the way you want to. You'd be able to update the bits that don't work the way you want, when you want. You'd be able look under the hood and learn how it works. It would be YOURS to do with as you saw fit.

    What you have is an instance, a snapshot of somebody else's development cycle. It's locked to the hardware, so it'll die when the electronics does, and you'll have to pay for it all over again. They'll grudgingly fix the most dangerous flaws when THEY feel like it, not when you're being hurt by them. It's not your operating system, it's theirs. And don't you ever forget it.

    The entire computer industry has been stifled for years. We need competition, and we need it badly.

  • 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.

  • pressure much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> 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. :-)
  • Re:Where Future? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CCFreak2K (930973) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @10:04AM (#14997704) Homepage Journal
    I'm no programmer. I'm no insider. I'm just a jumble power user. What I CAN say is that Windows as a dominant OS has brought us one thing: consistency. With Windows, you pretty much have one code base, one API, etc. With Linux, you have the Linux kernel in common. Everything else is up to chance. Most big software packages (IIRC) have multiple versions for different distros of Linux, whereas with Windows, it's just one base: win32.

    I'm not bashing Linux (I use it all the time), nor am I praising Windows. I'm just offering up another side to this.
  • by naelurec (552384) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @10:05AM (#14997707) Homepage
    The day linux takes 15% of the desktop market, you'll see microsoft scrambling to actually turn windows into a good OS.

    s/turn/make/
    s/into/look like/

    Reference: Internet Explorer 7. Their solution was to change up the interface as a priority. The actual rendering of web pages is still far inferior to all other modern browsers.

    Repeat after me: With Microsoft, it has never been about making a good product. It has been about making a product that is good enough to generate revenue, even if it is by force.

    The funny part about this is Vista (in its original design) might have actually been about making a good product and taking computing to the next level. However, it is apparent that the marketing-centric Microsoft management style is unable to innovate enough to make this happen and as a result, Vista (when released) will bring very little to the table (not that this matters).
  • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @10:14AM (#14997729)
    "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.
  • 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 GoofyBoy (44399) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @10:53AM (#14997856) Journal
    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. If it was Linus had announced and then slipped a released date, MS would still get bashed. "Oh, better than M$ that sends out buggy code that we all suffer for. Delaying takes guts and is the right thing to do for all of mankind."

    What I don't think people realize is that comments like this doesn't attack MS, the corporation. It attacks MS, the developers. "Your programming sucks!"

    I don't work for MS but as a professional computer-programmer, I would never say anything about anyone else's program/work (like scheduling) that I haven't seen first-hand. If I did, it would say more about me than say anything about the program.
  • by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:02PM (#14998092)
    "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, the delays and removal of features from Vista are just making it a laughing stock.
  • 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 Da_Biz (267075) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:17PM (#14998152)
    Hate to say this, but I expect more from Slashdot moderation than for this article to be considered 'insightful.'

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man [wikipedia.org]
  • 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.

  • by IANAAC (692242) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:30PM (#14998204)
    ... They will upgrade the day Vista is out, thinking it will be the solution to all their problems. The advertising for Vista will be *very good*. You can bet on that.

    That may be, but most Windows users I know have never, ever installed Windows - any version - on their machine. For Vista to be a retail success, it has to be a flawless install. Have you actually tried installed XP (retail version, Pro or Home) on a machine? Unless you have all the drivers handy, it's a nightmare.

    People keep saying it's all about easy installs, but the truth is, not many people have actually done an install from a retail box. What they have done is a restore from a ghost image, drivers already in place. An entirely diferent thing.

  • Re: Bad Engineers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@gmSTRAWail.com minus berry> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:58PM (#14998295) Homepage Journal

    What is a good scenario, but is destroyed when you put money on the equation. On the reality, engeneers get underpaid, management get lots of money. So, many engeneers want to go into management.

    That is also a reason to companies should pay the engeneers well.

  • by yabos (719499) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:17PM (#14998371)
    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.
  • 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
  • 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!

  • 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.
  • by cerberusss (660701) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:51PM (#14998739) Homepage Journal
    C. Try to change the company from the inside [...]

    That's a recipe for a burnout.

  • by pherthyl (445706) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:58PM (#14998771)
    Since when does a chair go SPLAT?
  • by frogstar_robot (926792) <frogstar_robot@yahoo.com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:09PM (#14998841)

    So...the execs want to push a product back to 'get it right', but the employees themselves now wish to just throw it into production, quality be damned

    I'm no fan of MS either but I think that statement unfair to their developers at least. I bet quite a few of them are frustrated because factors outside of their control often means they have to build things that suck. Like most of us, I think they want to make things that are cool, work well, and announce to the world how clever they are. It certainly has worked in Google's favor and led to the infamous chair-throwing.

    Middle management types especially forget that the really talented ones aren't motivated solely by money. And MS these days seems to be infested with them. If any of their developers are wanting to just "throw it out there and quality be damned" then it is fatigue and despair talking. MS has plenty of good people working for them. Good people take pride in their work. The problem seems to be that MS also has an aristocracy of parasitic middle managers or maybe just a corp of yes-men at the very top. Whatever it is, those good developers don't have good leadership.

  • Re:Shareholders (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:09PM (#14998842)
    Axing senior management isn't going to get Vista out the door any faster -- probably a lot slower because whoever comes it to pick up the pieces is going to have a hell of a job

    Actually the mini-microsoft blog has brought this up before. You cannot ax senior management because it doesn't get a product out the door faster. Products aren't shipping because management has created a quagmire situation that hardly anyone can be productive. This creates a stalemate situation where managers can sit safely getting nothing done as they currently are. By removing the saftey net you basically light a fire under the ass of management to actually get something done.

    Now there are two ways you can take that. You can stick a gun to everyones head and pull the trigger like a wanton maniac, OR you can use it to your advantage. Instead of managers making stupid decisions like porting the entire OS to .Net (which is sure to push a product release back 2 years), they may decide to port some of the system to .Net (a sane decision). Instead of being content with the red-tape system where no one can get anything done, they start gutting the tape so that people can be productive again, ship products, and no one gets fired.

    In all honesty any shareholder that is planning on hanging on to MS stock for more than a couple years really needs to look at the big picture here. MS is taking WAAY too long to release mediochre products considering it is financially overflowing and has a considerable ammount of manpower. Gates and Balmer are not fixing things and MS is going to spiral into decline unless the shareholders start taking action so their stocks are worth something a few years from now - or are even going to have a chance of growing.
  • by aauu (46157) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:32PM (#14998947) Homepage
    Read Mythical Man-Month. MS is the new IBM. I am betting that Apple will take over the market. After Vista ships Apple will 10 years to take over the market before Microsoft gives away it's last version. Office will move to the web, but that's Google's sandbox.
  • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:44PM (#14998995) Homepage
    I've had a couple of bosses who are similar to Steve in many respects.

    They get very upset if you don't live up to their standards, and of course virtually nobody does, and so meetings are tense, nasty affairs.

    The problem is that I think it takes that type of person to produce truly great products. Producing great products is tough, and mediocrity is easy. Steve Jobs doesn't tolerate mediocrity in any form, even though mediocrity is what most Americans are trained to accept.

    I wouldn't enjoy being in on his staff meetings, and I wouldn't enjoy being reamed by him when I did something wrong. But I don't work for the man, and all I can say is that he is responsible for more brilliant products, from the PowerBook to the iPod to Final Cut Pro and MacOS X than anyone else I know of.

    I think you can admire Steve and what he's created without wanting to work for him :-).

    D
  • I suppose that you have become accustomed to thinking that you are God. If you can't find it on a map, it is none of your business.

    More Iraqis die now that the U.S. is in charge than died when Saddam was in charge. Who is the greater destructive force?
  • by Skreems (598317) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @05:25PM (#14999346) Homepage
    The thing that Linux has over Microsoft is a shift in accountability. Microsoft has the attitude that if any six-year-old broken as hell 3rd party product doesn't work on the newest Windows, their customers aren't going to upgrade. And they may be right, at that. But this leads to whole DIVISIONS of programmers writing bits into the operating system that detect if the application in question is Defunct Spreadsheet Product version 0.55 alpha, and hacking the registry to work in the old (and quite broken) way that the program expected when it was written back in 1997. Microsoft holds itself responsible for busted 3rd party applications. No such thing exists in open source, that I'm aware of. If the Linux kernel is behaving incorrectly, and fixing it breaks a 3rd party application, the fix gets made and nobody looks back. It's up to the app developer to make it work with the new system. This means that old applications on Linux aren't guaranteed to "just work" for decades to come, which might slow adoption by some businesses that don't want to worry about such things, but it also means they're not tied to being backwards compatible forever. The cost of that compatibility in Windows is huge, and affects all these things like security, filesystems, etc.
  • Re:Well, why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:05PM (#14999862) Journal
    Truth to tell, Gaseé did a damn fine job at Apple. He also came up with some very fine work at Be. Too bad MS decided to strangle BeOS in the cradle with their illegal threats against PC manufacturers who showed an interest in offering it on their systems.

    -jcr
  • by penguin-collective (932038) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:03PM (#15000016)
    Programs are written by programmers, they aren't willed into existence by Gantt charts, no matter what PMs think.

    Contrary to what you may think, what managers do actually matters for the quality and timeliness of a project; bad management results in much longer development times and much lower quality than good management. Of course, even if the management was perfect, the managers still estimated the wrong release dates, which is also their fault. Vista has an additional problem in that it's not only delayed again and again, it also keeps losing features compared to what was announced.

    And there is little excuse for any of that at Microsoft; both OS X and Linux already ship right now pretty much all the features that were originally announced for Vista (and then some!), those features were developed in less time than Microsoft had and with far less resources.
  • 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 CTachyon (412849) <chronos@@@chronos-tachyon...net> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @11:51PM (#15000502) Homepage

    I hate to state the obvious, but ftp.exe isn't part of the TCP/IP stack. While I'm sure MS started off with the BSD stack at the same time they grabbed a copy of the BSD userland utils, I'm also sure the stack's been gutted and replaced in the NT/2000/XP line, even though the userland utils are still largely unchanged. (As 10 minutes with Ethereal and nmap's fingerprinting option can tell you, the NT stack has its own, um, "unique" view of the TCP/IP standards. Not necessarily wrong, mind you... however, the 95/98/ME stack did behave vaguely like an ancient, buggy BSD stack from before people started protecting against TCP spoofing, until MS patched it up by hand around ME.)

  • by gig (78408) on Monday March 27, 2006 @07:16AM (#15001644)
    There are plenty of anecdotes from people who had great meetings and great business relationships with Steve Jobs. He is brusque and used to being around very smart, very capable, very talented people. It rubs some people the wrong way but he is not your life counselor and is not trying to be.

    What really matters is the work. Look at Apple since 1997 and what they have built it is outrageous. Anyone involved with that deserves respect and Steve probably earned his share.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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