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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 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.
  • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel DOT hedblom AT gmail DOT 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:2, Interesting)

    by denoir (960304) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:08AM (#14997269)
    It is a wider problem: technological development is supposed to progress exponentially. Vista took them five years to make, longer than any other release - and it certainly isn't a monumental release in terms of technology.

    Vista should have been either released much sooner or it should have been a revolutionary change as far as operating systems go.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:13AM (#14997281)
    A couple of days back, I read a very good article here on slashdot about how a couple of OS companies were taking the users on a ride [slashdot.org] by compelling them to upgrade their hardware to meet the minimum OS requirements.

    Now we see that many in Microsoft are also feeling the same way though for an entirely different reason. Is it that microsoft is slowly losing its focus by trying to put their fingers in each and every pie out there rather than concentrating on their strengths ?

    In many developers and users mind, Google is considered to be a better company both for its fairplay as well as how it treats its employees...
  • 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.

  • Re:Make no mistake (Score:2, Interesting)

    by j-pimp (177072) <zippy1981.gmail@com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:39AM (#14997331) Homepage 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.


    I call bullshit here. Your point about discontent causing people to rise up is valid. However, we shouldn't hope for bad leadership of our enemies to win the war. We should win the war because our methods are better.

    A Napoleon or Hoffer might eventually come along, but they come to pass. Some will see beyond them and continue to their open source ways, just as RMS did many years ago.
  • by blowdart (31458) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:56AM (#14997379) Homepage
    There's something rather strange about people clammering for responsibility, but who remain anonymous not taking responsibility for their own opinions ....
  • 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).
  • 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.

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

    by rkcallaghan (858110) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:53AM (#14997519)
    (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 awesome weapons of the engineering paradigm can slay any dragon.

    Okay, you knew someone was gonna stick up for engineers around here, so here I am. I'm going to pick up on your previous Star Trek analogy too, for maximum geek-factor.

    There will of course be engineers like this, just like there are managers that think they are engineers. A good crew however, doesn't work like this.

    Geordi LaForge doesn't WANT to be Captain. In fact, aside from some minor rank bumps early in the shows career when he moved from helmsman to Chief Engineer, Geordi showed no signs of wanting to move up at all. He was already EXACTLY where he belonged, in the engine room of the fleet flagship, under a great Captain.

    Good engineers don't want to be out fighting Klingons and worrying about Ferengi ripping them off and Romulans stealing their toys. That's what good CAPTAINS are for. Picard gave Geordi engineering problems, and listened to him when Geordi said he design a way to tie the holodeck to the warp core and fix the particle of the week. There were also plenty of times they went to that meeting room, and Geordi sat there with his hands in his lap because it wasn't an engineering problem, and the best he could offer was to carry a tricorder on the away team.

    This is like a good engineer wet dream -- all the best toys to play with, with a gung ho first officer and an angry klingon between you and everything else that can get in your way, from Cardassians to Starfleet Brass.

    ~Rebecca
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:21AM (#14997590)
    People who follow ATI closely should remember that ATI has been promising a new OpenGL driver to people for years now. This has mostly just been mentioned to ATI forum fans and a few game developers.

    This project has been going on for over 3 years now and so far it has missed every single milestone. For instance the first shipping milestone was supposed to be a driver that would ship for the top 5 OpenGL games at the time (Doom 3, Quake 3, Serious Sam SE ...). This was way back in January 2005 and was supposed to offering significant performance increases for these games. Today we have a new OpenGL driver that has never been seen outside ATI, is buggy, is lacking features, is about 30% slower than the old driver in newer games like Doom 3, and about 5 times slower in older games like Quake 3.

    Management's biggest mistake has been their tendency to flail between different milestones. The goals of this project have jumped around about five times forcing the driver developers to frequently abandon half finished code and in general resulted in extremely inefficient use of the developers' times. The milestones have changed between things like workstation certification, back to consumer performance, to new hardware support, to Linux support. The current milestone is back to shipping for the top few OpenGL games for the R580 in a few months, but every OpenGL driver developer who doesn't blindly listen to management knows there's no fucking way that's going to happen. The next milestone after that fails will be to full R600 (our next generation of hardware) support. That is where the proverbial shit will hit the fan because there is no backup plan at that point. On every previous missed milestone there was always the backup plan that we just continue shipping the old driver. Management decided instead of allocating the resources to have the R600 work on both the old driver and the new driver it would only work on the new driver. Now it's too late to start support for R600 on the old driver. With this new driver the most that has been accomplished on the R600 emulator is to render a simple test case with a single a textured triangle, which is so far behind D3D at this point it's ridiculous. I'm not even going to touch the other issues this new OpenGL driver has created for things like supporting the Vista driver model or new extensions.

    Compounding the problem, many of the veteran and most talented OpenGL driver developers have requested and received internal transfers off the OpenGL driver team out of frustration over this project. In addition many of the people left on the driver team have lost their enthusiasm for work. Before this new driver project it was not uncommon to see people staying late to fix that last bug or add a new feature, but now many developers just treat it as a 9-5 job.

    There is little question that most of the blame for this debacle can be blamed on Joe Chien with a little blame to be spread to others like Joe's boss Rick Bergman. So what's happened to Joe during this cluster fuck of failures? He was promoted from manager to director...
  • by sgasch (239701) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:38AM (#14997630) Homepage
    Not that it cannot change, cf Firefox.

    This comment is being posted from Firefox, which I love. But I have to call bull on this. Despite being superior to IE in almost every way Firefox is left with a market share of, maybe, 15%.

    95% of users are content to just run what comes with the OS. It's a testiment to how good Firefox is (or maybe how poor IE is) that it has more than a 5% market share.

  • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fwr (69372) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:38AM (#14997631)
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. "
  • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @11:11AM (#14997917) Homepage
    Probably not.

    Apple's whole development team has probably turned over completely since then, with most of the head guys coming from former NeXT.

    We worship Steve now. Hail Steve!

    And really, that's meant to be funny, but it's almost serious. What a job Steve's done, and what a vivid contrast to Ballmer and friends.

    Isn't it funny that Steve Ballmer is never Steve? No, if we say Steve without a last name, it's always Jobs.

    D
  • 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.

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

    by thogard (43403) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @11:39AM (#14998009) Homepage
    Microsoft makes lots of money selling those boxes. Their business model is tied to those boxes just as much as the big record companies business model is to moving their little bits of plastic. The data bits on the bits of plastic aren't nearly as important to the business plan as moving the bits of plastic.

    This whole thing with Vista reads like a chapter on "Error, Distance and Camouflage" as described by Livingston in his book "The new Plague" back in 1985. This is going to get very interesting when it gets to the "End of Project Mismatch Discovery" stage.
  • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by QuesarVII (904243) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#14998109)
    That's right... only under linux distos, components are much more modularized. This better enables development by independent groups. If they wanted to "open up" a little to fight off complaints from groups like the EU, they can communicate between groups only with publicly available apis. Maybe this type of already proven organization could help the situation for Microsoft?
  • by spectre_240sx (720999) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:09PM (#14998125) Homepage
    Maybe they'll continue to follow in Apple's footsteps and actually produce a decent OS one of these days. I, for one, welcome disruptions like this in stagnant companies. With all of the press releases and developers videos coming out it's starting to feel like developers are actually taking hold of the software and moving it in the direction they want it to go rather than the marketing department controlling everything.

    I'll still be a proponent of alternative operating systems because it's just not good to be limited, but I would be very happy to see MS turn out a decent product for once.
  • Mod parent DOWN! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slash ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:14PM (#14998140) Homepage Journal
    Have you realized that he CAN'T change the company from inside?

    He says it, he LIKES working there, but he needs to point out the problems. If he tries to do something for a change in a draconian environment, he might as well be fired. IMHO you haven't read EVEN ONE of his blog entries. He LOVES Microsoft, and he WANTS to change it.

    Do you think you REALLY can change a WHOLE WORK STRUCTURE in a company just by going to your boss and saying "we need to get rid of these problems"? Oh wait, this one's better. "Boss, we need you to get fired".

    The real problem is that Ballmer is F**KING BLIND, he WON'T ACCEPT that there are problems in his company. Microsoft is a time bomb. You should be glad that we have Mini-MSFT to alert the shareholders about the precarious condition of the company.
  • Re:They do?!? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NutscrapeSucks (446616) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @12:46PM (#14998264)
    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:Where Future? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 2nd Post! (213333) <.ten.llebcap. .ta. .raebdnug.> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:10PM (#14998336) Homepage
    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)
    Distributed computing (XGrid, built into every copy of OS X 10.4)
    Adoption of EFI (Intel tech of course, but similar to the extant Open Firmware)

    Of course there were a few things Apple did inherit from NeXT as well:
    Advanced development environment (Cocoa, not WinFX)
    Cross platform development/deployment (Fat binaries ne Universal)
    Self contained application containers (Bundles)

    All Microsoft seems to have accomplished in the past few years is managed code in .NET, which doesn't seem to have taken off. If you want new technologies, why wait for the entrenched dominant company to release it? All Microsoft will do is lower the price due to size and inertia
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 26, 2006 @01:22PM (#14998390)
    "Get rid of 90% of the Process that goes between writing the code and getting it checked in...."

    Unfortunately one of these pieces of "process" involves actually running the compiler over it. Yes, people have been known to check in code that hasn't been run through the compiler.

    The unfortunate fact is that many of the people who are calling for heads to roll are the same people who check in crap day after day after day. If you want to know why the product is late, just look at the number of bugs in it, even after it ships.
  • Re:It's unfortunate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:49PM (#14998729) Journal
    Isn't it funny that Steve Ballmer is never Steve? No, if we say Steve without a last name, it's always Jobs.


    Maybe in your circles. The people I know all refer to him as 'Jobs' and dislike him in almost every way.

    People who run the kind of 'personal operation' that Jobs does slowly alienate anybody who isn't a sucker. He uses people and either converts or discards them. I was reading an article about Jim Jones (you know- the 'Jim Jones' where everybody knows who you mean, even though it's a common name) and he has a similar personality to Steve Jobs.

    'Praise Steve' indeed.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:58PM (#14998772)
    Exactly the point. Peasants and peons get no voice, they're being treated like other company property. Hire and fire.

    I've had my share of working for a company with this kind of attitude. We outsourced everything (but management, of course). What couldn't be outsourced was replaced by temps that you could easily get rid of when you don't need them anymore.

    The result was that the "peons" treated their "king" the same way they were treated. The clock hit 5 and he was out the door. Sure, 5 minutes more and he could've checked in the code, but who cares? The company going down a few 1000$ for delay penalties? Pick up your cell and try to call someone who cares.

    Moral was LOW. Even lower than the wages.

    The few perms that remained (amongst them me) were to take the blame and "motivate" them. My suggestion for motivation ("pay more than 8 an hour") was shot down immediately. Fluctuation was stunning. Average turnover time was less than half a year.

    Now, anyone in the biz worth his salt knows what it means to dump someone into a 5 year old project and expect productivity. It takes at least a month to get a good, experienced coder productive. Since we were strictly required to hire temps, and few temps are experienced coders, it took closer to 2-3 months 'til we saw any productive code that didn't require long reviews and debugging processes.

    Because temp work has a stunning (and in management appearantly unknown) problem: YOU DON'T GET GOOD PEOPLE FOR TEMP WORK! If they were any good, they'd have a perm job!

    And the few perm techs that didn't get sacked leave on their own. Quickly. Because they see what's going on. They know their productivity hits an all time low when half of your team is, on average, training. The other half is busy training them. Or writing meaningless reports for the beancounters so they know what cost center they can put the burden of the untrained and unskilled (and thus unproductive) coders on.

    I can't remember a single person that was NOT looking for another job.

    I quitted this job in November (I'm not gonna tell which large, German corporation I was talking about. If you're in it, you know which one it is). Now I have a different job. Less bureaucracy. More productivity. More "direct" communication. Quicker market adaption and reaction. And even more money.

    Sure, job safety isn't the same. I could've spent my productive years without a problem in the big corp I was in earlier. Up until retirement. But I'd have probably succumbed to booze or stronger stuff way earlier 'cause I couldn't take the incompetence in management anymore.

    Now, my current boss isn't much more knowledgeable in technical matters. He's good at selling, but he's no tech. But at least he KNOWS that!
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by westlake (615356) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:06PM (#14999679)
    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... Apple's Mac OS X has been a far better alternative for regular users than Linux...yet nearly everyone sticks with Windows.

    Microsoft has been in the home and office for over twenty-five years, and most of that time has been spent building ground-level relationships with users.

    This is something very different from the authoritarian, top-down approach, in Linux, too often seen here, in which users are lusers to be set on the right track by a technocratic elite.

  • 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 eric76 (679787) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @08:12PM (#14999878)
    I suspect that WinFS is probably a problem just by itself.

    Ask yourself which is more likely to become corrupted: a file system or a database?

    About 12 or 13 years ago, I toyed with the idea of a creating a database out of a file system. After much thought, especially about the possibilities for corruption, I decided that it was better to keep them separate.

    If they do issue WinFS, you'd better make sure you do regular backups.

    I think about WinFS a lot like I think about the Windows Registry -- they make sense at first, but in the long run, they just turn into a bigger pain in the ass then what they are replacing.
  • by pavera (320634) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @11:04PM (#15000363) Homepage Journal
    It is sometimes ok to break backwards compat... However, the way mozilla/firefox does it is not good. As a one time extension developer I can attest to your example. When 1.5 came out, and the entire extension structure changed, I simply abandoned the 6 extensions I was working on...

    They are not updated to 1.5, and I have no plans to do so, because I spent a considerable amount of time building, creating, and maintaining these extensions and the amount of time I would have to spend to relearn and redo them is not worth it to me. And guess what! They are doing it again for 2.0 the whole extension mechanism is going to be redone once more, so if I update to 1.5, I'll just have to relearn again in a few months.

    On the other hand, GCC has broken compat multiple times, and its relatively painless to go in and fix the bits of code and recompile.... I use apache 2.0 in everything I do, I really doubt your claim that "no one" uses it... It comes standard in all the distros now, and yeah if you have something that is completely dependant on 1.3, maybe you're still running it.

    Anyway, your arguments all fall down on the following fact: Hey at least with open source you can keep using 1.3 for as long as you want. You can keep using gcc 2.96 for as long as you want. You can keep using firefox 1.0 for as long as you want. and if you need a fix, you have to code it yourself or pay someone a small fee to come code a fix, but its not like dealing with MS.

    MS broke merge letters with dynamic queries in Office 2003. Plain and simple doesn't work anymore (worked fine in 97, 2k, and XP). I work in the legal industry, they use this feature ALL THE TIME. I have spent months in the last 2 years "downgrading" law offices to office xp and 2000 after they upgraded entire offices to 2003 and found that it broke everything... (BTW I did spend the requisite hours/days messing with MS tech support and they finally gave up and said "Yeah I guess that's not supported anymore") and I'm not even talking about using a non ms database (all access or SQL server). There is no fix, the feature is simply not supported anymore, and there is no choice but to keep running the old software, and support/fixes/security fixes will be impossible in another year (2000 support is phased out).

    The point is with MS you're stuck, if they break backwards compat (and don't say they never do because they do), you either pound sand and "upgrade" and lose needed functionality, or you keep using the old software that works, but is riddled with security holes that can't/never will be fixed. With OSS you can keep using the old software and at least get security fixes, or someone will code a fix in the new software eventually, and the same features will be available and you can upgrade, either way, you aren't left out in the cold.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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