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Heads Roll As Microsoft Misses Vista Target 386

Posted by Hemos
from the the-pressure-is-on dept.
A reader writes: "Business version is on time, but the company won't make the key holiday consumer sales season. After another delay in the release of its Windows Vista operating system, Microsoft last week put a new executive in charge of future Windows projects and replaced several other managers. The changes are designed to better align Microsoft's desktop and Internet software teams and get products to market faster." There's also a NY Times piece that discusses why Windows has been so slow (to come out). Worth the reading.
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Heads Roll As Microsoft Misses Vista Target

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  • ...cause I hear Linux is out already.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 27, 2006 @08:50AM (#15002231) Journal
    Either go to CNet's Hosting [com.com] of the article or use this login.

    Username: slashdot25
    Password: Slashdot

    The article in its entirety if you want to read it here:

    Windows Is So Slow, but Why?

    By STEVE LOHR and JOHN MARKOFF
    Published: March 27, 2006
    Back in 1998, the federal government declared that its landmark antitrust suit against the Microsoft Corporation was not merely a matter of law enforcement, but a defense of innovation. The concern was that the company was wielding its market power and its strategy of bundling more and more features into its dominant Windows desktop operating system to thwart competition and stifle innovation.

    Windows 95 had 15 million lines of code. That grew to 18 million lines by the time Windows 98 launched, above. Windows XP, released in 2001, has 35 million lines of code.

    Eight years later, long after Microsoft lost and then settled the antitrust case, it turns out that Windows is indeed stifling innovation -- at Microsoft.

    The company's marathon effort to come up with the a new version of its desktop operating system, called Windows Vista, has repeatedly stalled. Last week, in the latest setback, Microsoft conceded that Vista would not be ready for consumers until January, missing the holiday sales season, to the chagrin of personal computer makers and electronics retailers -- and those computer users eager to move up from Windows XP, a five-year-old product.

    In those five years, Apple Computer has turned out four new versions of its Macintosh operating system, beating Microsoft to market with features that will be in Vista, like desktop search, advanced 3-D graphics and "widgets," an array of small, single-purpose programs like news tickers, traffic reports and weather maps.

    So what's wrong with Microsoft? There is, after all, no shortage of smart software engineers working at the corporate campus in Redmond, Wash. The problem, it seems, is largely that Microsoft's past success and its bundling strategy have become a weakness. Windows runs on 330 million personal computers worldwide. Three hundred PC manufacturers around the world install Windows on their machines; thousands of devices like printers, scanners and music players plug into Windows computers; and tens of thousands of third-party software applications run on Windows. And a crucial reason Microsoft holds more than 90 percent of the PC operating system market is that the company strains to make sure software and hardware that ran on previous versions of Windows will also work on the new one -- compatibility, in computing terms.

    As a result, each new version of Windows carries the baggage of its past. As Windows has grown, the technical challenge has become increasingly daunting. Several thousand engineers have labored to build and test Windows Vista, a sprawling, complex software construction project with 50 million lines of code, or more than 40 percent larger than Windows XP.

    "Windows is now so big and onerous because of the size of its code base, the size of its ecosystem and its insistence on compatibility with the legacy hardware and software, that it just slows everything down," observed David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. "That's why a company like Apple has such an easier time of innovation."

    Microsoft certainly understands the problem, the need to change and the potential long-term threat to its business from rivals like Apple, the free Linux operating system, and from companies like Google that distribute software as a service over the Internet. In an internal memo last October, Ray Ozzie, chief technical officer, who joined Microsoft last year, wrote, "Complexity kills. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges and it causes end-user and administrator frustration."

    Last Mon
    • by David Off (101038) on Monday March 27, 2006 @08:58AM (#15002274) Homepage
      > Microsoft executive Goldberg bristles at the notion that little innovative work has come out of the Windows group since XP.

      Yes outrageous, litte innovative work has come out of Microsoft since Clippy!
    • Microsoft conceded that Vista would not be ready for consumers until January, missing the holiday sales season, to the chagrin of personal computer makers and electronics retailers

      Damn!

      I had planned to pick up at least a dozen copies of Vista as Christmas presents. Now I have to find something else for President Bush, Don Rumsfeld, Rupert Murdoch, Karl Rove ... Crap. I need a new gift for everybody on the top half of my naughty list.
    • by Jugalator (259273) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:35AM (#15002542) Journal
      As a result, each new version of Windows carries the baggage of its past. As Windows has grown, the technical challenge has become increasingly daunting. Several thousand engineers have labored to build and test Windows Vista, a sprawling, complex software construction project with 50 million lines of code, or more than 40 percent larger than Windows XP.

      "Windows is now so big and onerous because of the size of its code base, the size of its ecosystem and its insistence on compatibility with the legacy hardware and software, that it just slows everything down," observed David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. "That's why a company like Apple has such an easier time of innovation."


      I'm not so sure this is really why this time, or that it's the only reason...

      People paying some attention to the Vista development may notice that during build 5000, Microsoft did basically a 180 turn and decided to throw out the new foundation of managed (.NET) code on an XP SP2 based kernel, and rather go with the Windows Server 2003 kernel. This required such massive rewrites that to the end user experience, the project was essentially restarted. This happened in September 2004, just less than 2 years ago. And people wonder about the feature cuts and delays. ;-)

      MS did a major goof up in planning with this OS, and they're paying the price now. Just imagine if they could get the two years or so spent on developing on the wrong kernel and with an invalid design philophy back (it was later found out that .NET code sucked too much in performance to be usable). This time could be spent on making... well, how about WinFS? ;-)
      • by parabyte (61793) on Monday March 27, 2006 @05:46PM (#15006770) Homepage
        IMO another big problem is the missing fun factor. If you have ever looked at the windows source code, most of the 50 Mio lines of code is extremely ugly and boring.

        Most of the code looks like this:

        1) Setup & Initialize

        Get an interface here, claim some memory, find another interface over there, register own functionality here and there, try something else in case something has failed until you succeed or run out of options

        2) Delegation and Fallback

        If some particular module is not available, fall back to other implementations, reformat the data, manage lifetime and ownership, synchronize with some other activities, and then delegate the call to some other interface

        3) Error Handling and Recovery

        After each call, perform error checking, pass back the result to the caller, potentially reformatting it again, or raise some exceptions or create new higher level error codes from lower level error code you got

        4) Cleanup

        When it is time, either because some reference count went zero, some termination function was called or a garbage collector comes by, free all resources claimed so far, deregister references downstream and upstream

        The whole code is full of hungarian notation type casts, macros and microsoft specific language extensions, and the flow control statements are mostly branches. You are already lucky if you may write a loop that does some actual work, even if it is just collecting stuff from multiple calls.

        And then, if you look at APIs, there are much more parameters and much more options than e.g. in UNIX counterparts, and many options are not orthogonal, so you are entangled in a web of obscure semantics almost everywhere. And you do not have one API for the same stuff, you got a shitload of them: Win32, WinMM, GDI, ATL, OCX, MFC, COM, DCOM, ODBC, ActiveX, DirectX, XNA and tons of product specific APIs. It is already a nightmare to decide which API to use, but to support them all in a bug-by-bug compatible way is programmer's hell. It is like travelling with a hospital ship full of corpses that are not completely dead and need to be kept alive by a team of doctors, high doses of painkillers and cardiopulmonary and dialysis machinery, just in case someone needs them because he speaks this ancient lanuguage noone else but these living dead understands.

        With .NET, Microsoft did a good job at API design, but it is of no immediate help, it is just another API that has to be supported with all the other legacy APIs, so .NET does not reduce, but increases overall complexity and does not perform as well as the other APIs. Another problem with .NET is the lack of maturity, still requiring major changes on all levels, resulting in huge compatibility nightmares between different versions of .NET.

        But even if Microsoft would throw away everything but the kernel and .NET, I still would not jump on it because I do not like to be locked in on a particular platform; I want to be able to run my Software in MacOS and Linux and have a chance to port it to some hardware or OS that does not exist yet.

        If I were in charge at Microsoft, I would try some of the Google philosophy: Do not be evil, and give the people something they can like:

        1) A solid, simple well documumented and rock solid foundation that manages device I/O using a small set of calls with clear semantics: open, close, read, write, ioctl seem to sufficient to do a lot

        2)Choose the right atomic elements: Bytes, Characters, Numbers, Strings, Pixels, Images, Audio Samples, 3D-Polygons and video streams and make them first class citizens throughout the whole operating system.

        3) Implement all APIs people seem to like in a rock solid, feature complete and efficient manner: OpenGL, gtk, POSIX etc.

        4) Invent some new own cool High-Level APIs and frameworks and make sure they are available on Linux and MacO

  • Didn't this _exact_ same sort of thing happen like six months ago? I remember a delay being announced, a management shakedown, and a commitment that a new development process would acclerate Vista's arrival. I remember it even being discussed on slashdot. Oh my if I could only find the link...
    • Re:Deja Vu? (Score:5, Informative)

      by porkThreeWays (895269) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:02AM (#15002307)
      here [slashdot.org] and here [slashdot.org]. It's comical really. The first story goes on and on and on how lean Microsoft has become with their new development process. Obviously little has changed. It's also comical that their solution to these sorts of things always seems to be a management shakedown. A shakedown doesn't really help anything if there is a deeper problem. In reality, it will probably just result in further delays.
      • A shakedown doesn't really help anything if there is a deeper problem.

        It seems to me the biggest problem is the lack of modular architecture, like OSX and the *nix's. What does Chief Architect Gates say about the issue?

    • Have you ever seen the movie "The Game", starring Micheal Douglas? He plays a big tycoon in some mergers and aquisitions firm... in one scene, you see him visiting the head of some corperation... someone he obviously put there. You get the fact from their conversation that said head of corperation was put there just months before, and since he missed his target stock value by 1/4 of a point, he was terminated.

      People go to work for money. If that isn't your goal, you have some catching up to do.
  • Unfixable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Monday March 27, 2006 @08:56AM (#15002267) Journal
    I don't think Microsoft can salvage this. they've locked themselves into selling a monolith in an environment when a modular, easily and frequently updatable system is needed.

    I'd love to see the major corps get behind a push to reimplement the Windows APIs (IE, Wine or similar) so all OSs could run Win32 executables. Then the big MS lockin would be over and we users could have some choices.

    • The failure of OS/2 made clear an operating system capable of running software of the dominant OS tends not to develop a native software catalog.

      For a long time, even within IBM, OS/2 was being used as a Windows clone, running Windows binaries.

      • Re:Unfixable (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cyber-vandal (148830)
        My god I'm so sick of that specious, idiotic argument. OS/2 failed for a number of reasons, none of which were the above mindless parroting from you. Name any OS in the last 10 years that has successfully competed with Microsoft on the desktop. OSX is the only one that has made any inroads and that's mainly because it runs on more expensive and less compatible machines and therefore isn't really a threat to MS.
        There are only two ways that any OS could take customers from Microsoft. These are: either deliver
    • Wouldn't it be better if major corps got together and designed a modular and flexible system of APIs that covers today's needs? please let us get rid of Win32, which is is a horrible mess of various things mixed together randomly!
  • So...wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedyNO@SPAMtpno-co.org> on Monday March 27, 2006 @08:57AM (#15002271) Homepage
    Let me get this straight

    1) MS is rewriting key components from the ground up ( tcp/ip for one ).
    2) They are pushing for a faster and faster release cycle
    3) They are replacing managers working on vista.
    4) DRM will be built into vista

    Yeah huh. If it's all the same to you guys, I think I'll stick with xp on my home system ( just recently upgraded, btw ). Vista sounds like it's going to be a painful upgrade for the world at large, and I'd rather not experience that if at all possible.
    • Re:So...wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OneSeventeen (867010) *
      But what about the widgets?! Will somebody please think about the widgets?!!?

      Really, what is Vista advertising to do that Linux/OSX haven't been doing for years? And why do I need those vital features (such as 3d interfaces, widgets, and an online podcasting service) when XP runs great as long as you reinstall it once a year and filter what you put on it.

      Way to go Microsoft, you created a market nobody needed, filled it with crap, and are trying to spin that crap into gold instead of cleaning out the crap
  • by grasshoppa (657393)
    FTFA:
    Microsoft also said Mike Nash will leave his job as head of its security technology unit for an unspecified role.

    Now, as soon as I read this, I caught myself thinking, "Maybe he was doing his job TOO well, hence all the delays".
  • by Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:02AM (#15002302) Homepage
    Why's it taking so long? Because, unlike previous "new versions" of Windows, this is not just a cosmetic overhaul but a complete redesign of the OS from the kernel up! Also, as somebody else mentioned, updating the mspaint.exe codebase is proving quite problematic :)
    • Re:Why the delay? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by clbell (921567) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:31AM (#15002509) Homepage
      Yes, it's a complete redesign from the ground up. That's why the same crummy registry concept is there, why the control panel looks exactly the same with many of the same icons, why dll hell still exists to some degree, why programs are still installed in the same way, why the explorer process requires 100MB vs 20MB in XP. The way apps are installed and managed in OS X is so obviously superior that MS would be stupid not to copy it during a complete redesign. Should I go on? A complete redesign, I HOPE, would involve streamlining code/operation and killing some of it's demons. Vista does neither. What MS have done is rewritten some of the modules and added a lot of new modules, which is why Vista has 15 million lines of code (or so) more than XP. It's a much more complex OS...and not in a good way.
    • Why's it taking so long? Because, unlike previous "new versions" of Windows, this is not just a cosmetic overhaul but a complete redesign of the OS from the kernel up!

      Actually, it's based on the Windows Server 2003 SP1 kernel.
      Yes, I know you're joking; just using the opportunity. :-)

      It's based on that kernel since just 2 years ago. Microsoft messed up big time with that part and had to reintroduce + cuts tons of features due to this paradigm shift in both kernel and OS vision.
  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:02AM (#15002306) Homepage Journal
    The changes are designed to better align Microsoft's desktop and Internet software teams and get products to market faster

    I thought it was delayed because of DirectX 10 and game\media\PVR issues. Now that 60% is being rewritten will hardware manufacturers like ATI have to ditch their millions of dollars of R&D and start their Vista drivers from scratch?
    • by VikingThunder (924574) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:15AM (#15002381)
      Actually, if you remember, there is no 60% code rewrite. That was some BS Smarthouse made up, and everybody else sourced it.
    • I thought it was delayed because of DirectX 10 and game\media\PVR issues. Now that 60% is being rewritten will hardware manufacturers like ATI have to ditch their millions of dollars of R&D and start their Vista drivers from scratch?

      I don't think so. Remember DirectX 10 is only an API, there is no sgnificant code base behind it. So I don't think it casued delay, and don't think hardware manufacturers would be wasting significant efforts if there are changes in it. The only important thing is speci

  • by David Off (101038) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:03AM (#15002312) Homepage
    > Vista was also held up because the project was restarted in the summer of 2004. The new work, Microsoft decided, would take a new approach. Vista was built more in small modules that then fit together like Lego blocks, making development and testing easier to manage.

    Wow, Microsoft discovers modular design and good interfaces 30 years after the rest of the world went that way.
  • by aka_big_wurm (757512) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:05AM (#15002322) Homepage
    I am so sad now that I cant get her Vista for Christmas, I am sure may other of you are and in same boat. Because Vista was the Must have gift this year.

    The truth is that MS is trying to get this on right, and waiting to ship Vista untill its done, at the same time they are being honest with us about ship date and features. Funny we bash them for shiping buggy programs and then bash them for holding back a buggy program.
    • The main people bashing them for delaying are manufacturers of computers.
      The reason for that is they expect that sales of computers as gifts during the Christmas season will be slow since people will see that the new version of ms-windows is 1-3 months away so will delay purchasing.
      To combat that manufacturers will provide a free upgrade to vista for any computer purcahsed during the Christmas season. So now the manufacturers need to the extra cost for distributing that and all the phone calls as people
  • Heads roll (Score:2, Funny)

    by LoonyMike (917095)
    It must be awfully painful, getting your head decapitated by a thrown chair!
  • Mty suggestions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MECC (8478) * on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:06AM (#15002334)
    Find Dave Cutler, who MS hired along with a team to built NT:
    From Dave regarding NT:
    • "If any of you break this build, your ass is grass, and I'm the lawnmower." -- David Cutler to his programmers during the development of NT
    • "I won't pollute it [NT] with crap!" -- Cutler to Bill Gates, upon being told that NT was to have an OS/2 "personality" as an alternative front-end.

    Or, get someone with a trackercord of delivering a modern OS. Like Maybe Linus.

    Or, hire Christopher Walken as a Project manager

    • Re:Mty suggestions (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:20AM (#15002412)
      Or, get someone with a trackercord of delivering a modern OS. Like Maybe Linus.

      Is *anyone* qualified for this? Linus, for example, just works on the low-level Liunx kernel. Vista is a kernel + the .net runtime + graphics layers + GUI + DirectX + user-level applications that ship with the OS.
    • Re:Mty suggestions (Score:4, Informative)

      by meringuoid (568297) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:21AM (#15002424)
      Or, get someone with a trackercord of delivering a modern OS. Like Maybe Linus.

      What the hell does Linus know about delivering a modern OS? He's a Unix kernel guru. I doubt the kernel is what's giving Microsoft problems.

      Now, maybe they could get in touch with RMS instead? After all, the OS based around Linus's kernel is mostly of his creation... Or maybe not. Though it would be amusing to read the reports in the news of Windows users' heads exploding the day after they find that their new Windows shell was in fact xemacs.

    • Or, hire Christopher Walken as a Project manager.

      Walken: Well guys, Vista looks good, but I tell you what... it needs more cowbell.
    • Or, hire Christopher Walken as a Project manager

      So any programmers who mess up get tossed out of a dirigible? Or his is real job to flood Cupertino? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090264/ [imdb.com] Of course, he might be too evil, even for Microsost.
  • by Aqua04 (859925) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:12AM (#15002365) Journal
    I think the headline of the article is a bit misleading. From what I have read, I don't think "heads are rolling" at Microsoft yet. They have restructured, which they do about once or twice a year anyway, but the problem of multiple layers of general managers and layer upon layer of Vice Presidents remains.

    If you read some of the postings on the minimsft blog, you see that Sinofsky has been brought in to streamline things, but the question abut what to do with all the legacy management overhead still remains.

    They have so many people which they promoted up over the years that they'll need to figure out how to flatten the organization whilst thinking about what to do with all these people in middle management. That'll be the interesting question in the coming years, I think.

    • by QuantGuy (654249)
      Mod parent UP! Heads have most pointedly NOT rolled. Jim Allchin is still employed by the company, and will be there until his scheduled retirement. None of the management team in charge of the development of Windows have been fired. Ballmer is still running the joint. Gates is still "chief software architect", in spite of the fact that the glorious innovations he dreamed up, like the relational-database file system (WinFS) and the next-gen API (WinFX) have been gutted from Vista. Microsoft has just shuf
  • Dare I Say It... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eno2001 (527078) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:12AM (#15002368) Homepage Journal
    Netcraft confirms it! Windows OS is dying! ;P

    Seriously, I spent some time last night reading through a Microsoft employee's blog discussing this very issue. While it might sound like big trouble in little China, it's likely to be well glossed over by their PR campaigns. Heads will roll at MS, but not the right ones. The big guys there will say that this was the work of either an "astroturfer" who doesn't even work for MS, or a disgruntled employee who really didn't have a grasp on the business end of things. In other words Ballme and company will be saying, "nothing to see here, move along".

    As a side note, I found one of the comments on that blog particularly insulting. Someone had the audacity to say that Microsoft is becoming more and more like DEC. This couldn't be furthest from the truth. DEC was run by the engineers, meaning that the entire company was nothing but engineers. No suits. No business men. Just pure brain. That's why DEC's systems pretty much defined the phrase "just works". MS isn't even close. They tried and they got Cutler to design NT. But then they threw out everything that he had laid out in NT when they hit 2k for business reasons. If you want a great OS, you forget about business reasons. If you want to run a great business, then you need to accept that there will always be compromises and you'll always have a subpar product when compared to the output of pure engineering. Them's the breaks folks. That's why the FOSS world outshines Microsoft at every turn in terms of design and doesn't really make much of a dent business-wise. And it's why MS is so successful as a business but can't create an OS that you'd trust your life with.
  • Ray of Light (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:14AM (#15002375)
    In an internal memo last October, Ray Ozzie, chief technical officer, who joined Microsoft last year, wrote, "Complexity kills. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges and it causes end-user and administrator frustration."

    Well Ray should know, he does work there.
    I think in Microsoft's desire to be the everything of operating systems, they have bitten off more than they can chew. They need to re-think their strategy and aim to a secure, less-complicated and smaller operating system. Then later, they can release a huge Vista at a time of their choosing.
  • Who wants DRM? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblom@g ... BSDcom minus bsd> on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:14AM (#15002377) Homepage Journal
    I know who wants it.

    The strange thing is that its not any users of Windows. DRM gives the manufacturers a new unpreceedent tool for administrating users computers without they having a say about it. Once you install an application that uses DRM your computer isnt yours anymore.

    Who would want that? Good thing is it will make Linux look so much better.
    • Sure, no user wants DRM. It offers NO benefit for me and a LOT of drawbacks.

      But content providers will require it. You want to run our games? You need Vista or it won't run. You want to play our CDs? Vista. You want to view our movie? Vista.

      Still wonder if it's gonna sell?
  • by segedunum (883035) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:28AM (#15002483)
    Plain and simple. I remember when Windows 2000 came out, and that was hyped to the hills as the most secure and high quality Windows that was really going to replace Unix everywhere. Funnily enough, the hype sounded like Vista now. There was an article in 1999 that described their development process, how they were redesigning Windows for security, (just like with Vista!) and God, is it a mess. It is just a massive production line where code is committed by programmers with little regard as to whether it will conflict with changes other people are making. It gets shipped off to the testers, they test some build, OK it and then another team commits code that breaks it in the next testing cycle and build. They then rinse and repeat this process until it seems to work. Small wonder they need so many programmers and people involved as well as the huge amount of time that takes.

    I hate to bring up Apple, but look at their OS. They've put an awful lot of features into their software, with less programmers and with much more of an idea of what they want to achieve - and I think that last point is the key. It just sounds as though some marketing people at Microsoft have been moving the goalposts shouting "Right, we need seven versions to extract more money!", "Oh right, now we're doing media!", "We're doing 3D eye candy!", "We're doing TV!", "We want support for new DRM hardware to please film studios!", "We want integration with some pointless app for social networking!" etc. etc. It seems to me that no one has drawn up a set of proper requirements for Vista. I get the Vista betas through MSDN, and honestly, I just cannot see how they couldn't have achieved where they got to now by evolving from Windows XP SP 2 and 2003 in a far shorter timescale and then building other products and components on top of it when it got finalised.

    Two-fold, on top of that, I'm also convinced that because of all those teams putting code into Windows, and having Windows interoperate tightly with other components and products and vice-versa, Microsoft are having very serious integration and communication problems. What's that saying? Nine women can't have a baby in one month? It seems as though Microsoft's "let's just throw programmers at it" strategy is doomed now and post-Vista, and they're going to have to work out what they're going to do. The big problem is, Microsoft don't know how to develop any other way, and changing a few managers around will change nothing.

    Computers that do speech? Intelligent systems? A digital home? Media systems running Windows? Flat touch-screen panels running Windows in every area of your house? On top of developing a base version of Windows, Office, development tools.....all inter-connected?! Fat chance. There's no way they'll be able to co-ordinate that kind of development complexity with the kind of absolute reliability that's demanded there. Windows still has a future, obviously, but I'm sorry to tell Microsoft that they're not going to be leading us into this new brave world they think we're going to buy into.
    • Plain and simple. I remember when Windows 2000 came out, and that was hyped to the hills as the most secure and high quality Windows that was really going to replace Unix everywhere. Funnily enough, the hype sounded like Vista now

      So instead of recycling code, they are recycling marketing material.

      At least they are recycling something!!!

    • by ivan256 (17499) * on Monday March 27, 2006 @10:26AM (#15002963)
      Yes, look at Apple, and you'll see the real reason why Microsoft is missing deadlines. Really. I'm not being sarcastic.

      The guy who wrote that blog post yesterday hit on it too and he didn't even realize it:

      "I was upset at missing the back-to-school market. Now we're missing the holiday sales market. All of those laptops and PCs are going to have XP on it."

      Yup. What's the price for Microsoft's failure to deliver? Nothing. They get the cash anyway. The only downside to this latest slip is the unusually high amount of publicity it's getting.

      But, you say, if they keep slipping competition will catch up... Well, maybe, but not this decade. There is nobody even close.

      Apple? Please. Businesses won't pick a platform that locks them into a single vendor's hardware anymore, and most home users won't buy anything without a 35% sticker on it (does Dell ever sell stuff at full price?). Even if they found a way around those problems, history will show that they're really good at blowing it.

      Desktop Linux? Nope. It's got two permanant and fatal flaws. No huge marketing department, and no goons breathing down OEM and channel partner throats.

      Microsoft's development model, their schedule, their everything is based on the fact that there is no financial incentive for success, and no financial disincentive for failure. They'll fire people, or whatever, but nothing will prompt the kind of change that needs to happen there until they have some serious competition. And we should be glad. Their failure to deliver creates jobs for software and operating system engineers outside the Redmond area.
      • Desktop Linux? Nope. It's got two permanant and fatal flaws. No huge marketing department, and no goons breathing down OEM and channel partner throats.

        I would add another flaw: Lack of consistent vision.

        Before I get flamed as a Microsoft fanboy or something, I do run linux and I like it a lot.

        But that said, the open source community is just that -- a community. There isn't any "linux god" (or "desktop linux god") who in any way controls direction. Many projects have essentially no regard for the en


    • I hate to bring up Apple, but look at their OS

      Hmmm... I recently bought an Intel iMac for working with video. I can tell you it is just as loopy as any Windows box I have ever had. I'm not trying to criticize the iMac, since it does what I want it to do very well, especially once I learned what not to do to keep iMovie from crashing. My experience with the iMac suggests than in terms of predictability and software stability, it is not much better, if at all, than XP.

      I also think the UI sucks in compariso

  • by Kjella (173770) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:30AM (#15002498) Homepage
    ...is certainly going to quickly lead to their downfall. Breaking compatibility with old applications leads to people looking for new applications. If they were do to that, they should have done so years ago when they had the market power. Nevermind that they pretty much did going from Win95/98/ME line to WinNT/2k/XP.

    Seriously, if you were looking at a new application today, if you're not considering cross-platform compatible apps (Java or .NET/Mono) or webservices (traditional or AJAX), you're not doing your job. Same goes for open standards, integration possibilities (e.g. XML/SOAP) and so on. When you're in the position Microsoft is in it's about making it as easy as possible to keep running Windows. Particularly the old cruft that work (hence, don't break it) but won't run anywhere but Windows.
    • Nevermind that they pretty much did going from Win95/98/ME line to WinNT/2k/XP.

      This is what kills me. They have a huge legacy codebase that they hate dealing with, but they feel like they can't give it up because they don't want to break apps. Why don't they write a new core for their OS--an ideal one that they would love to work with and has all the advanced feature capability that they desire--and then float it alongside the old version of the OS? Those that don't want to break their apps for the n

  • If at first you don't succeed, redefine success.
  • Microsoft Windows Vista will be shipping with a free trial of "Duke Nukem Forever".
  • ...every time Microsoft says "this is a completely new operating system." (I forget exactly how they worded the claims, but they managed to give a strong impression that they were claiming that MS-DOS was not part of Windows 95... just like Clinton gave the impression he was saying he did not have sex with Monica Lewinsky, or like Bush gave the impression he was saying Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11).

    Every time they say that the new OS is secure.

    Every time they say that the new OS is easy to use and do
  • I don't work for Microsoft, so I don't have an internalized, first-hand perspective. I am not a Microsoft Hater(tm) - I am (largely)platform-agnostic.

    With that disclaimer said...

    The Windows Vista message is garbled, when seen from the perspective of people who just "use the OS." They are saying, "Windows what?" In addition to the marketing vision dilution, I have strong feelings that all the many versions will be inappropriate to the market's needs - AND will cause Microsoft major headaches for at least
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday March 27, 2006 @10:05AM (#15002771) Homepage
    ...take the current version of XP; change the default color for the desktop, scramble the order of every feature in every menu, and add some spiffy new splash screens and logos and a new package.

    Every significant feature of Vista has already been removed, they might as well remove the rest.

    Voila! They make their ship date, PC manufacturers have a merry Christmas, everybody is thrilled at how backward-compatible it is and how little retraining is necessary.

    Nobody will get upset but a few literal-minded techies. Anybody dissatisfied with Windows as we know it migrated away years ago.
  • Why don't they rip out the legacy support, offer a slim, fast, "next-gen" Windows OS, and then offer an optional (free?) legacy pack that would install all the unnecessary crap if someone needs to run that DOS checking app from 1990? Or maybe if people can't run their 20 year old software that doesn't have support anymore, they might be inclined to move to something better.
  • "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
  • by wandazulu (265281) on Monday March 27, 2006 @10:27AM (#15002966)
    I'm always shocked (shocked!) that the problems outlined in The Mythical Man Month [slashdot.org] are still happening, years and years after the fact. I too have been on projects where the knee-jerk reaction is "let's get more people!" and it has always been a disaster. In fact, one project I was on was hosed by a single commented line (long story) done by a consultant who was there for two days, and never even knew how the system worked (or else he wouldn't have done what he did).

    On the other hand, how can projects like the Apollo Space Program succeed? Compared to any computer project, it's unbelievable that anyone can manage all the parts, companies, and research that went in to sending a man to the moon. I read a book, available on NASA's website (sorry, don't have the URL) which described what it took just to build the crawler and superstructure, and I think it was hundreds and hundreds of pages of minutia that I can't believe actually came together.

    What's worse of all is that it's one thing to say "this time it's different because...", but with Microsoft they're not saying anything; they seem resigned to the screw up and figure that their monopoly will simply carry the day. "Yeah, we've botched it, but so what? You're gonna use it, you have no choice!"
  • by Randall311 (866824) on Monday March 27, 2006 @10:41AM (#15003103) Homepage
    These last few days of delay announcements at MS after 5 _years_ of development are really making them look incompetent from a business point of view. Though I highly doubt management "shakedowns" will help speed up the development process. The problem here, as has been mentioned before, is Microsoft's unwillingness to let go of the past. Do you remember when they announced that IE was a "mature product" and didn't need to be developed any further? I mean, did they think time would just sit still for them? Would Ford stop designing the Mustang because "It's a mature car"? Microsoft's IE6 is now the laughing stock of Internet browsers, and rightfully so since it's been neglected so badly. Maybe we'll see vast amounts of improvement with IE7, but I'm not holding my breath. At least MS now understands that development can never stop unless you plan on just dropping a product permenently.

    Even after Microsoft wised up to their development blunders like IE, they still have a near unmanagable beast in 50+ million lines of codebase. The #1 weakness that Microsoft has is it's refusal to drop legacy support out of it's products. It may even lead to their undoing. They have allowed feature after feature to snowball into the massive clusterfuck that Windows currently is. In order to meet the demands of the future, Windows will have to simplify. I know it sounds like that is a step backwords, but think about it. How did Apple make such a successful product in OS X? They blew up OS 9 and started from scratch with a proven codebase. That is what Windows needs to do to keep up. Only after Microsoft ditches the i386 legacy and bloat that's suffocating them, will they get some much needed breathing room. Apple had to take a big step back to get ahead to where they are today, and I'm sure it wasn't easy for them, but it's already paying massive diviends. Imagine how wonderful it would be for everybody in the long run if MS took this same approach. Windows has turned into a massive out-of-control beast that has everything including the kitchen sink in it, with about 7 different variations of home and office OSes that are enough to confuse anyone in the industry, let alone the poor consumers who have to figure out which version of Windows best suits them.

    That said, there is really only one roadblock for switching to Linux full time (at least for me), and that is the fonts. I've tried everything from grabbing the MS fonts from my Windows partition, to any combination of AA and/or hinting and DPI resolution I can think of. The fonts just come up weak IMO. I know a lot of you love the fonts in Linux and just wouldn't have it any other way, but I guess I have a different opinion then most of you out there. Windows and OS X fonts look about 100 times better to me. Say what you want, but when I boot up into Windows after spending a few hours in Linux, it's like cleaning a layer of grease off of my glasses.
  • by seven of five (578993) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:23PM (#15004387) Homepage
    Backward compatibility is not the problem.
    From early on the main goal of MS software was to "burn cycles". As Intel churned out ever faster processors something had to greedily consume those cycles, keeping the customers on the upgrade treadmill forever. MS software ensured that the latest generation hardware was just good enough, but the next gen of software brought the hardware to its knees.

    So, what do you get after 20 years of bloatware and burning cycles? A monster that's become impossible to manage. A monster of their own creation.

fortune: cpu time/usefulness ratio too high -- core dumped.

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