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Ray Ozzie Quit... What Took Him So Long? 224

GMGruman writes "The mainstream press acts surprised that Microsoft's chief software architect is resigning, but InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard explains through a review of Ozzie's efforts at Microsoft how the Redmond giant has consistently ignored and squandered the design savvy that Ozzie has tried to bring to the table. If you ever wondered why Microsoft's products like Windows and Office are so bloated and underwhelming, while Apple's are almost always wonderful experiences, this analysis will solve that mystery. And you too will wonder how Ozzie could have lasted so long at a company that doesn't believe in design."
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Ray Ozzie Quit... What Took Him So Long?

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  • Pedants, take note. (Score:4, Informative)

    by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:26PM (#33949004)
    This is the very definition of begging the question. They should put that headline in the dictionary as a perfect example of it. If you find someone using "begs the question" to mean "makes me want to ask a question", when you correct them you can point them to this article.
  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:27PM (#33949028)
    I've thought OpenOffice was much better at opening older versions of Word (especially 97 versions) than Office . It seemed something changed after Office 2003. But that's just my perception.
  • Re:Wow.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by TemporalBeing ( 803363 ) <> on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:47PM (#33949302) Homepage Journal

    Yeah. the testing I've done on it shows that Win7 runs nicely on decently old hardware - actually runs better than Vista on the same hardware - provided you turn off the Aero interface. Do you lose visual perks? Sure. But it runs just fine.

    All due to a super huge effort to (i) reduce dependencies, and (ii) eliminate circular dependencies between kernel and user space. The effort started with Vista, and Win7 is a lot farther along. Win8 (whatever it will be) should do better yet. Though I believe that they already got to the point where dependencies only go one way with Win7 - that is, kernel space does not depend on anything in user space as of Win7. (If not Win7, certainly Win8 should be that way.)

  • Re:Wow.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by weicco ( 645927 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:49PM (#33949338)

    The sentence starts with conditional "if" and it looks like a question but has no actual question mark so I'm not sure if that is a question that one should answer or a statement of opinion. But either way it is highly biased sentence. If it's a question then it's a leading one and would be objected if asked in court of law. If it's a statement of opinion then it's biased by definition.

    And no, I have never wondered that exact thing ;)

  • I've thought OpenOffice was much better at opening older versions of Word (especially 97 versions) than Office . It seemed something changed after Office 2003. But that's just my perception.

    OpenOffice writes better Microsoft Office documents than Microsoft Office does. Whether they legacy binary formats, or the newer XML formats. I've taken to using OO Writer for most things, and then ensuring everything is still there when I make the Word version, though it's mostly just the cross-references that I have to redo for some reason.

  • by paulsnx2 ( 453081 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @02:01PM (#33949508)

    When I was there, Microsoft graded every project on a curve, with compensation in the balance. The "lowest" performers got slammed, the peak performs got rich. I imagine nothing has changed, except fewer people get rich.

    Their system of evaluating and compensating developers rewards "hot dogs", who by any standard are good developers, but penalizes cooperation and useful developer documentation. Anything you might do to help someone on your team be successful automatically and in a very measured way hurts your own compensation. Few developers can rise above this and work with others outside of what is necessary to get the appropriate check marks on the review. And when individuals do work closely with each other, they are very selective as to who they work with. You can't afford to make *everyone* on your team successful. Remember, the bell curve WILL be applied.

    Other mechanisms are used at Microsoft are very good. They have a huge commitment to testing, and a huge commitment to process. They know within a few months into a project when they are going to deliver. They know well in advance when projects are going to be late. They research and know the competition.

    However, at the end of the day, their culture does not allow for clean design. Clean design means working together and making it a priority to make all developers on a team as productive as possible. But even if the differences between developers are tiny, the bell curve will be applied. People will win, and people will lose. And don't think for a moment that subjective decisions do not come into play based on a developer's reputation and ties with other developers.

    In the end, if you don't know how something works, don't expect the comments to be useful. Don't be surprised if two interfaces sit next to each other and both do nearly the same thing. Obviously one developer implemented something, and the next couldn't figure out how to use it.

    Microsoft's bloat is mostly a result of their development culture. Sure, supporting ten years of file formats is a factor, but not as important as their development culture, IMHO.

  • Re:Ding dong! (Score:3, Informative)

    by jitterman ( 987991 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @02:45PM (#33950234)
    To be fair, the article does point out that there is a wide gulf between his original concepts and what was actually implemented, in both cases.

    Totally agree with giving Balmer the heave-ho though.
  • by bolivershagnasty ( 1924072 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @02:55PM (#33950386)
    Mr. Ozzie appeared to lose a key battle with Mr. Sinofsky two years ago when control of Live Mesh, a data synchronization technology developed by Mr. Ozzie's team, shifted to the Windows organization at the company. Read more: [] About a year ago, oversight of another initiative Mr. Ozzie was involved in, its Windows Azure cloud computing technology, moved to the server and tools business run by the division's president, Bob Muglia. Read more: []
  • by jgrahn ( 181062 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @03:12PM (#33950682)

    Because people are using their word processors as typesetters. I actually have to keep two copies of TeXLive installed, because some time in the last two years someone tweaked one of the layout algorithms slightly and the result is that a small number of paragraphs have line breaks in different places. Unfortunately, this means that one of the chapters in my second book gets typeset differently with the '08 and '10 editions. If I want to produce changes for the second printing, I have to minimise the number of pages, and a reflow on chapter 4 with the new editions upsets all of the page numbers for subsequent pages, so I have to use the old version.

    I hope that by "someone" you mean "someone at my college/company" because Knuth really, really hates when someone does such changes (there's a tirade on his homepage about a hacked Computer Modern where a certain greek letter got slightly wider).

    If not, you should file a high-importance bug report with TeXLive.

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:14PM (#33952064)

    MS Word's speed is on par with Abiword, although the former has many more features.

    MS Word is vastly faster than Abiword if you're working on a large (and by large, I mean 1000+ pages with complex formatting, indexing, etc.) document. But that's a problem that I run into in a lot of FOSS office apps: it seems like the developers on those projects just never use them the way ordinary users in a business environment use them, so it never comes to their attention how badly they perform on real-world tasks. Granted, the ways Word and particularly Excel are used in most corporate environments are horrifying -- using vast spreadsheets as ad hoc databases, for example -- but that's just the way it is. And just because I don't abuse Excel that way doesn't mean that I don't have to deal with documents from people who do.

    What bothers me most is that Office 97 did everything I needed and then some, and very little that's been added in the meantime has been of any use to me. Office 97 ran very well on a 120MHz Pentium with 16 megs of RAM. What I hoped to see come out of FOSS office software was something like that. Instead, we get OpenOffice, which is at least as bloated as MS Office and actually performs less well in many respects.

    This is why I just can't get into fanboyism. Apple, Microsoft, and the equivalent major applications in the FOSS world all suck. They suck in different ways, and depending on what you're doing, one of the three will suck less than the rest. But whichever you choose will still suck -- and by that, I don't mean the less-than-perfect quibbles we all have with pretty much everything; I mean that you'll be dealing with serious deficiencies. If you complain, Apple will tell you that you don't get it, Microsoft will ignore you, and most FOSS developers will tell you to submit a patch if it bothers you so much.

"Turn on, tune up, rock out." -- Billy Gibbons