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How Microsoft Dropped the Ball With Developers

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the new-vistas dept.

Programming 814

cremou writes "As part of an Ars Technica series on how one developer migrated from Windows to OS X (and why), this second article concentrates on how Microsoft bungled the transition from XP to Vista. The author looks at some unfortunate decisions Microsoft made that have made Windows an unpleasant development platform. 'So Windows is just a disaster to write programs for. It's miserable. It's quite nice if you want to use the same techniques you learned 15 years ago and not bother to change how you do, well, anything, but for anyone else it's all pain... And it's not just third parties who suffer. It causes trouble for Microsoft, too. The code isn't just inconsistent and ugly on the outside; it's that way on the inside, too. There's a lot of software for Windows, a lot of business-critical software, that's not maintained any more. And that software is usually buggy. It passes bad parameters to API calls, uses memory that it has released, assumes that files live in particular hard-coded locations, all sorts of things that it shouldn't do.'"

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Long Answer? (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306530)

Read the article.

Short answer?

Windows!

Re:Long Answer? (5, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306704)

Actually it is more like:

I hate Windows. It robs me of my creative juices.
Because I am creative, you know... man?
So I "Switched".
Now, I code for OS X and every day is a beautiful rainbow for me.

Re:Long Answer? (2, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306776)

You gotta admit, he has a point and illustrates it pretty well.

Re:Long Answer? (4, Funny)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307174)

Exactly. He illustrates it well. That's coming awfully close to being, you know, creative. And creativity is one of the well-known risk factors for becoming a Mac fanboy.

Re-runs (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306548)

Good God how many re-run articles do we have to endure on Slashdot? This flamebait type of article is every 5 minutes.

Slashdot hates America, Religion and Microsoft. We get it already!

Re:Re-runs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306918)

Its a simple procedure.

Buy some apple stock, and then help market it with these articles ;p

Re:Re-runs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307040)

1.
invest equally:
MSFT
AAPL
GOOG
RHT
JAVA

2.
post to slash dot all day

3.
move out of mom's basement!

4.
????!!! (get a girlfriend maybe)

5.
Profit!!!

Yeah, yeah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306552)

We all know win32 sucks the big one... but as a digression - who else has been playing the adobe shooting game in the ad rather than reading the articles?

It's so frickin addictive!

Re:Yeah, yeah (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306576)

Ad?

What is this "ad" of which you speak? Your words are strange to us, visitor.

Re:Yeah, yeah (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307062)

it's kinda like LDAP, there's probably a windoze user around here that's used it.

With those arguements, any platform can suck (5, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306574)

"It passes bad parameters to API calls, uses memory that it has released, assumes that files live in particular hard-coded locations, all sorts of things that it shouldn't do."

Those are basically programming errors, not problems with the API. Don't get me wrong, I find Win32 to be a pain in the ass sometimes, but this article just reeks of flamebait.

Re:With those arguements, any platform can suck (5, Insightful)

Ulfalizer (881975) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306716)

I think you missed the point.

The problem is that many major legacy applications depend on undocumented behavior because they make sloppy use of the Windows API (e.g. by assuming that a particular function will not segfault when passed a bad argument). For those to keep working, newer revisions of the API implementation must have the same undocumented behavior, which causes a maintenance nightmare.

Re:With those arguements, any platform can suck (4, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306942)

No I didn't miss the point. Using an undocumented API is another example of bad programming. Yes, even HAVING undocumented API's is bad as well. Like I said, I was not excusing the mess that is Win32, I was just sayin'...

Re:With those arguements, any platform can suck (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307146)

But I hope we agree that having to use undocumented API calls because it's the only way is the fault of the OS manufacturer, yes?

What part of "Undocumented" is hard to understand? (4, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307122)

The problem is that many major legacy applications depend on undocumented behavior because they make sloppy use of the Windows API (e.g. by assuming that a particular function will not segfault when passed a bad argument). For those to keep working, newer revisions of the API implementation must have the same undocumented behavior, which causes a maintenance nightmare.

So, you problem is that programmers make use of undocumented API calls. While "undocumented" does not always equal "unsupported", using them is just plain stupid. Whether it is Windows, Linux, MS-DOS, DR-DOS, OSux using the system in an undocumented/unsupported way is well, U N S U P P O R T E D. Don't blame the OS or the those that coded it, blame those that wrote against the API in an unsupported way.

RTFA turns out to be a effort in slogging through another of the author's attempts to explain why anyone on Windows is just benighted. He blames HIS short comings on the OS.

Re:What part of "Undocumented" is hard to understa (4, Interesting)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307162)

Because programmers are, you know, just leaving the Windows platform in droves! Because it's annoying to develop on!

(sarcasm off)

Windows has always been annoying to develop on; when you've got the lions share of the market, and the customers want "windows," that where most programmers are, annoying or not.

So maybe they "dropped the ball," I say they never had the ball to drop, and they don't give a crap because if you want to make money, you work on Windows.

Now... how is this different than last year, or the year before, or ten years ago?

Re:With those arguements, any platform can suck (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306726)

"Those are basically programming errors, not problems with the API."

I think you missed the point. For the sake of backwards compatibility, Microsoft supports applications which do all these things, and drags all the associated crap into future versions of Windows so they still run.

For that matter, so do hardware developers: back when I was writing drivers for Windows I had to deliberately put bugs in our code to support applications which only worked because of bugs in the Microsoft versions of the drivers and would crash if we didn't replicate those bugs ourselves. We also spent weeks working around abuse of the API by a certain big computer company that can't program PCs worth a damn (or even, apparently, read API documentation).

Re:With those arguements, any platform can suck (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306904)

I think you missed the point. For the sake of backwards compatibility, Microsoft supports applications which do all these things, and drags all the associated crap into future versions of Windows so they still run.


So what you're saying is Windows has always been bug compatible [foldoc.org] with previous versions.

Re:With those arguements, any platform can suck (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306972)

Pretty much; if they stop supporting old bugs, a lot of old software will break. I'm sure I found an old Windows 3.1 bug in XP some time back, but I can't remember what it was (something to do with driver installation, I think).

Linux, in comparison, provides a fair amount of backwards compatibility, but doesn't have to overly worry because most software comes in source form and can be fixed when a kernel or library change breaks it. Windows doesn't have that option.

Unpleasant developer platform? (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306580)

Having to deal with it everyday; now that's unpleasant.

use the same techniques you learned 15 years ago (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306602)


Umm.. that sounds great.. wtf are you on about? I guess some people just prefer a moving target.

Re:use the same techniques you learned 15 years ag (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306960)

P has a fair question. I mean, I was a great programmer 15 years ago...
Has anything really changed?

DOS/Windows programming culture (4, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306612)

The culture of DOS programming was corrupted from the beginning and you can partly blame IBM for a crappy BIOS. Were it not for the crappy BIOS, programmers wouldn't have had to resort to writing directly to hardware to get an acceptable speed on the screen. And it just kept going on from there. And now when a developer wants more "something" from the OS than they can get naturally, they write VxDs to help gain an advantage.

The culture is all about writing code to get past deficiencies and shortcomings in DOS/Windows.

Windows programmers don't respect the rules... and if they do, they write what appears to be crappy software.

Re:DOS/Windows programming culture (4, Interesting)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306782)

Yes, but making the hardware suck to scrape a couple of pennies off the price didn't help the BIOS. Actually, I blame IBM more for not choosing a better processor than the x86. There were sane architectures out there at the time (e.g., Motorola 68000). A lot of the craptacular nature of the BIOS (not to mention DOS and early Windows programming) came out of that particular decision. But, back then, IBM was a fairly craptacular company anyway. It seems to have improved a bit since then (although, it's hard to tell; with a company the size of IBM, you may be looking at the stern of the oil tanker and everything looks fine, while on the bow, fires are raging).

Re:DOS/Windows programming culture (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307010)

My understanding was that they didn't expect much of the PC market, so they threw together a bunch of cheap parts from other vendors and stamped their name on it. Based on their Apple II CP/M card, they asked MicroSoft for an OS instead of buying or writing one.

Cry babies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306622)

I make my own tools. I don't want for someone to make them for me.

Sounds like the cries of a 2nd year CS student at DeVry.

But what about Steve Ballmer.... (3, Funny)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306628)

I don't get it, something is wrong with TFA...
http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-1668365808879026423&q=steve+ballmer+developers&ei=uqUfSOa1E4-e-QH96bHPAQ&hl=en [google.ca]
Developers Developers Developers Developers...
Developers Developers Developers Developers...
Developers Developers Developers Developers...
Developers Developers Developers Developers...
Developers Developers Developers Developers...
Developers Developers Developers Developers...
Developers Developers Developers Developers...
Developers Developers Developers Developers...
Developers Developers Developers Developers...

how much MS bashing can you fit in? (3, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306634)

"And that software is usually buggy. It passes bad parameters to API calls, uses memory that it has released, assumes that files live in particular hard-coded locations, all sorts of things that it shouldn't do.'"

and this has exactly what to do with MS? the coding habits of programmers has NOTHING to do with MS.

Re:how much MS bashing can you fit in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306740)

and this has exactly what to do with MS? the coding habits of programmers has NOTHING to do with MS.

Indeed, this is not MS's fault. But they're stuck holding the ball, trying to maintain backwards compatibility with programmer errors. And it is one of the many reasons their APIs suck.

Re:how much MS bashing can you fit in? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307054)

Well, they got rich by being all about the status quo, didn't they? IBM made an attempt to move the legacy customers to OS/2, and MS was 100% on board for that, but when the drones said "just rev windows again", MS complied.

-jcr

Re:how much MS bashing can you fit in? (4, Interesting)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306770)

well, it does indirectly but not as blatantly as the article would have one believe. Don't forget that if the API's were properly designed to begin with, it would have been impossible to give invalid parameters to the function or allow the use memory that has been released.

I have no idea what hes on about with the hard-pathed file references.

The problem is so many corporate coders back in the day (and still) would use whatever shortcuts they could within the api including "undocumented features" like the former two issues. If Microsoft were to fix these issues without compatibility for these "features", it would break tons of legacy applications. Therefore, ongoing developing must include these already-incorrectly-designed portions of the API as well as whatever they really want to be working on.

Just because a company does something poorly to begin with and people adapted to it, doesnt mean the company isnt to blame for the issues.

Course that doesnt make this article NOT a flaming pile of rhetoric, it just makes it slightly less than complete and utter bullshit.

Re:how much MS bashing can you fit in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306910)

Therefore, ongoing developing must include these already-incorrectly-designed portions of the API as well as whatever they really want to be working on.

That as the focus of the article might have been interesting to me. As it was, I completely missed how OpenFile, System32, and bad dev habits add up to dropping the ball. The only interesting part seemed to be the bit about Ribbon - a very recent feature which it sounds like is undergoing some sort of ongoing integration process into the API set.

It would seem to have been a more valuable link once they published part three so we could all enjoy the full scope of the argument on hand. As it was, it seems too shallow to be of much interest.

Re:how much MS bashing can you fit in? (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306930)

it's only just better then total bullshit though. using his own benchmarks linux is a piece of crap for dropping features, and we should bash it for each any every poorly coded OSS project (believe me there is a LOT)

Re:how much MS bashing can you fit in? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307132)

People seem to be missing this particular point. He's not bashing Microsoft for third parties writing poor software. He's bashing them for accepting it, making it easy for them to screw up (or hard not to screw up), and never taking decent steps forward for fear of breaking third party crapware.

Re:how much MS bashing can you fit in? (2, Interesting)

glebd (586769) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306856)

Windows includes myriads of patches to adapt to buggy third-party applications and just make them work. I don't know of any other OS that chooses to silently ignore application bugs or modifies API behaviour to avoid crashing defective applications. So if an application is used or manufactured by a major business entity and is buggy, unsupported, or programmed by lazy/incompetent developers, chances are MS has one or two fixes for its bugs _permanently_ built right into Windows. Because if old and unsupported applications stop working in the next version of Windows, chances are MS will lose customers to other platforms. Application compatibility is the only thing that ensures continuous market share of Windows. MS is prepared to break the OS to support buggy and old third-party code. Now tell me how does all this improve your confidence in the quality of the Windows platform.

Re:how much MS bashing can you fit in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307156)

That's an interesting statement to make against Vista which makes some hard quality choices that seem to stand in sharp contrast to your contentions. DEP and UAC seem to favor platform quality over buggy old third-party code. Could you clarify your specific references here?

Quoted out of context (1)

Santana (103744) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307114)

You purposefully quoted the author out of context, deleting precisely the text surrounding it that makes sense of it. Before the sentences you quoted the article says:

And it's not just third parties who suffer. It causes trouble for Microsoft, too.

Which means that we're about to read about how the terrible API design and general bad experience has bitten Microsoft itself. Then comes the sentences you quoted:

And that software is usually buggy. It passes bad parameters to API calls, uses memory that it has released, assumes that files live in particular hard-coded locations, all sorts of things that it shouldn't do.

And after that:

If the OS changes underneath--to prohibit the reuse of freed memory, to more aggressively validate parameters, to stick more closely to the documentation without making extra assumptions or causing special side-effects--then these programs break.

Since you obviously missed the point, I'm explaining it to you:

Making bad decisions has bitten Microsoft too because if for example they were setting the API design straight, a lot of programs written using bad practices allowed by the badly designed API and that people depend on for every day work would break . Therefore they can't fix their mistakes. They are trapped in the same hole they dug.

That reminds me the OpenBSD experience some years ago, when they enforced heap protection mechanisms [slashdot.org] and many bad coded programs crashed. But OpenBSD can afford it, and actually benefited the rest of the open source users.

So what? (2)

bobwrit (1232148) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306640)

OS's come and go. You cannot be the top dog forever. You have to fail sometime. Maybe,just maybe, it's time for Microsoft. Does that make me a apple fan boy? NO. Does it mean that it's Mac OS's turn? Not nessicarily. People need to learn that. ---(this is my signature)

Mac zealot hates Windows, news at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306644)

I'm sure his next article will be all about how his iPhone is the greatest phone ever made, and how AppleTV rocks, and how his Macbook Air is so thin he can fit it in an envelope. This hype and "grassroots" marketing shit, all promoted and paid for by Apple, gets boring VERY quickly.

As a dev who makes his living writing for .Net... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306660)

I am 'this' close to jumping ship. I use Ubuntu on machines at home and find it fast and clean, even on older hardware.

I have access to all MS software as our MSDN and Gold Certified Partner plan administrator. I have tried Vista on a couple machines. Even on a brand new Dell dual core laptop with 2 gigs of ram, it was sluggish and still could not use the full aero interface. Yet I installed Ubuntu on a 4 year old 600m with 512MB ram and got a full interface with snappy performance.

I don't need aero to develop code. The features I was most interested in all got cut from Vista... most notably the filesystem upgrades. Now add frequent updates to the framework that require $1200 software packages to use to the fullest extent. Then add the insane cost of a legit SQL Server license on which to deploy it. Plus as a domain admin, I find the administration to be a drag. And I still don't trust them for a second on security. It all adds up to a monumental drag.

I am a frustrated .Net developer. I don't know that it is that much better on the other side of the fence frankly, at least as far of the coding environments go. But I KNOW for a fact that I prefer linux to Windows.

Re:As a dev who makes his living writing for .Net. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306692)

i smell some bullshit here. the poster doesn't even touch on development. what a troll.

Re:As a dev who makes his living writing for .Net. (1)

korbin_dallas (783372) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306760)

He also seems to indicate that his company PAYS FOR ALL THE MSDN and TOOLS.

THATS what will kill M$, charging a GD bloody fortune for the compiler, docs, and tools. Its up to what now $3000 per year per seat.

And yeah, I purposely ignore the pirate copies and the 'educational institutional copies' because if you are a business, then you should pay. As a pro developer, I refuse to pay that kind of money to legally write windows apps.

Re:As a dev who makes his living writing for .Net. (1, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306876)

Are you mad? The compiler itself is free with the platform (.NET Framework in its bin folder has programs called CSC and VBC. Run them sometime). The documentation is free to access. Visual Studio itself can be bought and paid for at anywhere between $500 and $1000 depending on the edition you want.

MSDN is just an added bonus because it gives access to every development oriented Microsoft product in existence, including Operating Systems, Servers, and Office. That sort of stuff for that price ($1000 or so I believe) is pretty good really.

I should probably also add that you can also write Windows apps for free using compilers like GCC and cygwin or similar, and IDEs like Eclipse - if you don't want to use Microsoft tools. It isn't necessary and never has been to use Visual Studio to make Windows apps.

Or to sum up the parent poster... "troll troll troll, troll troll troll troll".

Re:As a dev who makes his living writing for .Net. (5, Informative)

glassware (195317) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306894)

I want to second this concept. Back in 1998, when I started a company of my own, I insisted that my partners and I purchase a $500 MSDN license so we could do current development on Microsoft platforms.

In 2004, when I joined a company that was well funded by venture capitalists, they required that I cost-justify the $2000 MSDN license cost. I argued that we were developing consumer applications and we needed the license.

In 2007, I can no longer justify $3500ish for MSDN. It just doesn't work anymore. They offer reduced versions of MSDN, each of which eliminates all the reasons why a person would subscribe to MSDN. They offer only 10 application installs for your $3500. They offer only a few OS installs. After you've installed a few, they stop letting you install more development copies and insist that you call them for more authorization. It just doesn't work anymore, and I'm sad because I really liked being able to develop code without artificial roadblocks in my path.

Re:As a dev who makes his living writing for .Net. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306900)

The compiler, docs and tools are free. No, not the-business-buys-MSDN-free, completely 100% download it right now free. The completely functional optimizing commandline compilers for C++, C# and VB are freely downloadable. The IDE with most designer support and full debugger support is freely downloadable. The entire documentation set is available online, for free. You can use these free tools to write applications and then sell them.

http://www.microsoft.com/express/ [microsoft.com]

Why is it that you think that MS tools cost $3000/seat/year? If you want the most expensive of all possible developer packages, then sure, it will cost some cash. But unless you're running a large enterprise and want to use MS's brand of application lifecycle management and source control, you DO NOT NEED to pay that.

And you've never, ever had to pay a cent to Microsoft to legally develop or deploy a commercial application on Windows. Stop spreading FUD you dumb fucking retard.

Re:As a dev who makes his living writing for .Net. (1)

Zehuti (947656) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306986)

You seem to forget there are express versions of Visual Studio that let you do most everything except enterprise level data access.

Re:As a dev who makes his living writing for .Net. (1)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306696)

.Net is portable to *nix.

Same techniques 15 years ago? Not just Windows... (5, Funny)

Goody (23843) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306662)

It's quite nice if you want to use the same techniques you learned 15 years ago and not bother to change how you do, well, anything

Apparently the author never heard of vi and gcc on Linux...

Re:Same techniques 15 years ago? Not just Windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306902)

Huh? I can write beautiful, modern, OO code with Vim, GCC, and Qt.

Re:Same techniques 15 years ago? Not just Windows. (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307060)

If you are developing open source applications with Qt, then you can use the open source release. If you are writing a commercial application, then you have to purchase a license.

Re:Same techniques 15 years ago? Not just Windows. (1)

IdeaMan (216340) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307188)

And I can build a road with just 1 shovel!
Who needs a steenking bulldozer?

That you can say that and be proud of it should cause your geek card to spontaneously catch on fire. I was an embedded systems engineer, and I tended to use a different development environment for each project; so I know nasty bug-ridden incomplete environments. That you can stick with an ugly environment like that is mind-boggling.

Re:Same techniques 15 years ago? Not just Windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306916)

"Apparently the author never heard of vi and gcc on Linux..."

Perhaps, but it's hard to improve on perfection.

*ducks*

Re:Same techniques 15 years ago? Not just Windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307030)

vi and gcc are tools more than techniques. I guess he's talking about design patterns and languages.

But Don't You Mean... (2, Funny)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306674)

How Microsoft Dropped the Ball With... Developers Developers Developers *insert techno beat* Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers?

Re:But Don't You Mean... (4, Funny)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306806)

*dhut* *dhut* *dhut* The System is Down! The System is Down! The System is Down"! *dhut* *dhut* *dhut*

How can this be? (0, Redundant)

AnotherBrian (319405) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306678)

But Steve Ballmer made such a wonderfully eloquent speech about them he loves them.

I even found this video of it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMU0tzLwhbE [youtube.com]

DRIVERS: MS POOCH SCREWING (-1, Troll)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306688)

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC DEPICTIONS OF MICROSOFT RAPING POOCHES FOR THEIR OWN PERCIEVED GAIN. DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE AVERSE TO GRAPHIC CONTENT OR EASILY ANGERED BY MICROSOFTS WANTON COCKMONGERING STUPIDITY.

The biggest issue is Vista drivers. And its not simply hardware people that need drivers, theres a huge base of software that relies on installing system level devices that perform various things Windows is simply unable to do itself.

MS really fucked the pooch particularly gruesomely in this department
1. Device driver development kits got shipped only at the 25th hour
2. DDK availability was low then and is low now. You have to like red tape and receiving anal sex to play this game anymore.
3. Oh yeah, DDK is now useless.

#3 is really where things get EXTRA DOUBLE Microsoft pooch screwing special. See, because Microsoft wanted a DRM safe platform the only way to secure the OS was to make only certified secure drivers able to run on the OS. Whereas before MS certification just a big roadblock most people just went around (see: not fans of pooch screwing), now its totally mandatory with no exceptions.

My favorite example of how badly customers get fucked by MS's great love of pooch rear ends is the RBC9 SpaceNavigator driver. Some enthusiast saw that the badass 6 degree of freedom controller from 3dconnexion was a) basically useless for anything these jerk offs didnt write a driver for yet b) is /nearly/ just a straight usb joystick device. Likely using the old DDK and making by his own confession very few changes he turned this sweet piece of hardware from something that can only be used with the handful of apps the jerk offs built the controller to support, to a universally accessible wonder controler you can use to stomp the crap out of people in gears of war and freespace 2 with.

Theres just one problem. Theres not a snowballs chance in hell there will ever be a not-totally-fucking trash 64 bit driver for this awesome controller. 3dconnexion thinks their business is selling shitty proprietary software when in fact all we want is a hardware company, they're to freaking drunk on software sales to write something actually useful for their hardware and have no interest in doing so. On the other hand, RBC9, who wrote this sweet driver, has no way of a) getting a new DDK for Vista 64, and b) distributing the driver in usable form if he DID get a DDK.

I largely suspect Adobe's similar pooch abuse related activities regarding availability of 64 bit flash relates to the above circle jerks. Its been nearly 3 years and they still dont have a Flash that runs on 10% of the world's Windows IE.

MS bent hte customer and developer and the pooch over backwards to produce Vista. I really hope it takes them a while to clean all the gore off their dicks when they're done.

link drop / references:

vista drm:
http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html [auckland.ac.nz]
rbc9 3dconnexion pooching clusterfsck:
http://www.3dconnexion.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=336&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=390&sid=8207b7e5a2e2949040a86ba9c6c31e1d [3dconnexion.com]

Re:DRIVERS: MS POOCH SCREWING (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307016)

This is just so full of bullshit. First off, only 64-bit versions of Windows will refuse to load unsigned drivers.

Second of all the driver needs to be signed by the developer of the driver, not Microsoft.

Third of all, the DDK (now called the WDK) can be downloaded using the directions on this page [microsoft.com] (no pooch screwing necessary!)

Fourth of all, that Guttman diatribe has been refuted at least 5 times, yet it still comes up. For the love of all that's holy, stop trotting it out already. Find something actually researched and up to date!

But give them credit where credit is due... (5, Interesting)

crt (44106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306700)

Microsoft has dropped the ball in a number of areas, particularly with regard to user-interface APIs which this article focuses mostly on, but in other ways it is far and away the easiest platform to develop for - mainly because of the quality of their development tools. Having done lots of development across Windows, Mac, and Linux with all kinds of editors, IDEs and debuggers, nothing comes close to Visual Studio in terms of functionality, quality, and just being solid. It's not perfect, but it's way better than anything else out there. For that reason alone Microsoft deserves some kudos from developers.

Re:But give them credit where credit is due... (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306804)

Having done lots of development across Windows, Mac, and Linux with all kinds of editors, IDEs and debuggers, nothing comes close to Visual Studio in terms of functionality, quality, and just being solid. It's not perfect, but it's way better than anything else out there. For that reason alone Microsoft deserves some kudos from developers.

Agree with this 100%. (Although I can admit I don't have much exposure to anything you'd use for Mac development that isn't also available on Windows or Linux, e.g. Eclipse.)

I don't love everything or even most things about Windows, but spending more of my work time on the interesting parts of the problem and less time fighting with my IDE or other dev tools is worth a lot to me.

Re:But give them credit where credit is due... (2, Insightful)

pebs (654334) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306908)

nothing comes close to Visual Studio in terms of functionality, quality, and just being solid

Are you using the same Visual Studio I am? Because the one I use may have some decent functionality that you'd expect from an IDE, despite being crippled by a lousy interface (with some exceptions, they do some things very nicely). But when you're used to using Eclipse, Visual Studio feels like a cheap, buggy toy. I use both at my day job. I would never use Visual Studio unless paid to do so. Eclipse I use for fun on my hobby projects.

Yes, there are much worse IDE's than Visual Studio, but that doesn't mean its good.

Re:But give them credit where credit is due... (1)

vandit2k6 (848077) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306964)

Maybe its just me that I am new to Visual Studio. But having done a lot of work with Eclipse/MyEclipse before I can not say Visual Studio is all that great. But again maybe its just me and my lack of knowledge in Visual Studio.

Re:But give them credit where credit is due... (3, Insightful)

nojomofo (123944) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307068)

Holy shit, you've got to be kidding me! Even VS 2008 needs Resharper to even be close to Eclipse in functionality. Have you ever used a different IDE?

"one developer" (5, Interesting)

Whitemice (139408) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306702)

"how one developer migrated from Windows to OS X"

That pretty much says it all: "one developer"

The argument about old krufty code in Windows and the Win32 API has been around since.... the Win16 API! It didn't really seem to slow down Win32.

On the flip side is the argument that the need for backwards compatibility is holding back Windows - yet developers complain about the migration from XP to Vista?

All smells like we-will-find-anyway-to-condemn-Windows to me. Note: I do all of my development on LINUX, so I'm not a Windows booster. I think lots about Windows just stinks but there is an issue of credibility here.

If you want a clean new coherent API and you want to develop on Windows Microsoft has provided an option: .NET

Re:"one developer" (2, Interesting)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306762)

From TFA, he claims that .NET is neither clean nor coherent, i.e., that MS squandered an opportunity.

Re:"one developer" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306862)

What's up with all the Microsoft apologists not reading The Fine Article? Are they employees or something?

Re:"one developer" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307190)

You talk of credibility but comment on an article you obviously didn't read. Good work.

Cult of Backward Compatibility (4, Insightful)

clintp (5169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306714)

The False God of Backward Compatibility has Microsoft by the short hairs. Even new programming environments like .Net have Win32, Win16, and DOS lurking right around the corner. There's no fresh start anywhere in the Microsoft environment, everything reeks of DOS.

Which would have been find if DOS (Win16, Win32, etc..) were a multi-platform, extensible OS to begin with -- but it wasn't. It was a quick hack that lives on and on.

I'm a developer that works primarily in Windows, with 15 years of heavy-hitting Unix programming experience behind me.

Re:Cult of Backward Compatibility (1)

sien (35268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306940)

Yeah. All that false god ever got them was 95% of the desktop operating system market.....

Microsoft did have a multi-platform extensible OS, Xenix [wikipedia.org] but it wasn't what the market wanted.

You never know, perhaps their monopoly will be broken, but you would not bet on it.

Re:Cult of Backward Compatibility (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307036)

Were exactly do you find remnants of dos in .net? And as everyone older than 16 remembers, Windows NT 4.0 ran on alphas. I escaped the windows prison years ago. It sucks eggs. You don't need to make up stuff up.

Re:Cult of Backward Compatibility (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307066)

I don't work with VisualStudio, but I remember reading documentation [microsoft.com] that it takes a toggle of one property to compile a 64-bit application instead of a 32-bit application.

If Win64 were radically different from Win32, that simply wouldn't happen.

Having said that, didn't the 64-bit versions of Windows drop support for Win16?

Re:Cult of Backward Compatibility (4, Insightful)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307160)

It's not a false god, not when you're coding for a business that has to meet both regulators and profitability expectations.

Code written for Windows 95/NT (back in 1996) still works today on the Windows platform. 12 years later.

Try that with System 7 code on OS X.

Yes, this is part of why writing business-logic code sucks. You seldom get to just re-write anything to be really, truly good instead of something perennially built-upon and increasingly hacked-together. No one will pay for a change that doesn't deliver "business value". (And no, greater stability/performance is almost never enough, as that argument usually demands an associated headcount reduction) But at least the app still works and can continue to deliver. And since some will doubt, yes, I do maintain/enhance such code.

The market speaks - this sort of backwards compatibility is a conscious choice by MS, and it does sell their OS. Not concidentially, it also sells mainframes and *UX systems. And I'm convinced it's one of the big reasons Apple isn't bigger in the corporate world. Steve's demands for newer/better/faster totally supplanting the old are well known, and rightly feared.

Developers? (0)

ralf1 (718128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306730)

Developers!! Developers!! Developers!! Developers!! Developers!! Developers!!

(insert sweat stains here)

What Problem? ;) (1)

kmsigel (306018) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306758)

My standard requirement when doing Windows programming is that the API must have existed since Windows 95 and Windows NT 3.51. Once or twice I have used a particularly handy API that started with 95/NT4, but that's as "recent" as I've ever gone. A surprising number of my users are still on 95 (or its ugly sisters, 98 and ME). I find that it just isn't worth the effort to try to use some "new" API feature, even if compatability with old Windows flavors wasn't a concern.

Developers is really the wrong word (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306768)

Microsoft has real marketing and purchasing power.
Developers are not really needed if you just want
re package an acquisition and get it in a box year after year.

Microsofts real skill is to push an older product
they have total control over.
Or diminish the appeal of any emerging product.
Embrace and extend what you need, extinguish the rest.

Glory days are here (4, Interesting)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306774)

Despite what's underneath Windows, programming it through the .NET platform is very slick. Most of what had to classically be linked to in obscure ways is wrapped in the Framework Class Library. Most people complain it's large but after you learn the basic structure you can find immediately what you need using the documentation. Microsoft has also abstracted away the trickyness of DLLs and you can program against mostly any functionality using your language of choice [dotnetpowered.com] .

When articles claim Microsoft dropped the ball I think it's more wishful thinking than anything, because Windows programmers are in their Enterprise glory days right now, no longer restricted to VB and half-assed object models. Not anymore. We now have full OO features and much much more, and Java is playing cathup feature-wise. It's nice for a change.

I don't care how messy Microsoft's underlying code is, as long as they've tested it and ensure it works enough for me to program against it. The Microsoft security updates help a lot too. They're very frequent which means there are a lot of security flaws but they take care of them quickly (I'm sure I will get numerous examples where they didn't take care of security quickly but if you're on Windows update you see them coming thought all the time).

Re:Glory days are here (3, Interesting)

ronark (803478) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307128)

Sorry, but I must disagree with you. I program daily with .NET at work, and the number of times a P/Invoke is required to get advanced functionality is simply shocking. Not to mention the fact that despite the claim of being purely an object oriented framework, many parts of its design spit in the face of OO. I'm not talking about rarely used classes either. File, Directory, Math, Convert, Encoding, to name a few major players, cannot be instanced as they are declared static. How this is different from a simple function in C is beyond me. .NET might have a few things going for it (though the more I use it the harder they are to remember), but slickness is not one of them. Microsoft dropped the ball with .NET.

COM - VB 6 redux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306780)

The .NET library does work. It more or less has all the main pieces you need, but it's full of areas where you have to deal, directly or indirectly, with the obsolescent mediocrity of Win32.

Many years ago I read a book on developing VB COM components by a guy named Ted Pattison, who worked for the DevelopMentor training outfit at the time. I remember thinking, in other words, in order to develop these widgets in VB you have to be as knowledgeable and tenacious as a C++ COM developer... and then have to deal with rinky dink syntax and get (dis)respected like a VB developer! It was the worst of both worlds.

I guess that part hasn't changed much.

MS should follow Apple? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306794)

What exactly is this guy recommending? He trumpets Apple for overhauling their platform and releasing a rapid succession of new OSes in order to advance the platform, which retaining absolutely no backwards compatibility. Meanwhile, Microsoft releases new runtimes for it's existing platforms, not requiring the purchase of a new OS, meanwhile retaining nearly full legacy support. How many 10 year old applications can you run on a new Macintosh right now, without relying on third-party emulators? You can count them on no hands. However, you can run the majority of 10, 15 and 20 year old Windows applications on Windows Vista.

And to claim that .NET is hobbled due to Win32 is just silly. He targets WinForms specifically, which, sure, is a wrapper around Win32. But to claim that you need to know Win32 to program WinForms is just ludicrous. It makes me think that he's never programmed for either platform. WinForms hides the details of Win32 a great deal, and it's very rare to ever have to rely on platform invoke calls. And if WinForms is such a problem, why not use Gtk#? Or WPF? .NET is not one monotonous entity, and there are several UI libraries.

He complains that the Win32 API for finding a file size requires you to deal with two 32-bit values, stating that on Win64 that it should return a 64-bit value instead. Well, if he wasn't such an idiot, he could use the newer version of that same API which does return a 64-bit value, on Win32 and Win64.

All this dumb shit seems to do is claim that the platform should be constantly broken, because that would be the most convenient for him. If you think that the developer experience on Windows is bad then I posit that you've never programmed before, for any platform, ever. Either that or you are a fucking retard who has failed so badly as trying to hack together code that you're only possible saving grace is to write an inflammatory article and try to eek a living out of click ads.

It's actually kind of funny watching retards like this rant. They have no clue what they're talking about yet they are so sure that the problem must be something other than themselves. Fuckwits like this make it much easier for me to find work cleaning up after their garbage, and make a small fortune doing so.

Hey! I like it, but I use the Win32 API (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306796)

And compared to, well, Linux, it's a masterpiece. Linux tools (that c/c++ compiler) are, well, out of the 80s for sure. It's so backward it makes me feel like a, well, commie ruskie! Not that commie ruskies didn't do some good stuff (great ejection seat technology, for one), but I don't want to be made to feel like one.

Win32 API is not dshow and d3d and the other middleware crap with a god-awful black-box interface, the kind that might do well for those that can, well, memorize what to do but have no inkling of why they are doing it. Stick to the basics, and if you have decent tools, and a good head, and skill, and experience, well, it works.

Know one thing. Most programmers, aren't. I seem them all the time. I wouldn't trust them to run a lawn mower (but would let them cut mine, well, if they did it for free).

Compatibility... (1)

etinin (1144011) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306808)

The problem is Microsoft's policy to keep compatibility with software made for DOS/Windows 3.11... In my opinion, they'll only be able (not that I think they'll do it properly) to really get rid of the old API and create a new one would be by abandoning binary compatibility, which they might do in the next version of Windows. Keeping 2 APIs (*cough* .NET, which also isn't a great deal) would also be redundant and would require lots of maintenance efforts, killing all old crap is the only way to go.

Amen brother!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306812)

It's quite nice if you want to use the same techniques you learned 15 years ago and not bother to change how you do, well, anything...

15 years ago, an essay or exposition written for a website would have been all on a single page that you scrolled through. Nowadays though, folks like you know that pumping adviews is FAR more important that ANY content or opinion that someone like you can offer. NOTHING says "Boy, I must really know what I'm talking about" like having to load a new page every couple of paragraphs.

Perhaps Peter Bright should jump back into the useless fuck circle-jerk with kdawson, Steve Gibson, Jack Thompson and Roland Piquepaille and leave those of us who want CONTENT alone.

Marijuana should be legal in America, GOV fucks U! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306822)

Of course the big alcohol pushing companies don't want marijuana legal, neither does the DEA or other law enforcement agencies which would lose the millions or billions of dollars of funding. And look at all of those properties and cars which peaceful marijuana smokers and growers would retain rather than have seized for growing a flowering weed.

Marijuana remains illegal in the "Land of the free" because people remain apathetic, they fear their government, they are afraid to march and protest for fear they will be added to COPLINK (google it for info.) or some other database and be fingered for something.

"WE THE PEOPLE" and "Land of the free" are nothing now, the government rules the U.S., and the fight for marijuana's legalization is one small proof.

Plenty of people take garlic or other herbs for medicinal reasons, and cook with them and use them for other reasons too. But how many people say, "Medical garlic?" even when it has medical uses? We shouldn't have to legalize "medical marijuana", we should legalize MARIJUANA. It makes no difference why or how its used, as long as the user isn't harming anyone else.

Play some Bill Hicks videos (see YouTube) and open your eyes.

You are being played. The war on drugs is a joke which benefits big Pharma, DEA, and other involved governmental forces of oppression. Marijuana remains schedule I with no medical beneifts which is a crock of shit!

How can you stand for this? Why do you continue to allow the federal government to control your life?

Why does alcohol and tobacco remain legal but marijuana illegal?

Does NORML even matter anymore, or is their slow progress in legalizing marijuana just proof they were infiltrated and scuttled by law enforcement long ago and rendered ineffective? After all, they failed to support Jack Herer's collection of signatures this year for the voters to eventually vote in California to legalize marijuana for any use and provide amnesty to those arrested for its use or possession. I thought NORML was *for* marijuana's legalization, yet they failed to back Jack Herer's efforts, which raises a red flag in my opinion.

Some painkillers, like Opiate derivitive pain killers which are prescription only have liver-destroying additives included to discourage so-called abuse. These are also addictive and are big money makers for big Pharma and others who enforce their use. Big Pharma are the real drug dealers in America, with one organization protecting them.

Google LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and check Google News for marijuana, and you'll see story after story about marijuana growers being busted, the war against marijuana IS BIG BUSINESS FOR THE GOVERNMENT and WE THE PEOPLE lose!

It's all about a control of your perception, marijuana allows for a change of perception, along with some other schedule I drugs. They want to control what you think, and remain rich off your misery.

Let's make a bet... (1)

prxp (1023979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306826)

on how many "developers developers developers" jokes are gonna pop up here? I say at least 10...

uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306844)

Windows has the most apps and coders. Therefore Windows also has the most crap apps and crap coders.

Get it?

Geez.

In other news.. (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306858)

how one developer migrated from Windows to OS X

In other news, the number of OS X developers increased by 33.33% since 2007. Is 2008 the Year of OS X Development? More at 11!

Inconsistencies (1, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306868)

I'm not exactly what you'd call a hardcore developer (I make games, not Applications), nor am I in any way familiar with developing on Mac OS X, but this article definitely seemed pretty inconsistent.

For those of you who CBA to RTFA, FYI here's a small summary of it:

It starts off saying there's basically 3 kinds of developers, 2 kinds that don't care what the code does as long as it works and 1 kind that cares deeply about "doing it right". It then says that this kind of developer doesn't matter because it's all hobbyists anyway. It says the first 2 kinds just want to get the job done and don't particularly want to or care to learn anything new to do it.

Next, the article has a complete bitchfest about the .Net framework. Nothing new there, but it's main complaint is that it's meant to be a shiny, new API, but it's roots are still buried deep within the old API's of Win32.

Then it bitches a bit about said Win32 API, but it's main point is that you don't learn anything new, it's just the same thing you've been doing "for the last 15 years", as the summary points out.

Then, curiously, it states that this suits the first two kinds of developer just fine and this is where I get a bit confused. It's trying to bitch about the framework, it's trying to point out how it's flawed, but all it's really done is point out that it works just fine for the only developers that (in the article's own words) "matter".

This leads me to the conclusion that the author really was just trying to start a flame war but instead of coming up with a reasonable argument (Of which, on the Windows platform, there are many - just like any other), he sort of just throws in a few keywords, rambles on without re-reading what he's wrote and then finishes it off by bitching about some of the quirks of the platform, quirks that are only there because people REFUSE to do anything different than what they've been doing for the last 15 years.

In other words, he's blaming Microsoft for catering to lazy, underpaid developers.

Does that make them the bad guys? Not if you've got a multi-million $$$ business to run and want to keep costs to a minimum so you can give yourself a big raise at the end of the year.

This is dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306880)

He only made two valid points: Windows is hindered by design decisions made 20+ years ago, and many of the APIs are inconsistent. The rest of his complains basically boil down to lazy developers, a problem not specific to any platform. Yawn.

Sun did something right with Java (0, Offtopic)

thammoud (193905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306896)

The ability to simply run your Java code under 32 and/or 64 bit versions of the VM without recompiling and without the silly 32/64 prefixes/suffixes attached to the API is simply priceless. Good job Sun.

Author is misleading at best.... (4, Interesting)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306898)

No concept of what .NET really is, misleading users.

No mention or acknowledgement of WPF/WCF or the new APIs that are and 'set' to replace Win32/Win64

Completely misleads users about API concepts and features of OS X compared to Windows, for example XAML/XPS concepts compared to Display Postscript is a massive difference in display technologies that are part of the new Windows API sets, that Carbon or Cocoa cannot provide to developers. (Go to Channel 10 and watch videos on why XAML/XPS was created and how it trumps every aspect of other display/print technologies. - Let alone how it is an integrated aspect of the video API system in Vista, making programming freaky simple for advanced features and new UI platforms like 3D.)

The author then jumps into UI consistency with dialog wording, and doesn't mention OS Xs lack of keyboard support, consistency of delete/backspace or 100 other things more important than dialog wording which is also NOT PART of Win32 inherently.

Author doesn't realize Microsoft and IBM wrote most of the GUI and UI guidelines that OS X even uses today.

Office 2007 is a new direction in GUI paradigms, and is WELL accepted in the business world. Not something to make fun of when OS X is still using old MENU (textual word lists) concepts. Menus were a hack to make features available in a GUI context, but are a draw back to non-graphical UIs. Vista and Office 2007 moving away from word lists (MENUS) is the right direction, too bad Apple isn't innovating on UI and just keeps throwing the same UI slop at users and telling them it is good. (And don't even mention multi-touch UI, go watch the freaking TED conferences Apple ripped the ideas off from several years ago, let alone the MS multi-touch work that also preceded the TED conference. MS Research has and is doing more with UI than any other think tank in the world.)

Author also totally ignores Adobe not providing any 64bit support for OS X because Apple dropped the ball on Carbon x64bit support that has been promised forever from Apple. In contrast 64bit development on Windows in both Win32/Win64 and .NET/WPF is easy, transparent and has clear and easy paths for migration. (Let alone OS X is still a hybrid 64bit OS, using 32bit code throughout the OS, unlike Vista x64)

So for 'real developers' like Adobe (OS X) is a failure, and has failed paths. Which means if you want a 64bit version of Adobe products, you will have to move to Windows for the peformance and benefits. Oh, how brilliant Apple and OS X is...

This brings up the horrid Carbon/Cocoa platforms and migration paths, and even then not even touching on the development tool constrast between the two platforms.

I challenge Mr. Bright to a real debate on the topics covered, maybe he can try to justify some of his misleading and outrageous claims.

Re:Author is misleading at best.... (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307102)

Not something to make fun of when OS X is still using old MENU (textual word lists) concepts.

Ok, I'm not a developer, and haven't studied GUI design to any degree of expertise - but what is the problem with menus?

I would have thought the goal was unambiguous communication of options - word lists if chosen with care should be the lease ambiguous choice to perform this function as icons etc... are far more open to interpretation - especially where there are fine graduations between options (e.g. Print, Print Preview & Page Setup or Save & Save As.)

This is a genuine question and not an attempt to mock.

Kill vb6... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306922)

I know a lot of vb guys were pissed over that.
Some got over it and went on to .net but others quit microsoft as an environment.

And i know some who are mad that microsoft charges them $1,000 for software but charges their competitors in china and india under $100. So they are looking for environments that cost the same in both locations.

So Microsoft has jumped the shark, then (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306928)

So Microsoft has jumped the shark, then... The question is "when was that"...

Windows programming (5, Insightful)

buss_error (142273) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306968)

Back before my current gig, I was a software developer for companies that hired me to do their work and for several packages I wrote for my own profit. This story comes from the programs I developed for my own profit.

Because the software I wrote was also licensed for source code if the user wanted it, I picked Visual Basic as the platform to use. I wanted to use Visual C, but you could more easly find programmers that could get by in Visual Basic than VC. I should have picked VC rather than VB for a lot of reasons, the main one being that if you had experience in VC, you were at least likely not to be a total idiot. Not so with VB. I found that VB programmers were idiots at the approximate rate of 7:10, while VC programmers were likely to be idiots at an estimated 1:10 ratio... which isn't to say that all VB programmers were idiots, only that they were cheaper labor, and therefore less likely to have a solid background in programming logic.

That said, we'll focus only on my own development problems, just so we are dealing with only one (possible) idiot... me. I started out with VB 2.x. The upgrade to 3.x went fine, with very few problems. When 4.0 came out, I found I had to rewrite about 20% of my code. Sure, there were conversion programs, but they didn't quite fit in with exactly what I wanted the program to do. It'd get it about 90% right, but then I'd have to slog through the rest of the automated code to correct that last 10%. It was faster to discard that code and re-write it.

Then 5.x came out. Only about 50% of my code still worked. And again, the automated process to "ease" transisition left something to be desired. When Visual Studio 6.0 came out, it was a nightmare. only 20% of the code ported. At that point, I sent the 5.x code out to all the people that bought the program (with source or not), and told them that the code was now moribund, I would not be maintaining it, and that I was releaseing the source code to the public domain (5 floppies included). As I recall, that was about 1998-1999 or so.

As late as March 2008, I've been contacted about the code. Of course, it's morphed far past anything I'd written, and I could only help with the general business case logic involved, not the actual code. But having to deal once again with Microsoft development tools, one would have to offer me far, far more money than it would be worth. No, I'm done with Microsoft "development" games. I'm done with school yard bullies trying to take my lunch money. I'm done, PERIOD, with closed source, whenever I have a choice.

I know how! (1)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307018)

Developers x 7, Mushroom?

Developers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307034)

Article title should have read:

How Microsoft Dropped the Ball with Developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers! Yes!

Anybody else out there (1)

onion_joe (625886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307052)

read the article title, "How Microsoft Dropped the Ballmer with Developers?

"Yo shawty, drop that Ballmer now!"

Ick, sorry, too much GTA...

The appalling GUI inconsistency (4, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307070)

One of the nice things from this article was actually this nice screenshot [arstechnica.com] of a selection of current versions of MS software running on Vista. The thing to notice is that not a single one of those applications has a GUI the same as any of the others. There are different toolkits, completely different look and feel, some have menus, some don't; it's a horrible, horrible mess. And yet despite that, we still get people complaining about GNOME vs. KDE and the clash of different toolkits and how that's what is holding Linux back. You can run GNOME and KDE apps side by side and, while they'll have differences, they'll sit together far more elegantly than the mishmash that is Windows. I think I'll have bookmark that screenshot so I can bring it up the next time a Windows fanboy starts decrying the excessive number of GUI toolkits on Linux.

for the other side of the coin (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307072)

Check out The Old New Thing [msdn.com] . Raymond Chen's posts are a delight to read, if you've ever had to do something with win32 in the past. He's like the Überjanitor of Hell :)

not sure they have a choice (4, Insightful)

abes (82351) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307090)

I'm not big on the M$ love. I'm a mac/linux proponent. However, I think that M$'s current problem with a really horrible API (I'm saying this having programmed for win32, GTK, QT, WX, and Cocoa) isn't an easy to solve problem.

They could pull an Apple, and completely redo their windowing system. Apple benefited from using NeXT's system, which was well thought out, uses a language well suited to windowing systems (objective-c), and could be altered based on previous user experience.

However, in doing so they would lose all compatibility they current have. Keeping compatibility, even if it creates a developer's nightmare, is in the end what keeps them on top of the market.

That is not to say it's not impossible for them to do so. Apple did provide a virtual machine to run old OS9 software with the first releases of OS X. However, since both Mac and Linux machines also have the same options (currently running Parallels on my machine), it would still take the clear advantage M$ has in the market away.

It's not clear whether their bad API spells the eventual doom of the company. The more pragmatic developers will still value making products that more people can use over writing nice looking code. Additionally, wrapper libraries, such as WxWidgets or Qt can help hide much of the ugliness.
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