Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft Developer Explains Why Windows Kernel Development Falls Behind

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the gotta-be-the-shoes dept.

Windows 347

New submitter mha writes "In a response that truly seems to be from a core Microsoft developer, we are told about why Windows kernel development continues to fall further and further behind that of the Linux kernel. He says, 'The cause of the problem is social. There's almost none of the improvement for its own sake, for the sake of glory, that you see in the Linux world. ... There's no formal or informal program of systemic performance improvement. We started caring about security because pre-SP3 Windows XP was an existential threat to the business. Our low performance is not an existential threat to the business. See, component owners are generally openly hostile to outside patches: if you're a dev, accepting an outside patch makes your lead angry (due to the need to maintain this patch and to justify in in shiproom the unplanned design change), makes test angry (because test is on the hook for making sure the change doesn't break anything, and you just made work for them), and PM is angry (due to the schedule implications of code churn). There's just no incentive to accept changes from outside your own team. You can always find a reason to say "no," and you have very little incentive to say "yes."'"

cancel ×

347 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

your mom is fat (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695769)

its because of her genes though

Re:your mom is fat (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695817)

its because of her genes though

The quality of Slashdot trolling has gone way down recently.

Re:your mom is fat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695903)

Natalie P0rtman?

Re: your mom is fat (4, Funny)

iluvcapra (782887) | about a year ago | (#43695933)

Sigh. She's married now. The hot grits will just never taste the same.

Re:your mom is fat (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695953)

Must be those host files finally kicking in and blocking these lusers.

Re:your mom is fat (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696597)

I set up a $10,000 challenge for you to prove that.

NTFS (5, Informative)

wallyhall (665610) | about a year ago | (#43695783)

"Oh god, the NTFS code is a purple opium-fueled Victorian horror novel [...]" -- lol!

Re:NTFS (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695853)

"Oh god, the NTFS code is a purple opium-fueled Victorian horror novel [...]" -- lol!

What? I don't see that anywhere in the summary.

Re:NTFS (4, Funny)

Jorl17 (1716772) | about a year ago | (#43695945)

Then go RTFA!.

Oh, right, this is /. ...

Re:NTFS (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696173)

Woah, woah, slow down there, chief. Are you telling me there's an A to FR? That's crazy talk!

Re:NTFS (4, Interesting)

Carewolf (581105) | about a year ago | (#43696295)

"Oh god, the NTFS code is a purple opium-fueled Victorian horror novel [...]" -- lol!

Wouldn't that make it on par with XFS and ZFS? Modern filesystems have their advanced features by breaking the traditional layers, which makes them much harder to organize, and makes it seems like they have dirty tentacles branching out into everything else.

Re:NTFS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696669)

Except that ZFS isn't? (Unless you are very very stupid and simply lack the intelligence to comprehend its big picture.)

Re:NTFS (0)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#43696329)

Best. Description. Ever.

NTFS was originally a means of answering corporate demands of (among other things) "Hey - UNIX has file permissions, why doesn't Windows?" (v3.x at the time). The result? Worked (eventually), but, well...

Long story short... (5, Insightful)

korbulon (2792438) | about a year ago | (#43695795)

People at M$ only innit for the money. Microsoft's got good people no doubt, but I am reminded of line from Chef in Apocalypse Now: "They lined us all up in front of a hundred yards of prime rib. Magnificent meat, beautifully marbled. Then they started throwing it in these big cauldrons. All of it. Boiling." That's Microsoft: boiled prime rib.

Re:Long story short... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695811)

To be fair, prime rib is a pretty poor cut and only really suitable for dog food.

Re:Long story short... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696119)

I'd like to apply for the position of your pet.

Re:Long story short... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#43696293)

No you don't. Clearly he can't cook and can't judge the work of those who can.

Re:Long story short... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696155)

to be fair, you're a retard

i know real reason (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695799)

its all the chairs that are flying around the room....
also need for more lawyers then developers and developers that are lawyers.
YEA thats all have a nice day.....and YOU MADE A TABLET OPERATING SYSTEM AS YOUR MAIN OPERATING SYSTEM HOW RETARDED ARE YOU

Re:i know real reason (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | about a year ago | (#43696001)

Hey, I didn't get a "Harumph" outta that guy...

"Harrumph!"

Gentlemen! We've got to protect our phoney baloney jobs here!!

-----------

Bottom line, none of the lazy bastards actually want to do anything like work.

Re:i know real reason (4, Insightful)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#43696039)

It is possible that you can make some kind of pretty good hybrid tablet/desktop OS if you thoroughly plan and execute it really well. We cannot fully know. The problem is only that Windows 8 is way too far from such vision. They just released a hacked Windows desktop with this Metro screen thingy taped on it. Everything is all over the place with no good integration and smooth workflow. There is no posh: the graphics are only sharp squares with plain colors. It feels like a tech concept demo thrown together over a weekend.

Re:i know real reason (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#43696345)

exactly.

Take the ribbon, love it or hate it, if you really look at it the ribbon all it does is change the shape of the menu system of earlier versions of office. The exact same dialog boxes are there behind the scenes, showing up when you least expect them.

Even in windows 8 if you look around you can find the old windows 9X series dialog boxes and components in the seldom accessed areas. They are slowly being phased out but they are still there.

Re:i know real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696549)

I disagree. When you put your mouse over the options in Ribbon, you can see the changes instantly. I don't remember I saw those effects in Office without ribbon. Perhaps the dialog comes up is still the same, but it makes access to formatting a document easier and faster. One thing that Ribbon benefits me at the first time I use it and I still use it nowadays is setting the page margin. Just go to Page Layout, click on Margin, choose narrow, now I don't have to waste so much space on paper. May be it is just me but I say Ribbon is easier than the drop-down menu because people who are not very familiar with it (like me) can make use of functions frequently more accessible.

Pussy Blogger (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695815)

Proof: the SHA-1 hash of revision #102 of pagfault.c is 0cb82a9525a2158e2a87f5eb53d41e5936cee5a2.
there's the redacted bits

I'm sure this is on the money, but (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695819)

These NIH type problems are hardly unique to Microsoft, or even proprietary software. It's human nature. Big success contains the seeds of its own destruction. Open source has the forking mechanism which provides an outlet against some of the worst abuses (only).

Re:I'm sure this is on the money, but (2, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year ago | (#43696483)

But you'd expect a company that is joined-up, has significant managerial talent and expects to produce a good, core product to do a little better than continually produce internally-incompatible extras - what he said about cmd.exe not being upgraded and getting powershell instead rings too true for everything at Microsoft (he did forget cscript that appeared in between them, and no doubt there will be another one sooner or later). The same definitley applies to serious system components, I know the dev div wrote WPF/Xaml becuase they just didn't want to work with the Windows team - think about that, a graphics display system that sits on top of Windows and appears to all Windows APIs as a black-dialog-box. things like that need to be part of the core system. not something totally incompatible slapped on top. And that's not the only one.

I understand Sinofsky got this abd tried to make things work, but I wonder how much politics supporting the status quo got in the way there and did for him? That's the biggest problem Microsoft has today - not technical but organisational.

It's because... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695835)

they have to keep introducing new ways to nerf HOST file support to prevent APK from taking over the Internet.

You cannot kill the hosts file (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43695959)

Microsoft tried to kill the Start button, but it failed as the open-source Classic Shell struck it to the ground.

Microsoft could try to kill the .../drivers/etc/hosts file, but it'll fail as the developer of an open-source DNS resolver incorporating efficient hosts file lookup [pineight.com] throws it to the ground.

(Apologies to Tenacious D)

Re:You cannot kill the hosts file (3, Insightful)

armanox (826486) | about a year ago | (#43696417)

Actually I remember reading that Windows 8 ignores certain entries in the hosts file - this was an article a while back on Slashdot.

Re:You cannot kill the hosts file (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696447)

The article your parent linked to contains a link to just that slashdot article.

And the retraction (5, Insightful)

caywen (942955) | about a year ago | (#43695849)

Sounds like the guy was just frustrated and venting. Lots of us do that sometimes, and this one seems ready made to please the slashdot crowd. But do read the retraction the guy posted.

First, I want to clarify that much of what I wrote is tongue-in-cheek and over the top --- NTFS does use SEH internally, but the filesystem is very solid and well tested. The people who maintain it are some of the most talented and experienced I know. (Granted, I think they maintain ugly code, but ugly code can back good, reliable components, and ugliness is inherently subjective.) The same goes for our other core components. Yes, there are some components that I feel could benefit from more experienced maintenance, but we're not talking about letting monkeys run the place. (Besides: you guys have systemd, which if I'm going to treat it the same way I treated NTFS, is an all-devouring octopus monster about crawl out of the sea and eat Tokyo and spit it out as a giant binary logfile.) ...

Re:And the retraction (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695925)

The link's gone from HN, but it's still up here:

http://blog.zorinaq.com/?e=74 [zorinaq.com]

Re:And the retraction (2, Interesting)

paulpach (798828) | about a year ago | (#43696055)

Sure, people vent about frustrations at work. But you do that privately with your friends, family or select coworkers. You don't post something like that about your company on the web, embarrassing the hand that feeds you in front of the whole world. I am sure he did not think it would end up on Slashdot, but who's fault is that except his own?

If I was his manager and knew who it was, I would fire him immediately. Otherwise I would be risking him "venting" again in the future and embarrassing me even further. He is probably in violation of his employment agreements, so legal action might also be warranted. If his criticism are valid, sure, I would take a look at how to improve them, but still fire him for making them public.
His retraction was too little too late, the cat was already out of the bag.

Re:And the retraction (1, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43696197)

M$ is losing more and more of its competent developers to Google, Apple and other companies. It is in no position to start firing people for Internet posts. And no, they can't take legal action against him because of this post. The post was very generic, no specific information was disclosed.

Re:And the retraction (2)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#43696391)

It isn't just that either. 20 years of legacy code.(windows 95 is currently 18) The developers who wrote the original NTFS, WIN16, WIN32 subsystems, etc are growing old and retiring. Programmers don't like to document code and MSFT was worse than others at it as they were constantly trying to hide the way things worked to limit reverse engineering.

Sure MSFT is moving away from win16, and win32 but so many depend on it(as recently as last year I installed customer software that was written for windows 9X and only had it's data files updated the core software itself hand't been updated since), it is down right scary. Apples approach of forced upgrades sucks for some reasons, but at least the software is being updated.

Re:And the retraction (2)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43696545)

Doesn't the .net runtime (and the rest of the runtimes ms has produced) run on top of win32? Win32 isn't going anywhere so long as windows stays relevant.

Re:And the retraction (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#43696565)

Interestingly, the guy in the original post also claims that "We do not ship code that someone doesn't maintain and understand, even if it takes a little while for new people to ramp up sometimes."

Re:And the retraction (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696369)

Why not? "The hand that feeds you"? What kind of corporate-slave joke world do you live in? The company owes him for his services just as much as he owes them for his salary.

If you fired somebody who is allegedly one of the only good engineers in the organization what value would you have brought to the table? You can fire people who make you look bad? Why is it about you in the first place? It seems his complaints about Microsoft target the kind of attitude that you yourself have - that politics, punishment, and "managing up" matter more than real engineering work.

If I was his manager I'd ask him to post the retraction a bit more publicly since its been buried under the initial criticism, but then I'd try and carve out areas where the barriers he described could be broken down and improvement could be made. I'd also reward incremental improvement and argue for my colleagues and managers to as well - whether that be a fool's errand or not.

Re:And the retraction (1)

paulpach (798828) | about a year ago | (#43696469)

Why not? "The hand that feeds you"? What kind of corporate-slave joke world do you live in? The company owes him for his services just as much as he owes them for his salary.

Employment is a symbiotic relationship. The employer wins because he gets software (or labor in general) that it values more than the money it pays, the developer wins because he gets money that he values more than the time and work he gives.

A person is employable as long as the company gets more value from employing him than without him. When he posts something like this, for many, the negative publicity means the employee is no longer worth the cost.

He is no slave of the company, nor is the company a slave of his. It is a voluntary agreement between the person and the company, and either one of them should be able to terminate the relationship if they determine they are not benefiting from it anymore. Laws often get in the way of this.

As part of the agreement, companies often ask employees not to disclose internal matters. They are often asked to sign an NDA. If the person violates such agreement, he would be subject to legal action. If the company does not have such agreement in place, they should still be able to fire him if they determine he is not productive enough, or detrimental to the company (as in this case), but not go after him legally. People are free to agree to the terms and start the relationship, or reject it and look for someone else to do business with.

Re:And the retraction (4, Interesting)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43696371)

No, I'd promote that guy (maybe put him in a position to have as many as four people working right underneath him). He cares enough to bitch.

Re:And the retraction (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#43696387)

If I was his manager and knew who it was, I would fire him immediately. Otherwise I would be risking him "venting" again in the future and embarrassing me even further. He is probably in violation of his employment agreements

How do we know he/she isn't an Apple developer, slapping on the name Microsoft to hide his/her identity?

Re:And the retraction (1)

paulpach (798828) | about a year ago | (#43696495)

If I was his manager and knew who it was, I would fire him immediately. Otherwise I would be risking him "venting" again in the future and embarrassing me even further. He is probably in violation of his employment agreements

How do we know he/she isn't an Apple developer, slapping on the name Microsoft to hide his/her identity?

In the original post, he added a hash signature, that supposedly proves he works for Microsoft (I have no clue how though). It has since been removed.

This was very stupid in my opinion, because with it, he could be identified.

Re:And the retraction (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#43696685)

Ok, but i'm supposed to be persuaded by a hash which supposedly existed -- which was removed, that could supposedly only be generated by a Microsoft employee, contracter, partner, or other entity with some level of read access to the Windows source code materials?

And could only be verified by another person with similar acces.... and, they would be unlikely to pull the document to verify, as downloading the revision, could implicate them as an accomplice, when Microsoft's IT security will review the audit logs on all their servers laptops and workstations, to figure out who exactly downloaded, read, or accessed the document(s) the hash was taken against, and when.

So for all I (or any member of the community) knows, the hash was incorect or bogus, only because we don't actually have the means to verify, or a known verified Microsoft person standing up to corroborate the anonymous poster's status.

Re:And the retraction (4, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43696431)

If I was his manager and knew who it was, I would fire him immediately. Otherwise I would be risking him "venting" again in the future and embarrassing me even further

So, you are the type of manager who runs a shop full of passive / aggressive "brogrammers" and are more concerned with being "embarrassed" than putting out a quality product? I take it that you work at Microsoft? Or would like to? You sound like you would fit right in!

Re:And the retraction (4, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43696491)

and with attitudes like yours, freedom dies a little more, and society becomes a little less tolerant of the truth, instead bottling up the incongruence between it and politics til the pressure blows out via the next weak link.

Re:And the retraction (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696061)

so.. trade him systemd for his manager or something? a lot of us aren't very keen on systemd and it's kitchensink approach to integrating everything

Re:And the retraction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696335)

People often say things like that after being frank.

Re:And the retraction (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43696441)

People often say things like that after being frank.

I think you mean:

People often say things like that after being drunk.

And than later they regret their honesty and try to retract it, but it's too late.

Re:And the retraction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696717)

Yeah, people should be obedient and always lie through all bodily openings to please the rich/powerful/corrupt/warmoning.

Re:And the retraction (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43696743)

Yeah, people should be obedient and always lie through all bodily openings to please the rich/powerful/corrupt/warmoning.

That's not at all what I said or suggested. Don't worry, reading comprehension is something that will come to you when you grow up, Mr Anonymous Coward.

Re:And the retraction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696433)

Yes, there was a redaction. But when I studied for tests in school, in college and in university, I always remember what every teacher, t/a, instructor or professor said about writing tests, and it didn't matter if it was English or Cryptography, or Philosophy or Calculus or Avionics or Logic Design or Circuit Design or Operating Systems or Latin (yes, I did all of those): the first answer you put down on the test is usually the correct one. When you change it, you must either be absolutely certain, or you are making a grave mistake! Redact away! The basic truths motivating the rant have not (and likely will not) change. Reaction *to* the rant will raise hackles of all and sundry. The company he works for is *crazy sensitive* to this kind of thing. They will be burning witches for a month! They will set up an investigative team! They will canvass and interview people! They have software that tries to finger potential employees. They will attempt to cross reference sentence structure against internal correspondence and try to out this person. The redaction is an ass cover for the blow back. Business types insist that everyone is 'on the same team'. They act like rabid dogs to dissenters. As the saying goes: the beatings will continue until morale improves! Their perspective: "You will accept your lot and like it!" Anyone telling the truth openly like this is considered traitorous, and is treated like a double agent.

Re:And the retraction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696733)

In my experience, these corporate types like to think of themselves as "former lefties", "former hippies", "former flowerpower people". It just proves that the true leftie is a Tshekist deep inside. (As in Feliks Dsershinsky)

Re:And the retraction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696571)

He's free to contribute to systemd code.

Poor Management (4, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year ago | (#43695855)

All of the problems listed there are the direct result of poor management.

Accepting an outside patch makes your lead angry because . . . .
makes test angry because . . . .
and PM is angry because . . . .

There's just no incentive to accept changes from outside your own team.

When this happens, the manager who is in charge of all those people steps in and says "You will co-operate and get things done, or else you will no longer work here". Sadly, too many managers are too lazy and/or gutless to do this.

Re:Poor Management (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695931)

and of course, I wonder if there will be an incentive when linux pulls even further ahead?
How far ahead does it have to get, really?

Re:Poor Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696121)

Start shipping as default, not as Android but as Linux+GNU+X+whatever, on the bread and butter of Windows sales?

ovo -hoot

Re:Poor Management (3, Insightful)

Guinness Beaumont (2901413) | about a year ago | (#43696569)

The module-style build is a core part of Linux, not a weakness. If you're looking for a cohesive build style, you should try *BSD.

Re:Poor Management (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696063)

The problem is that the manager is dealing with the exact same problem, just one level up.

Re:Poor Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696127)

When this happens, the manager who is in charge of all those people steps in and says "You will co-operate and get things done, or else you will no longer work here". Sadly, too many managers are too lazy and/or gutless to do this.

Microsoft doesn't work that way much anymore... and 'functionalization' (aka 'Sinofskyization') is the reason where a new kind of siloization has been created where 'the manager' is even higher up on the reporting chain than before.

Re:Poor Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696139)

Yes, but MS's "devil-take-the-hindmost" performance review system breeds leaders focused on success rather than cooperation. (Don't listen to what they say; watch what they do.)

Do a Google image search on "org chart amazon google microsoft" and take a good look at the Microsoft one. Even insiders get a chuckle out of it because it's dead on.

Re:Poor Management (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43696649)

Competition and cooperation have both benefits and blindsides the other lacks. That's why, even in nature, the balance between the two is struck and restruck constantly. While ms might compete with itself to its own detriment, cooperatively biased organizations tend to breed a consensus-over-truth, feelings-over-facts culture over time. In ms's case, ego blinds the organization from truth, and in the latter examples, groupie politics do it.

Re:Poor Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696159)

You have never worked on a deadline or in a budget anywhere, I see

Re:Poor Management (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43696199)

The problem is that it goes all way up to Ballmer.

Re:Poor Management (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | about a year ago | (#43696215)

Efficient fix tracking and evaluation and merging and testing is all part of the ordinary workflow of any software development organization. Whether the proposal comes from one of the devs or a customer or a completely random person doesn't fundamentally matter, it's still simply code to be managed. In all cases the ordinary workflow routinely has to make decisions, based on merit and opportunity and risk and backward compatibility and all sorts of factors, about how and when to incorporate the proposed fix.

But that's nothing different from business as usual. If your development process can't handle development, you've got a problem.

Re:Poor Management (1)

leuk_he (194174) | about a year ago | (#43696311)

The problem is then shifted to measuring lines of codes produced to measuring co-operation scores. The Lower level mananager will then optimze their processes for the optimal coorperation scores. And you have new problem instead of solving the other. And no good manager will start to kick out talented people because they fail on something that is not their main business, and do their job "ust good enough"

Most project work with business goals that have to be solved within a plannable period. That is what you manage. Stepping outside this planning to do some hard to justify incremental optimisation is hard to justify if you have a big stacks of others tasks in the queue that have higher priority.

The linux model is not the ultimate solution. Look what happend to reiserfs (v4) after the main man reiser got arrested. That is not something that MS is letting happening to any of their OS components.

Re:Poor Management (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696317)

Good engineering companies are not driven by management but by the smart self-motivated people at the bottom. The company is rotten to the core and the entire management chain is to blame for providing the wrong incentives and nurturing an environment of obstacles and politics. I used to work in a different division of Microsoft and the problems he describes were the same.

Re:Poor Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696467)

It doesn't work when the same manager pushes X^Y featurecreep in the next release (Windows 8), and when he again pushes the same features to be redacted and push for N more features just to be sure there's some new value there as well.

Incompetence at that level can really only be solved by having a competent vision of where you want to be and the ability to get there by proper portfolio management.
Sadly, only small startups seem able to do it, and then just because they're desperate and scraping by, and just have to, or the business will die.

This is why you should always support those in the workplace who want to get it right the first time. Don't take their every word as gospel, but hear them out. There are words of gold in there, and the seed to future success lies in ability to listen to competent coworkers' opinions, professional or not.

Re:Poor Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696547)

A usual manager KPI is employee retention. Throwing an ultimatum down like that, if his employees call his bluff en masse, or he realizes he has to carry through with it, will not be beneficial for the manager...

Also, it is a poor technician who blames the quality of his tools (which can be applied to managers as welll).

Re:Poor Management (1)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | about a year ago | (#43696551)

"You will co-operate and get things done"
That goes against the grain of how things are done at MS. They rather foster and adversarial environment within your team - competing rather that cooperating.
See: Vitality curve aka Stack Ranking.

Re:Poor Management (3, Interesting)

Afty0r (263037) | about a year ago | (#43696553)

When this happens, the manager who is in charge of all those people steps in and says "You will co-operate and get things done, or else you will no longer work here".

Actually, to do this would demonstrate very poor management skills - a good manager doesn't just tell people to do things while leaving a broken system in place.

A good manager would modify the work environment in order to incentivise the staff to act in a way which is more in line with the business goals (advancing the kernel) - then they would explain these changes and why they were making them to all involved.

Shouting "DO YOUR JOB" at people has a curiously poor track record for making people, y'know, actually do their job.

Re:Poor Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696595)

Obviously you never worked for a big SW company, where:
  * People, Project and Product management are strictly separated
  * In any category, the first two levels have no real power (budget, scope and release schedule set, headcounts are centrally governed)
  * Higher levels of management live totally detached from every day "reality" of the dev teams
  * Development and maintenance of products is performed by separate organizations with separate budgets
  * Development projects are won in a "bidding war" of doing more cheaper, meaning no "beautification" of any parts of the system unless totally necessary, in which case given the costs the whole improvement is most likely cancelled
  * Maintenance teams do not want to touch *anything* unless they have to, and even then they do minimum impact changes

This is not poor management, this is a poor system... which I have to admit seems to be *very* successful financailly...

I regretted submitting this story immediately. (5, Interesting)

mha (1305) | about a year ago | (#43695923)

I submitted this story. I am only human - what was I thinking? I guess I thought of the many strange comments I could elicit...

I am so sorry, guys. I must say that shortly after reading the story reason set in (but I was too quick on /.) - there is nothing unexpected in it. It is no big deal. It is a non-story. Everything described is not "Microsoft", it is human, including the complaints. I don't think the points are invalid, it's just that one can make a long list like this for ANY large (or even medium) project. Life is messy - but I got my first story submitted (which means nothing).

My apologies.

I just hope that the guys managers, should they find out, react maturely - by doing exactly nothing (at least no punishment). Stuff like this happens, and if it does so only once it should be overlooked.

PS: On the other hand, enough people voted this to the front page...

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695965)

The blog pretty much describes what we expected, but it provides interesting details (like gossip junkies, we always like details). Especially since Microsoft has become almost as walled off from outsiders as North Korea - or maybe IBM in its heyday in the '70s and '80s - and this guy [blogspot.com] (possibly one of Sinofsky's inner circle?) seems to have quit his blog.

In short, nice catch.

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (4, Interesting)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about a year ago | (#43695981)

I've never thought the people at M$ were stupid, or incapable. Their problem is that the company's run by marketers instead of engineers. I'm with you; this guy was just venting his frustrations.

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (5, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#43696151)

I've never thought the people at M$ were stupid, or incapable. Their problem is that the company's run by marketers instead of engineers. I'm with you; this guy was just venting his frustrations.

Gates, Allen, and Ballmer : The Three Marketeers

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696125)

The poor chump is gonna get hauled into his manager's office and then shortly afterwards off the premises. He previously thought he had a job for life. After being fired he will lose his house and most of his possessions. His now ex-wife will rape what few parts are remaining, taking the kids along the way. He loses his health insurance and is unemployable due to having the brand of a whistleblower and troublemaker. 6 months later, just as he is about to run of the funds he needs to continue living in some shabby rented apartment, it ends with the ring of a shotgun blast and splatter of brains on the ceiling.

Was worth it for your first slashdot submission though, right?

Re: I regretted submitting this story immediately. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696227)

Well that escalated quickly...

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (1, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43696143)

PS: On the other hand, enough people voted this to the front page...

I have discovered recently that it's not as hard to get a submission accepted to the /. front page as it once was.

Slashdot is waning (1)

pigiron (104729) | about a year ago | (#43696627)

Yes, but the reason... (1)

mha (1305) | about a year ago | (#43696731)

...may very well be the HUGE increase in competition of websites clamoring for attention. I *do* believe that it would have behooved them (/.) well to continue to work on the moderation system - it hasn't changed much in all that time, and I see LOTS of room for improvement (not that it would be easy, but I don't even see attempts).

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43696223)

It is no big deal. It is a non-story. Everything described is not "Microsoft", it is human

Yes it is a story, and it is interesting. Of course it is human nature, and all organizations have these problems. But successful organizations overcome these problems. Organizations that don't overcome these problems fail ... except for Microsoft. What makes Microsoft so fascinating, is that it is only successful because of some early chance opportunities that allowed it to establish customer lock-in, and this has allowed it to succeeded despite being utterly dysfunctional. Microsoft has not only failed to overcome these human problems, but has wallowed in levels of backstabbing, empire building, and technical incompetence that would have destroyed any less endowed organization. Anyone interested in organization behavior should look at Microsoft as a fascinating outlier that breaks all the rules, yet still survives.

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696601)

> it is only successful because of some early chance opportunities that allowed it to establish customer lock-in, and this has allowed it to succeeded despite being utterly dysfunctional.

I work in a "large" company that was exactly like that. For decades it provided bad code with high price. It was obvious that everyone bulieved that everything would continue like that for ever. But just a few years ago, customers suddenly started demanding something better. It is quite amazing how fast it all happened. Soon, all that work that had been done there for decades, was no more.

There were no free alternatives on the market. There were no better alternatives on the market. Yet this somehow happened.

Microsoft on the other hand, is competing with Linux, Android, Google...

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (0)

devent (1627873) | about a year ago | (#43696497)

"...it's just that one can make a long list like this for ANY large (or even medium) project."

Except the Linux kernel I guess.
But it's nice to hear it from an insider.

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year ago | (#43696529)

It is normal for a lot of companies, but most companies are not so huge that they are about to topple over under their own weight of different, and incompatible, divisions layered side by side fighting for position.

It also matters because Microsoft is still a very important company.

Its things like this that I, as a manger, would like to hear - sure its all venting anger, but there's always some grains of truth behind it. And my job would partly be to figure out those grains and fix the problems causing them. FYI Microsoft, those problems look to be too many people not working together, effectively acting to make Windows the kind of system that will eventually fall apart under its own bloat of incompatible APIs and subsystems that seem to continually appear.

Its a shame they got rid of Sinofsky as it seemed like he was someone who had noticed this and was trying to pull things tighter together.

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696585)

Its a shame they got rid of Sinofsky as it seemed like he was someone who had noticed this and was trying to pull things tighter together.

You mean he was going to fix the code cruft problems by just throwing away the old UI and inventing a new one?

Re:I regretted submitting this story immediately. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696633)

Most companies would be long out of business if their development processes worked like that. So, this is not normal behavior.

Keeping people. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695937)

Another reason for the quality gap is that that we've been having trouble keeping talented people. Google and other large Seattle-area companies keep poaching our best, most experienced developers, ...

Well, what do you expect? Microsofties come to Slashdot, get picked on, insulted, called evil, etc ... then they have to go home and cry themselves to sleep. The days of the Microsofty crying his way to the bank to see his millions are gone. Now, he cries in his bed, over the insults on Slashdot and the insults spewed at him during his performance review.

Now, some of those poor poor basterds are at Google and Google is now Evil and they'll have to put up with the abuse AGAIN!

On another note:

We just can't be fucked to implement C11 support, and variadic templates were just too hard to implement in a year. (But ohmygosh we turned "^" into a reference-counted pointer operator. Oh, and what's a reference cycle?)

Dude, I feel for the compiler team. MS' programmer tools team is the BEST on the planet bar none. YOU guys should walk around with your heads held high and your pants down do I can kiss your asses! And as far as anything regarding C++ is concerned, well the creator of that language - He who shall not be named - should have stopped in 1998 with adding features to that language - maybe even in '90. He made 'C' OOP - awesome!! Then he went crazy with the "features".

As it is now, I won't touch C++ for new development. ASNI C for system/metal work or anything that needs high performance and Python for most of everything else. GUI work depends on the platform - Visual C# rocks for Windows dev!!

Don't get me going on a rant about Java's current state of stinky.

Re:Keeping people. (3, Informative)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#43696461)

C++ is made by a standards committee mostly composed of industrials and a couple of academics.
The features that are added are added due to demand of members of the committee.

There are at least two major people on the committee that are from Microsoft.

Sounds like any larger IT company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696017)

Leads that decline changes since you will own more code, test departments that do not have resources and a PM that fears everything sounds very familar to me.
I've seen great features being deferred since the testers were not able to test due to lack of resources and I've seen PMs that denied corrections of known bugs since they feared that error correction will introduce even more bugs. And leads often do decline things because of political reasons (e.g., because if previously had been said that there's no time left within deadline, there has to be no time left. Even if the tech stuff already started reading newspapers at work)

After all these things work since products do not need to be good, they just need to be 'good enough' to make money.

Typical across all tech company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696027)

As company and products grow, they become more and more risk averse and reluctant to change.
You can always find 100 reasons not to take risk and change.
In the end the day, you get your pay check no matter how. So who cares.

Not exclusively Microsoft problem (1)

fldsofglry (2754803) | about a year ago | (#43696091)

While this might be pervasive at Microsoft, this problem does occur at other companies as well.

Re:Not exclusively Microsoft problem (3, Insightful)

router (28432) | about a year ago | (#43696157)

Dilbert-esqe. Change the details and its the last two "insert Big Co Name Here" jobs I spent a decade and a half at.

andy

Glory? not Need not Passion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696165)

Perhaps this is better suited as a Poll, but is programming for glory a common thing? is it a main motivator?

I veiw need as a main motivator, programming what I need when I need it. I don't code professionally though, but in a professional setting perhaps one needs passion.

This is True Of All Companies (4, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#43696307)

I never see anyone working to improve the quality of already working code. Unless it's actually not doing the job intended, no one will ever revisit that code. If something needs to be added to it, they'll go do that and everyone will probably hate working with the code because the design sucks, but no one will think to improve the design. If you told them they could, they'd look at you like some strange alien monster.

If a project has enough churn, you can actually justify cleaning up design, interfaces and even entire subsystems in some cases. If all you do is make each piece of code you touch suck just a little bit less, you'll hate having to work on that code less and less over time. All you have to do is look at the code and think "it doesn't HAVE to be this way!" If that old application everyone hates has gotten to the point where it requires a full time position just to maintain it, there's usually no reason why the design couldn't be improved along the way. My goal in maintenance positions is to eliminate the need for that job. There'll always be SOMETHING that needs maintenance, so I don't feel bad about doing so.

Re:This is True Of All Companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696451)

Really? I mean you don't always notice how bad some code is unless you work on it, and in other cases you notice you didn't go far enough last time, but I at least work on making code better all the time.
Just things like noticing that you've seen the same scheme used in some other place and factoring it out (happens quite often if you end up in code someone else usually takes care of, during holidays for example).

The Iron Law of Bureaucracy runs Msoft (5, Insightful)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about a year ago | (#43696453)

From Pournelle's web site:

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":

  First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

*** Finding a way to effectively deal with bureaucratic capture of institutions is probably the number one human problem.

Re:The Iron Law of Bureaucracy runs Msoft (2, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#43696575)

Indeed. And the bureaucrats believe firmly they the more time of others they can "bind" (i.e. make them waste it against their wills by processes, forms, committees, etc.), the more important they are. These people are natural parasites that try to take over the host slowly, but permanently. Unfortunately they are typically slow enough that the host takes a long, long time dying. Prime example: The former USSR.

While bureaucrats are amoral (i.e. devoid of any morality and ethics, be it good or bad, and as such do not strictly qualify as human, same as many politicians), fighting them is a moral imperative for everybody not utterly immoral.

Windows has no future (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696493)

Most of you have no idea where performance PC-like architecture is heading, but if you did you'd comprehend how important articles like this are in helping to understand why Windows is doomed.

Consider the PC from its origins as an IBM design to the (near) present. The focus has been on what is crudely known today as SINGLE-THREADED performance. This is a monumentally dumb programming approach that means at any one time, only one code 'branch' is doing heavy continuous work that uses the significant resources of your PC. Other threads are given periodic, massively inefficient, access to the CPU cores by the dreadful Microsoft scheduling system, to keep the background tasks functioning.

This lousy approach to coding and computer architecture has suited both Intel and Microsoft. It gives us computers that in 99.99% of cases cease to get any benefit beyond 2.5 cores (the 0.5 comes from the scaling efficiency- obviously you don't get half cores). As a result of this, we are still using an extraordinarily primitive 2x64 bit memory bus on all consumer grade PCs. The Microsoft OS and programming model simply doesn't show improvement with modern RAM systems.

Now the Sony PS4 is arriving with an incredible, futuristic, PC architecture- an architecture that ONLY makes sense because it neither runs Microsoft Windows, nor uses an Intel approach to interconnecting memory buses. The PS4 has a cluster of EIGHT CPUs, a massive number of GPU clusters that can be used for streamed GENERAL PURPOSE calculations, and a HSA memory architecture that means the SINGLE (yes, the PS4 has all of its computing elements on one chip) chip feeds an integrated memory space via a massive 256-bit bus (4x64) connected to incredibly fast GDDR5 RAM chips.

The PS4 is designed to run dozens scaling to hundreds of powerful worker-threads, each doing the same real work as that single thread on an ordinary PC computer. If Windows were used on the PS4, the mere overhead of handling so many worker-threads would reach > 100%, meaning that the time managing the threads would be greater than the time spent by the threads actually doing work.

Put simply, future computer designs MUST be coded "close-to-the-metal". An OS that tries to guess what resources a thread is going to need, and for how long, is doomed to complete and total failure. The application itself must be responsible for ALL SEMANTIC signalling. The OS must be prepared to allow the application to define the efficient use of the resources of the computer.

On Windows, the OS is always trying to guess the intent of a thread. Applications CAN crudely attempt to reserve system resources like 'memory', but this idea is confounded by the scheduler which crucifies memory efficiency by having no explicit thread-control of the cache-system of the CPU. The scheduler tries to GUESS which threads are going to keep appearing on the scheduler list in order to keep their cache use coherent. The best a "to the metal" approach can hope to achieve on the PC is one heavy thread per CPU core, and one-to-two threads to the GPU. Anything more and the "clashing" and "thrashing" will eat all theoretical improvements of more simultaneous heavy threads.

Radical changes to the PC architecture are coming- not from the hopeless Intel, but from AMD. AMD plans PS4 like parts for future general and server PC use. AMD's Kaveri part, later this year, is a 6-core CPU cluster and powerful set of GPU clusters on the same chip, with a shared memory architecture drawing from a GDDR5 memory bus. Unfortunately, Windows will take no advantage of the architectural improvements, so the part will show little general improvement to the ordinary PC user.

Ordinary PC users won't begin to fret UNTIL it becomes increasing clear that AAA games titles from the PS4 cannot be efficiently ported to Windows. The best PS4 coding practices of mid-2014 onwards will not be possible on any Windows PC. The Windows versions of such games will thus need to be simpler cruder implementations with many features missing if the ports are even possible or financially viable.

Windows, at its heart, will never be better than it is today. Its kernel CANNOT be fixed or improved- too much legacy crap sits on top of a design that was a hack even THREE decades ago. Windows is designed for dumb, non-semantic (ie., hardware resource ignoring) computing tasks that basically consist of one all powerful calculation thread, and any number of small efficiency-irrelevant background threads. When your browser chokes and thrashes, regardless of your RAM pool or CPU count, because you dare to have more than a handful of tabs active, this is why. There is NO smart way to code to Windows if you are trying to use the computer resources in an efficient and complex way. The kernel does not allow for that level of control.

Re:Windows has no future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696635)

If your software is regularly touching RAM, you're doing it wrong. GPUs can typically handle high latency because they have long pipelines which hide it. CPUs can't.

If you're relying on software developers to know the impact of RAM access on their software performance, you're doing it wrong.

If you're relying on software developers to know the impact of RAM access on their software performance on multiple different generations of hardware, many of which haven't even been invented yet and may have radically different architectures.... you're just utterly insane.

Sadly, the nature of commercial endeavor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696563)

One very refreshing thing about OSS is that it *tends* to stay more merit driven even should it encounter success.

In commercial software... well.... I have my own experience.

I work at a company with a generally reviled piece of software that is frequently 'tolerated' by users enough to not completely tank its share. By some peculiar set of circumstances, a small team I worked on happened to have cause to create for some customers a solution that in almost every way ran circles around the 'flagship' product at the same general job. It did more, it did it faster, and it did it with fewer resources.

I naturally thought 'hey I'll help'. I got advised to not go anywhere near it for the sake of my sanity and enjoy the technical achievement as long as we could without drawing attention. The moment our little band's efforts would be recognized as 'strategic', that will be the end. As proof they invited me to participate in a few discussions, and pretty much all of the same stuff mentioned. If an immediate effort that could be done to rectify a problem, they'd find some way to suggest a nebulous standard they predict coming out in two years would solve it, so just wait and see. The other goto excuse was there just was too much test and legacy behind it to risk anything.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>