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Why Vista Took So Long

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the changing-lightbulbs dept.

Microsoft 761

twofish writes, "Following on from Joel Spolsky's blog on the Windows Vista shutdown menu, Moishe Lettvin, a former member of the Windows Vista team (now at Google) who spent a year working on the menu, gives an insight into the process, and some indication as to what the approximately 24 people who worked on the shutdown menu actually did. Joel has responded in typically forthright fashion." From the last posting: "Every piece of evidence I've heard from developers inside Microsoft supports my theory that the company has become completely tangled up in bureaucracy, layers of management, meetings ad infinitum, and overstaffing. The only way Microsoft has managed to hire so many people has been by lowering their hiring standards significantly. In the early nineties Microsoft looked at IBM, especially the bloated OS/2 team, as a case study of what not to do; somehow in the fifteen year period from 1991–2006 they became the bloated monster that takes five years to ship an incoherent upgrade to their flagship product."

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761 comments

Linux development model? (5, Funny)

October_30th (531777) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003586)

So, Microsoft has finally adopted the Linux development model?

Re:Linux development model? (2, Funny)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003626)

So, Microsoft has finally adopted the Linux development model?

Close. If they did that completely, then they would have a new OS release every 4 weeks, with each previous one being "supported" only if you can afford to hire a full time staff of programmers.

Old Joke (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003750)

Heh. This reminds me of an old joke;

Q: Who sucks more cock - CmdrTaco, Joel Spolsky or Microsoft?

A: I'll take rhetorical questions for $1000, Alex.

MOD DOWN PARENT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003936)

ninenine is a total MS troll.

Re:Linux development model? (-1, Offtopic)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003842)

...completely tangled up in bureaucracy, layers of management, meetings ad infinitum, and overstaffing.

That sounds to me nothing like the Linux development model.

Perhaps you should do a little research into how Linux is developed before making such stupid statements.

Re:Linux development model? (-1, Troll)

CRiMSON (3495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003998)

Maybe you should realize what your being trolled and stop responding to stupid posts. Who's stupid now.

Re:Linux development model? (4, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003940)

So, Microsoft has finally adopted the Linux development model?

To call it "the Linux development model" is somewhat arrogant I think. It appears more that Microsoft is trying to take their time and putting in extra effort to make this release literally the best Windows release to date, because the last thing they want is another Windows ME. This process applies to any software group, be it OSS, Apple, IBM, and yes, Microsoft.

To borrow a quote from Shigeru Miyamoto, "A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever." I think that applies to pretty much any software project, though of course "good" is relative to the user.

Re:Linux development model? (1, Interesting)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004104)

Microsoft is trying to take their time and putting in extra effort to make this release literally the best Windows release to date, because the last thing they want is another Windows ME.

From the reviews I have read, Vista will be another Windows ME. Not that it bothers me, I have been free of Microsoft's trashy products since 1998.

Re:Linux development model? (1)

MORB (793798) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004120)

Their effort seems to be misguided. The case exemplified here shows that they just have way too many people working on that thing, and the overhead reached astronomical proportions.

The company I work for has a similar tendency, on a much smaller scale. We also have a pretty fat, cumbersome and difficult to manage code base with lots of legacy code, and there is this misguided belief that just throwing more people at it will improve things.

Don't they know about the mythical man-month?

Re:Linux development model? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003974)

Troll because he insulted Linux? Nothing like a little bias!

Because (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003592)

'cause it's a grea view. Like the first post.

Hopefully (-1, Redundant)

emmp (1032154) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003604)

It'll be worth it.

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003732)

You must be new here...

Re:Hopefully (2, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003792)

Sure. In five years after SP1 and SP2 and maybe SP3 are out to fix what's wrong with Windows Vista now and the hardware is able to run it fast. From what I seen, it's just a bloatware update to Windows XP. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to Mac OS X Leopard. ;)

Re:Hopefully (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003984)

Vista works fine and I see nothing but biased bitter views of Vista from this community. It runs perfectly fine on my 5 year old and actually runs smoother than XP; navigating networks and browsing is seamlessly more easier to access than in XP.

Bloatware right? Thanks Linux for reminding us what a terrible desktop Windows has been the last 10+ years for the millions and millions of people/businesses around the world. But I could understand the last few years how Linux people have given up their bitter argument of Linux vs Windows on the desktop and have shifted their argument with MAC OS X vs Windows desktop.

Re:Hopefully (5, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004034)

It runs perfectly fine on my 5 year old...

You run Windows Vista on your kid?! Not even Linux users would do that! :P

Re:Hopefully (-1, Redundant)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003872)

You must be new around here.

The Success of the OS is Predetermined. (4, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003884)

1. As a monopoly, they define how much they charge.
2. Sales/Marketing's job is to force this product down OEM's throats. Good, bad, whatever, just buy it.
3. There is no accept or reject market mechanism. You WILL be buying Vista if you choose to buy a new PC later. It will be the very rare individual who switches to a mac or just slaps linux on their current box.
4. There is no incentive to establish a more productive developer environment.

Therefore, chaos and mismanagement won't ever harm the beast.

Joel's comments are fun to read, but the scale at which MS develops their OS makes it too easy to criticize from Joel's relatively tiny company.

Finally, How many hours did the developer spend/waste reading /. waiting for next week's meeting?

Welcome to inevitability (4, Insightful)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003630)

Every single organization seems to follow this exact same path. Lean and mean at first, to fast and nimble second, to large but feature, to slow and bloated. The next step after this tends to be, jump at any and all projects to see if anything will stick progressing slowly down a spiral with a large change either acquisition by another company or dramatic slashing of middle-management workers and projects to focus on their core. Unfortunately I have yet to see a large organization that doesn't seem to go down something similar to this path.

Re:Welcome to inevitability (1)

n1hilist (997601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003684)

Sounds like a case of Corporate Entropy.

Re:Welcome to inevitability (4, Interesting)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003894)

Sounds like Parkinson's law [wikipedia.org] . Every large organisation eventually falls for it too.

Re:Welcome to inevitability (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003764)

Only the ones we love to hate ... like WalMart.

Re:Welcome to inevitability (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003818)

We have also yet to see a government which hasn't gone down this path. Of course, not many people question the behemoth of bureaucracy (and hence corruption) which is government. I suppose when you think you're getting a piece of the pie, you tend to block everything else out.

Hey, at least Microsoft is a voluntary behemoth of bureaucracy (to the extent where they haven't exploited the coercive powers of government of course). I'd opt out of government in a second if I could, but that's not exactly an option.

Re:Welcome to inevitability (5, Interesting)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003856)

Microsoft needs a Steve Jobs-ian spring cleaning. For those unaware, when he returned to Apple, he called project leaders into a conference room and had them justify their existence. If they couldn't do it, the project was scrapped. The company was streamlined to focus on a few core product lines.

Re:Welcome to inevitability (4, Interesting)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003934)

Nintendo [wikipedia.org] ? It's 117 years old, and able to release a much hyped console.

Re:Welcome to inevitability (1)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003950)

The next step after this tends to be, jump at any and all projects to see if anything will stick

Err... next step? Xbox, Zune, misc. hardware, media center, MSN, etc, etc, etc, ?

note that this is just the windows group (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003634)

and not microsoft as a whole

Most of you don't know how corporations work

they're not uniform across all fronts

Re:note that this is just the windows group (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003870)

This problem of bureaucracy and overbearing process is uniform across Microsoft. If you don't believe me, visit MiniMSFT [blogspot.com] and browse the archives.

15 ways to turn off a cumputer (0, Offtopic)

denisbergeron (197036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003660)

On my keyboard I have a sleep button. It's the only one option I ever use.

Re:15 ways to turn off a cumputer (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003878)

cumputer

I bet I know what you use your PC for.

Sleep vs Hibernate (2, Insightful)

Omicron32 (646469) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003666)

I've been in a sysadmin job now for about 4 years.

I work with computers daily, both Windows and Linux (and a dabble with OSX).

Can I tell you the difference between sleep and hibernate? No.

What are the differences, and why do they matter to the average Joe? Why not just have the 'best' one and forget the other one?

For that matter, why are they duplicating the Lock option, seems pretty dumb to me.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (5, Informative)

gibbdog (551209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003754)

Sleep basically saves the machine state and leaves the RAM powered up... which uses very little energy (but can be important like on a laptop where you don't want to keep your RAM powered if you aren't going to be using your computer for say 12-24 hours...

Hibernate writes the RAM contents to disk, then when it starts back up it writes back from the disk to the RAM, and brings up similar to sleep mode.

Sleep is faster, hibernate takes it down farther and shuts power off completely.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003948)

To Joe User, they are both the same, so why not just put a little 2 or 4 gig flash drive in the machine, and roll both functions into one? Practically, it would be as fast as sleeping, but would have the complete power down benefits of hibernating.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (2, Informative)

norfolkboy (235999) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003772)

I'm not sure how you've lasted so long then...

"sleep" sends a computer into a low-power mode, but leaves the machine running, and information stays in RAM.

"hibernate" sends RAM data to an image file on a hard disk, before turning the computer off, powering it down so the machine can be moved/unplugged/or just use no energy...

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004110)

he said linux as well. I don't turn my linux boxes off unless they're being moved, upgraded, or during kernel testing, I mainly do linux too (cluster admin and hpc development), and the whole hibernate/sleep/standby stuff in windows confuses me too. They all mean the computer is consuming power. I just save work and turn my windows box off.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (3, Informative)

yerM)M (720808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003796)

This is one thing I absolutely love about the MacBooks. You just close the lid. Done.

There are ways to switch user and restart. Both are in obvious places but you never see them unless you want.

And there's more! If you want to use the MacBook with the lid closed, plug in an external keyboard. Done. I wish my PC laptop did these things.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (4, Insightful)

MioTheGreat (926975) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003836)

Congratulations, you just described the default power functionality in XP.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (2, Informative)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004046)

Unfortunately, in XP you have to choose "Turn Off Computer" to bring up the dialog box that has the option to merely put it to sleep. I wonder how many people leave their XP systems running because they forget the sleep option is carefully hidden?

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (1)

Lostconfused (1019042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003882)

Well usually there are power options where you can choose what the laptop does when you close the lid as in - do nothing, sleep, hibernate, shut down. And since most laptops have Windows xp as a standard its obvious where restart or log off is. Also, i understand the need for a bigger keyboard, although extra baggage to drag around defeats the purpose of portability. But why do you want to use an external keyboard with a close lid? Don`t you want some visual output somewhere, or can you just do all of your work through rote memory?

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17004002)

Huh. My WinXP laptop does that, even after a fresh install. You could say it does that "right out of the box".

I really hope you're not one of the admins for the computer research you are apparently participating in! (Btw, your mit.edu link is invalid~)

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003822)

I think going to sleep means it doesn't use much power at all and is in a standby state. Hibernate means that the computer takes whatever is in memory and temporarily writes it to the hard drive.

In terms of a laptop, I believe this is the difference between 1) shutting the case and it goes to sleep, and 2) selecting hibernation so it will write memory to the hard drive and completely turn off the computer.

Does the average Jane or Joe give a shit? Probably not. The only issue I think one would have is if they are completely mobile and rely on the battery life of their laptop. In this case, I believe hibernation it is very important for the user to know the difference. This still doesn't change the fact that most people don't give a shit.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (2, Informative)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003828)

Short summary:

Sleep puts everything into "low-power" mode to save battery power (used for short trips where you are going to use the laptop again soon, etc; the battery is still being used). The laptop comes back quickly into its last state.

Hibernate saves the state to the local hard drive (including memory contents). This requires enough storage space to save the state. After saving, the laptop is powered off (no battery usage). Upon reactivation, it reads the file and goes back to how it was before hibernating. It takes longer to "reawaken", but it saves battery power and boot-up time. On my home computer, restoring from hibernation is quicker than booting from a cold-start.

Btw, this is just an off-the-cuff summary; I may be lacking on some of the details. :)

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003850)

Can I tell you the difference between sleep and hibernate? No.

I guess you're not very good at your job then..then again, most sysadmins aren't.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003918)

This is the consequence of design-by-committee. Instead of one or two people dictating a clear focus of design, you get a bunch of voices all trying to justify their existence, and the design becomes bloated and schizophrenic as you try to appeal to everybody and cover every possible option rather than focusing on a few good ones.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (3, Insightful)

awing0 (545366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003946)

I think all the choices have some merit.

Switch User - Leave your apps running and switch to another user's desktop. Useful to switch to Administrator quick to fix/install something and then go back to work on your user account.

Log Off - Close all your apps, closes desktop to user login screen. This is good for corporate and multi user PCs. You close all your apps and allow background services to keep functioning (printer sharing, etc).

Lock - Keep your apps and desktop in place, only you need your password to get back to your desktop. This is very useful if you need to walk away from your computer, but want to get back to work when you come back to your desk.

Restart - This is going no where anytime soon.

Sleep - The computers state is suspended into a low power mode. In theory, you can come back to your computer and it will be ready to use in a quicker fashion than a cold boot.

Hibernate - A deeper sleep. Instead of the computer state suspended in RAM, it is written to disk. Useful on laptops, as the computer is really off but still "sleeping".

Shut Down - Everyone should know what this is.

I agree the UI for this menu is terrible, but the options aren't. The solution I believe is to allow all options. Go with the simple menu and you get the three primary options. If you are a power user or admin you get the whole list. Choices are good.

Standard geek viewpoint == standard geek problem (5, Insightful)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004106)

Choices are good.

Not to most people. Certainly not past a *few*,*salient* choices. Past this point, more choices just add confusion. You do not need 255 different ways to tell a laptop to "close up for later use". A true geek would want to be questioned for each process about whether it needed to be persisted or killed. This is a problematic mindset.

Re:Sleep vs Hibernate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003980)

Yikes! A sysadmin who doesn't understand the difference between 1) storing the contents in RAM while still keeping a trickle of power running through the system and 2) writing the contents of RAM to disk and doing a full powerdown? And we wonder why sysadmins have been given a bad name? It seems many have actually brought in on themselves by not having a basic understanding of computers.

b'bye (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003668)

to Microsoft

Wait for it, wait for it (5, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003670)

Because it had to move through the digestive tract and on through the large intestine.

Re:Wait for it, wait for it (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003986)

You win. No other comment will best this.

Why RTFA? (4, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003690)

Doesn't "the approximately 24 people who worked on the shutdown menu" already tell you everything you need to know?

Re:Why RTFA? (1)

rpw101 (990890) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003832)

Because, if you read the article, you'd know that 24 people didn't work on the menu - it was 8 (which still seems too many to me!). The figure of 24 is from the 8 shutdown menu people, 8 'shell' people (the whole start menu) and 8 kernel people.

Re:Why RTFA? (5, Informative)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003896)

Doesn't "the approximately 24 people who worked on the shutdown menu" already tell you everything you need to know?
No, it's worse than that:
In small programming projects, there's a central repository of code. Builds are produced, generally daily, from this central repository. Programmers add their changes to this central repository as they go, so the daily build is a pretty good snapshot of the current state of the product.

In Windows, this model breaks down simply because there are far too many developers to access one central repository -- among other problems, the infrastructure just won't support it. So Windows has a tree of repositories: developers check in to the nodes, and periodically the changes in the nodes are integrated up one level in the hierarchy. At a different periodicity, changes are integrated down the tree from the root to the nodes. In Windows, the node I was working on was 4 levels removed from the root. The periodicity of integration decayed exponentially and unpredictably as you approached the root so it ended up that it took between 1 and 3 months for my code to get to the root node, and some multiple of that for it to reach the other nodes. It should be noted too that the only common ancestor that my team, the shell team, and the kernel team shared was the root.
Sounds like an even better way--better than adding even more people--to ensure that nothing good is ever invented outside of isolated development silos, and that bugs in code won't pop out until months after it was checked in.

It's not done (0, Troll)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003712)

management just said get it out now and we will fix the bugs later.

no Europe? (2, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003752)

Is anyone else surprised they didn't mention Europe bitching about every little thing in Vista as part of the delays? Kinda hard to forget to mention that one, huh? I do agree that the overstaffing problem is a huge one. I'm working on a 9 week programming project for a class in a group of three and we're still like "you did what?!" every single week and then try and stomp out all the little fires that pop up from two people doing things that aren't compatible.

Re:no Europe? (1)

lostatredrock (972881) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003854)

What does that have to do with anything? This was looking at the development of one particular feature...menu...in the UI. I could be wrong but I would not think that the EU had all the much to say about the Off button.

What if the "Bye" button... (4, Funny)

carvalhao (774969) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003756)

...uninstalled Vista instead? Now that would be a simple way to solve the matter.

RE: Why Vista Took So Long (2, Funny)

gr8whitesavage (942151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003762)

It was those 18 month long sound effects [slashdot.org] .

Re: Why Vista Took So Long (3, Funny)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004006)

I just get the idea of a really long flatulent fart..

Take it from Google (1)

graffitipad.com (1032488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003774)

Sometimes waiting for the release of a perfect app is suicide. They should take a page from Google's book and allow beta versions to be constantly tweaked and hammered on. A flowing model might have a better chance than a rigid once-every-five-years plan.

Re:Take it from Google (2, Insightful)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003956)

While that can work with a web-based program/service, something as large as an OS which has to be installed on your computer is a completely different story.

In order to properly set up a windows box with all of the programs I want and the settings I prefer takes about a day. That's not something I want to do once a week/month/quarter.

Re:Take it from Google (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004010)

Oh sure. Everybody has time to completely update their OS every year or so. Good idea.

Re:Take it from Google (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004040)

Well they do release a lot of Betas, its just the issue of they make no money from the use of the Betas so there is a rush to get the final version out the door. While Google gets ad revenue despite the beta state, Google's only concern is, "Is it good enough to attract customers eyes".

Why not? (4, Insightful)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003788)

People would want Vista if it were revolutionary. But you can't just sit down and say 'let's make something revolutionary' and then set up a timeline and claim to be able to create a revolution within that timeframe. Revolutions happen by accident if at all, not on purpose.

So why hurry? For money? In my experience hurrying to make money never works out.

TLF

Re:Why not? (1)

Namlak (850746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004028)

In my experience hurrying to make money never works out.

That's why I've been dutifully working on my 250-year get-rich scheme. So, 37 years in, I'm right on target!

Huh? (3, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003794)

I don't get the new cult of never turning your PC off. If I'm away from my computer, it's usually for an extended period (IE - a night I'm not downloading crap, or a full day of work). Doesn't it make vastly more sense to not have the power supply fan running for those 8 hours? Or the HD randomly going idle and then spinning up again? When I'm done, I shut the machine down and turn off the power strip. Interested in why others don't, however.

Re:Huh? (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003898)

large processing jobs; bittorrent

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003920)

At my office they don't want us to power our computers down. Apparently they can't apply windows patches remotely when they are off. I still turn my machine off and manually (= windows update) apply patches.

I know, it's jaw dropping.

Harddrives wear worse from int Amps than 24/7 use (1)

boombaard (1001577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003938)

the initialization currents that go through your HDs are a killer compared to just leaving it running 24/7.

the powerbill i could care less about, but anything extending the harddrive MBTF i will do gladly ;)

on another note, i tend to use remote desktop a lot since it lets me access my agenda and outlook installation and whatnot from pretty much any location with internet access. (and using your own setup all of the time is just convenient)

Re:Harddrives wear worse from int Amps than 24/7 u (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004080)

When you hibernate, the HDD spins down. How is this any better than turning it off?

Re:Huh? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003990)

Well hibrinate truly does use no power. And with faster hard drives, it creates an instant on capability. Still occasional shutdown is needed as memory leaks occur and whatnot.

Re:Huh? (1)

backdoc (416006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004020)

For me, it's a matter of convenience. Just like not having to wait on dial-up to connect is a convenience I enjoy with DSL.

Re:Huh? (1)

Explodo (743412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004102)

I'll have to agree that shutdowns and startups are killers on hardware. I leave my systems running 24/7 and have for many years. The only time they ever fail is when I turn them off and then back on.

TRUE STORY:
Me: I think I'll turn off the computer.
Me(next day): I think I'll turn on the computer....click...no whirring noise....what's this?
Computer: Ha-Ha! I win again, your power supply has gone out and fried your motherboard!
Me: #$%@!

Computers that don't get power-cycled run much longer than computers that do. Over the years, the only times I've had hardware failures is when:

A) a fan goes out...we all know how much this happens
B) I turn it off and back on.

Nice screen shot (2, Insightful)

archen (447353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003802)

Looking at the article... Is it just me or getting that menu to pop up for the shutdown options by that arrow seem really unintuitive? I've gotten that feeling all around while using vista. Nice looking in places, but much of what the windows/system is telling you is hard to make sense of.

Re:Nice screen shot (1)

rpw101 (990890) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003964)

That's the advanced options menu - Shut Down and Lock (probably the most common options) are always visible just to the left of the arrow that pops up the advanced menu. Looks ok to me - most average users probably won't be using the advanced options a whole lot.

The modern DVCSs would all do better (3, Interesting)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003804)

From the article:

"Windows has a tree of repositories: developers check in to the nodes, and periodically the changes in the nodes are integrated up one level in the hierarchy. At a different periodicity, changes are integrated down the tree from the root to the nodes. In Windows, the node I was working on was 4 levels removed from the root. The periodicity of integration decayed exponentially and unpredictably as you approached the root so it ended up that it took between 1 and 3 months for my code to get to the root node, and some multiple of that for it to reach the other nodes."

Monotone, BitKeeper, git, bzr, and so on would all handle this situation efficiently and gracefully; all the repositories can sync to each other and none need be more than a few minutes out of date. Amazing that Microsoft's solution is so poor by comparison

missing the point (1)

Kuciwalker (891651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003976)

Maybe they don't want to sync repositories that quickly. This prevents newly introduced bugs from quickly interfering with everyone else's work.

Re:The modern DVCSs would all do better (4, Insightful)

Chirs (87576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004018)

It's not quite that simple.

When you get beyond a certain stage of complexity, you need to change the mode of operation. You can't just have everyone submitting random changes.

You have a subgroup of people that work with each other. When something is stable, it gets submitted to the integration branch. Periodically the integration branch is tested and verified that all the various things feeding into it interwork with each other. That stable version is then propagated into the other teams for them to work with.

Linux uses a variation of this. People work off the mainline tree. Riskier stuff is in the -mm patchset, so if you want to play with it you need to sync from multiple places.

The real problem with the scenario as described is the repository organization, likely not in the repository tool. There should have been a way to manually make a child stream that started with the stable version, then pulled in the latest changes from the kernel group, the tabletPC group, and the shell team. That would have allowed them to all work together and see what each group was doing.

Some of the reasons OS2 failed (1)

Programmer_Errant (1004370) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003834)

Basically OS2 took on more than they could handle and were out of their depth. They didn't have the kernel development experience that the other kernel development groups had. My impression is they didn't want to hire in people who knew more than they did since it would jepordize their big frog in small puddle status. This delayed things so when they were finally forced to add more people it was too late. The adding more people to a late project makes it later mythical man month thing. And the '93 layoff happened in that time frame and there were a lot of skilled people available. So no excuse that there was a shortage there.

I take offense to this! (1)

Jonsey (593310) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003838)

I'm offended. I was hired by Microsoft recently, and basically only attend meetings (I'm a PM). My job is to keep the devs from having to go to ad-naseum meetings.

I feel shamed that I'm viewed as part of a growing problem, and that I "got in easy".

Then again, I'm writing a reply to /. at 10am.

Re:I take offense to this! (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004114)

My job is to keep the devs from having to go to ad-naseum meetings.

You should have some meetings with them about that.

KFG

I'm Not That Suprised (4, Informative)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003840)

I've read other blogs in regards to Windows Vista, and from what I am gathering the primary reason why Windows Vista took so long to complete was because of management. Philip Su argued how the gargantuan amount of code included in Vista slowed it development dramatically, however I think that this strengthens my point and the point made in this article.

However, I'm not terribly surprised that this occurred for Vista. The higher execs at the company wanted Vista to be a revolution and had a clear and concise goal that they wanted this operating system to achieve. In order to do this, from what I've read, they needed to form many more separate divisions inside of the Windows division to concentrate on small parts of the operating system. This probably sounded like a good idea, but the problem was that none of their work was in sync with each other. Some had more work completed than others. Furthermore, rifts within divisions such as the one present here spurred disagreement after disagreement, that including the decision to switch the codebase of the OS to the one present in Server 2003 (something that from what I understand should have been decided from the beginning). With all of this, it was only inevitable that confusion and miscommunication would occur.

All in all, while I think Windows Vista is definitely more capable than Windows XP and warrants itself a much needed upgrade, I feel that the actual improvements of the operating system [wikipedia.org] do not warrant a five-year delay. Okay, so the compositing manager, networking stack, and audio stack may have needed some time to complete, but five-years? I am not a programmer, so my impression may not carry a lot of weight, but being that Linux and UNIX based systems have already included some of these "future technologies," it becomes naive to deem this delay as acceptable.

ok you lost any respect (1)

xxdesmus (932581) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003888)

ok, see this was almost a good article until the last sentence at which point you lost any respect I had for the validity of your information, " that takes five years to ship an incoherent upgrade to their flagship product." What are you smoking my friend? Oh, I am sure you'll be the same person who will turn around and tell me how Leopard will be anything more than a service pack. Right, keep right on smoking that stuff my friend.

Why MS is doomed (really) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17003890)

You can see this problem in other aspects of Microsoft's behavior. Microsoft has always worked on the basis of eyeing up a weaker competitor, copying the product, and using their corporate muscle to kill the competition. You really need to move fast for this strategy to be effective. In recent years they've not been able to do it. See Google killer MSN Search (which has had no discernible impact on Yahoo or Google), Java killer .NET (which has had no discernible impact on Java), the PS2 destroying XBOX (which has had little impact on the PS2) and now the iPod murdering Zune (which has been a disaster so far). A lot of this isn't down to the fact that the MS product is bad (Zune excluded). Its because the market leader is too well established. To me this suggests an management structure that can no longer respond quickly - i.e. too many layers of bureaucracy.

MS needs direction (1)

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003900)

Pure and simple, Microsoft needs a clearer direction on its UI and feature set if it's to continue developing new releases of Windows. Vista development continually failed because Microsoft could never agree on what they were trying to bring the consumer, and left too much in the hands of its development teams. It never had a clear roadmap from the beginning, and was always chasing features that were introduced by competitors along the way.

In the future, competitors will continue getting more creative, and keeping up with them will someday become prohibitively expensive for Microsoft. To survive, Microsoft must innovate instead of duplicating their competition ... a tall order for a company with thousands of developers. As we're seeing from Apple's small but significant resurgence in popularity, customers are demanding more than ubiquitous driver support and backwards compatibility, they are demanding an experience ... and it's increasingly one that Microsoft refuses to deliver.

Opinions are like ar-- (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003902)

Isn't telling a company how to write it's programs, particularly it's flagship, like telling another parent how to raise their kids? If they want to PAY over twenty people for designing that, hey, it's their money. Whether it's mismanaged or not is an internal affair over at Microsoft. Maybe the articles will have some people answer for that.

Vista Features (1)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003904)

Is he sure that it wasn't because they had to remove all those features? You know, the ones the promised when it was still called "Longhorn", like with all the other aspects of the OS?

Quite frankly, Vista is well on route to becoming a term for "taking the long road around to arrive back at the same place" - as in "hey, did you Vista or what took you so long?".

Off Menu (1, Insightful)

Botia (855350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003912)

While the development sounds aweful, I think the result that came out of it is quite nice.

I hear two camps: minimalists and those who want do make every possible decision. One camp says just have one or two buttons. The other wants 10 buttons. I think the third option is the best. Make it easy do the two buttons but still have a way of doing the other options. This is what Microsoft has done. They have a power button and a lock button. The power button goes into a sleep/hibernation mode. The lock button goes into a lock/switch user mode. If you want the other choices, you need click on the menu arrow.

This seems like basic design. Make it simple to do common stuff. Make it possible but not as easy to do things that you do less often (more advanced).

This coincides well with other insights.... (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003982)

This coincides well with other insightful articles that show Vista is probably Microsofts last dominant OS. IF things continue the way they have been. The average computer user would have enough know-how to be able to figure out how to install linux. Also, with linux's expanding hardware support. Linux is evolving into a possibly successful mainstream OS. Linux will most likely take over the higher-end portion of the Vista versions such as Vista Premium and Business, etc.

With the amount of bearacracy that is going on in MS. It looks like they are putting money in anything that looks like it can fly and a lot of it is not flying. This is not good in the longterm. MS needs to proiritize and get back to its roots if they want to continue having a high marketshare even if that market share slowly shrinks due to Linux. The best they can do is slow it down.

IF things continue like this, there will finally be a true competitor to MS.

Take away restart? No, but make usable and pretty (1)

ejd3 (963550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003992)

Although I agree that simpler may be easier for some people I like that Vista doesn't dumb down the options available to users. I like that the new explorer starts by default in the detailed view. I think that Joel's comments about removing restart aren't necessarily accurate. I use restart all of the time, not only when installing software. It's easier to do than shut down and power back up because I don' have to press any buttons.


I also find my self using the hibernate feature and also the suspend feature in Windows quite often as well, depending on how far I have to lug my laptop. I would really be missing the functionality of all these features. The features I never use are lock and switch user. Only one person ever uses my computer, and that's me so I don't have much use for these options but they don't bother me. I just wish it looked cooler and was easier to get to the options I use most often instead of turning out to be the "lowest common denominator".

On a tangent, I wish that Vista would allow you options when you create a user to customize the complexity of the options it gives you. Maybe a computer guru setting where it gives you all of the options for the shutdown menu and shows hidden folders and file extensions by default (I don't know if Vista does this or not) and then a beginners setting that just shows you the basics. I know that the first thing I do whenever I install XP is customize everything so that I can work faster: show full path in address bar, get rid of the common tasks pane, etc.

Give the user a choice... (1)

coldmist (154493) | more than 7 years ago | (#17003996)

Why can't there be a way to specify which of the 9 are listed???? Is that so hard?

I know the difference between sleep and hybernate, and I use sleep all the time, both for shutdown and startup speed. (writing 2GB of ram + POST and reading 2GB of ram takes a LOT longer than the 2/5 seconds it takes for sleep to do its thing.

For a home PC, the only option I would have showing would be sleep.

At work, the only option I would have showing is lock.

Let the user choose what to show.

For Joel, it's always about hiring (2, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004000)

"The only way Microsoft has managed to hire so many people has been by lowering their hiring standards significantly."

Leave it to Joel to turn every issue into a hiring standards one. The problem was that too many people were involved in the project, not their quality. Joel likes to stroke his ego and promote his company by claiming he always hires the best people. This issue afforded him another excuse for self-promotion.

This is why I upgraded to XP from Vista (2, Interesting)

carlsbl (811222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004030)

These layers of complexity are added to many Vista functions, copying files, burning CDs, running applications that have not received Microsofts blessing, video/desktop settings...ugh! I give up. Give my my nice functional XP anyday. XP was the best thing they have done so far. I don't think I'll say that about Vista. I'll miss XP when I am forced to upgrade. I am an IT implentor and I am going to pesonally kill any move to Vista for as long as I can. My users will hate it, they just want to do their jobs, not relearn how to use a computer. I ran Vista 3 weeks and last weekend I hung it up and "upgraded" back to XP.

Vista UI a mess? What a Surprise! (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004032)

Am I the only one less than shocked by the implication that Vista's UI is going to be a mess, just like every other version of Windows? I mean I thought it was pretty obvious that somewhere early on in the formation of MS, they hired people that don't know how to do good usability testing and have never corrected the problem. Or maybe it is just that people in marketing or somewhere else have more say in the matter and end up overriding the right decisions.

Now I don't agree with all the quick and dirty second guessing. I think a lot of people want to have their Windows box shut down, closing all their apps and restart with a "fresh slate" while they go to the bathroom or something. But I also doubt that the existing UI described was the result of good user testing. The UI could be greatly simplified. Anyone, however, who was expecting this to happen has never paid attention to a Windows upgrade before or was privy to something I was not. The Windows UI will suck right up until it starts costing MS real money. Until then, users will just have to deal with it.

Vista: An Enigma Wrapped In a Paradox (5, Informative)

hklingon (109185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004062)

Ok. I've been running vista on one machine or another for a while.. since early beta.. and am now running the release version on my main machine. There are quite a few headscratchers in here. I often tell my colleagues I'm like the little kid from the 6th sense.. except instead of dead people I see bugs. Things that annoy the crap out of me that have been there at least one maybe two versions of windows ago.

In the past days of clicking through endless options and dialogs to configure things such as encryption certificates, etc I often wondered if this was really better than editing a single line in an easy-to-find text file.

Start menu? Hardly ever used the damn thing. Shortcut keys with and I put the quicklaunch bar off to one side with the 40 or so frequently used programs I use.

Vista doesn't support dragging the quicklaunch bar off of the stat menu and off to one side because it was "confusing to end users." No one seems to have found a registry override as yet.

Vista doesn't handle symlinks properly. It used to be "c:\documents and settings" but now in vista it is c:\users. I see a clever little "C:\documents and settings" shortcut on my C drive. OOOOoo is this a symlink? No? I get Access Denied when trying to double-click. Opening the path via an API however works fine. Go figure.

BUGS. Features? Half-Features? Call them what you want. I think most technical folks that have to work on this know these problems exist but architecturally or bureaucratically they are hard or impossible to fix.

Often on XP, 2000, NT and 95 I would hit control-esc then R for run and type frequently used programs into run. I would say this is just an odd quirk about me and how I think menus take too long and too much work to do something, but now the run area has been replaced with a little place you type in stuff and through the magic of windows desktop search it finds whatever you type in the area above that normally occupied by program icons. The bug? You have to let it search. No matter what. Yeah, WTF? This works great on a home PC where you maybe have maybe 10,000 files. Network drives? Oh no. You can't just type n:\ then hit enter. You have to physically wait a sec for it to pull up n:\ in the list of programs above the start menu THEN hit enter. WOW, WHAT A GREAT FEATURE. No more control-esc n:\ enter for me. It is nowctrl+esc n:\ wait..wait..wait.. enter. Otherwise I get some random program like Notepad. Or Flash. Or Firefox.

On the one hand I can see how the start menu splaying itself all over your screen as you "drill down" to whatever the hell obscure program you need might be unappealing. On the other hand confining the entirety of all programs available to you to a 400x600 pixel window doesn't seem like a good fix.

This is just the start menu. Don't even get me started on the new file explorer, which is the least half-baked area of Vista in my opinion. Does Slashdot have an option for submitting a rant and getting comments? I'm sure I could go on all day.

I take all this as evidence that a lot of new features in vista are based on good ideas.. new paradigms in UI design.. it just seems that the vast majority are implemented poorly at best and implemented recklessly at worst. I would not expect this in 2006 when others are able to produce such polished and solid OSs. I would have to agree this seems like code-rot from the inside out probably due to the megalithic internal structure at MS

Stability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17004070)

Just hire hardcore kernel gurus and make the thing stop needing the mad resources it does.

My CAPTCHA for today is "tantrum" .. so I may as well have one:

Why can't it run without ever paging to disk .. Even with unlimited RAM ..the damn thing seems like
it wants to page to disk. Just load everything into RAM .. AND KEEP IT THERE.

WTF!

When I can load windows and (if not physically then virtually) REMOVE the hard drive and still use the web browser I loaded without some mad kernel F'd error .. then I would say the thing is good.
I don't mind the disk being used for some logging type crap. But this shouldn't interfere with operations. Yeah and when the OS finds out the disk is gone it should pop up some error like "Dude, IF you want to load that, put the disk back yo". Note, that is not a blue screen.

What would DOS do?

Compare and contrast. (3, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004096)

Does nayone have any info on how the OS X team works? I mean in a few years Apple did a complete paradigm shift from OS 9 to OS X on the OS level. I would be interesting to see what, if anything, they are doing better. Links or experiences would be nice.

And while I am at it, the start menu requires input from the kernal team. WTF? This is violating some very basic software design principles. The OS should just be basic services, then the applications, including the UI, should ride on top of the kernal without really caring much about how the kernal works.

I can see integration with the shell, but the kernal? It looks like MS policy of tight OS integration with the applications is biting them *hard*.

Interesting, (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17004112)

he complains about 15 options, but really there are only 7 options, but with multiple ways to get to most of them.

I find (in my own experience, I'd like to hear other views), people don't mind having a lot of options to do the same thing if they are "not near eachother". For example, there are two buttons on the start menu to turn of the computer (the power icon, and the "shut down" list item) - mouse/screen elements, a function key combo (keyboard elements), power button (physical button on the computer element), and closing the lid (physical manipulation of the computer).

The only two parts of these I can see people having a problem with are the two next to eachother on the start menu, which may cause some minor annoyances, the rest are really dissociated from eachother in terms of "method of approach".

However, 7 types of "shut down" could be annoying... switch, logout, lock, shut down, sleep, hibernate, and I forgot one. Anyway, the shut down, sleep, and hibernate, which are very similar, will porbably annoy most users.

As far as the project managment... 24 people + 1 year... That looks like an afternoon of coding for one person to me... Yeah, that's ridiculous.

Joel is an idiot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17004118)

Who's dick do I have to suck at slashdot to get my shitty blog linked to every time i post?
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