Microsloth Explained, in Part

by on January 28, 2009 · 24 comments

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Never forget.

Is it any wonder that Vista took 8 years–and that there’s no firm market date for incremental update Windows 7–when even minor changes require updating thousands of pages of technical documentation for a team of state antitrust regulators?

For the depressing details, read today’s “Joint Status Report” filed by 17 states, the District of Columbia, the DOJ, and Microsoft.

The government’s continued meddling with Windows, some 9 years after it was branded an “abusive monopoly” and following the Vista’s fizzling, boggles the mind. In a way, the company’s efforts to sic the antitrust attack dogs on rival Google really are a desparate attempt to level the playing field.

  • dm

    Of course changing those documents was a miniscule task, compared to the problem of changing the poorly modularized code-spaghetti that was the OS/browser hybrid.

    That was the thing that struck me about the anti-trust suit: Microsoft testifying as how their design practices failed to maintain even minimal modularity, with the OS depending on the browser, which depended on the OS in ways that made it difficult to separate the two.

  • http://srynas.blogspot.com/ Steve R.

    While regulation can be an irritant, the true blame for these types of delays is poor management. Large corporations, because they become large bloated bureaucracies, become incapable of moving forward in the competitive market place.

  • MikeRT

    The American automotive industry failed to adapt, and the Japaneses auto industry beat us.

    That's what happened when the auto industry leadership decided that it could support the health insurance costs of 4 workers on a single worker's labor.

  • http://srynas.blogspot.com/ Steve R.

    Clearly the automotive managers were clueless as to what they were “managing” through the insurance give away. As another example of their clueless leadership, the US auto industry (when emission standards were first introduced) whined they couldn't meet those standards. Instead of complaining, the Japanese auto makers met those standards and their cars sold. US produced auto sales declined.

    In re-reading Pogue over, he has another good applicable quote that this is a management problem: “Now, plenty of people online are reacting to Windows 7 by muttering: “Oh, great. So I’m supposed to pay another $150 to get a version of Windows that actually works? How about you pay me for spending three years as your Vista beta-tester?””

  • quanticle

    Is it any wonder that Vista took 8 years–and that there’s no firm market date for incremental update Windows 7–when even minor changes require updating thousands of pages of technical documentation for a team of state antitrust regulators?

    Yep. It was the “excessive burden” of updating anti-trust documentation. No way did the delay have anything to do with the fact that, halfway through development, Microsoft threw away the Windows Vista codebase and started afresh, moving from the Windows XP kernel to the Windows Server 2003 kernel. Nope, lets focus the blame on big, bad, government like the libertarians we are.

    Look, I'm no zealot for open-source software, but I'd argue that the burden of updating documentation for the government was the least of Microsoft's worries during the debacle that was the Vista development cycle. I'd argue that the government's reporting requirements became a distant second to, y'know, actually making Vista work.

    And, despite the lack of a firm release date, it does look like Microsoft is making rather rapid progress on Windows 7 (rapid, that is, compared with Vista). Windows 7 has already reached “beta” level – something that Windows Vista hadn't reached for almost 6 years after the release of Windows XP.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis

    If their internal development processes were competent, they'd be writing that documentation as part of their internal processes. When you look seriously at the record of the SMB/samba negotiations and documentation, much of it is the government saying things like 'well, we need a test suite' and MS saying 'we don't have a test suite.' Any competent engineer writing something that large would, of course, write the test suite first, not when the government demands it.

  • MikeRT

    Look, I'm no zealot for open-source software, but I'd argue that the burden of updating documentation for the government was the least of Microsoft's worries during the debacle that was the Vista development cycle. I'd argue that the government's reporting requirements became a distant second to, y'know, actually making Vista work.

    And I suppose that in your opinion, having to synchronize development with documentation added no meaningful overhead to the development process.

  • quanticle

    Did the synchronization add overhead? Of course it did. Was it significant, given all the other obstacles that Vista had to overcome? I'd argue not. Frankly, even the issue of government documentation seems like a canard to me. You'd have to convince me that the amount of documentation that Microsoft has to maintain for the government is comparable to the amount of documentation that Microsoft has to maintain for other reasons (e.g. MSDN).

  • MikeRT

    Was it significant, given all the other obstacles that Vista had to overcome? I'd argue not.

    I've had the dubious pleasure of writing documentation for military sys admins. If you have never done something like that before, then you have no idea how mindnumbingly detailed the government expects this information to be.

    That's why I have a lot of sympathy for Microsoft here. They probably have to turn in more documentation than there are LOC in the entire Vista/7 code base.

  • MikeRT

    Was it significant, given all the other obstacles that Vista had to overcome? I'd argue not.

    I've had the dubious pleasure of writing documentation for military sys admins. If you have never done something like that before, then you have no idea how mindnumbingly detailed the government expects this information to be.

    That's why I have a lot of sympathy for Microsoft here. They probably have to turn in more documentation than there are LOC in the entire Vista/7 code base.

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