Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 9th Mar 2010 23:38 UTC, submitted by poundsmack
Windows "Few people understand Microsoft better than Tandy Trower, who worked at the company from 1981-2009. Trower was the product manager who ultimately shipped Windows 1.0, an endeavor that some advised him was a path toward a ruined career. Four product managers had already tried and failed to ship Windows before him, and he initially thought that he was being assigned an impossible task. In this follow-up to yesterday's story on the future of Windows, Trower recounts the inside story of his experience in transforming Windows from vaporware into a product that has left an unmistakable imprint on the world, 25 years after it was first released."
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Great article
by B12 Simon on Wed 10th Mar 2010 10:32 UTC
B12 Simon
Member since:
2006-11-08

I love these war stories from the olden days.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Great article
by christian on Wed 10th Mar 2010 19:02 UTC in reply to "Great article"
christian Member since:
2005-07-06

I love these war stories from the olden days.


I was bored witless before the end of the first page!

I hope it picked up for those who were interested. I might try again in a couple of hours.

Reply Score: 2

imprint indeed
by Brunis on Wed 10th Mar 2010 11:57 UTC
Brunis
Member since:
2005-11-01

It has scarred millions for life! If only he had failed like the men before him!

Reply Score: 5

RE: imprint indeed
by darknexus on Wed 10th Mar 2010 12:51 UTC in reply to "imprint indeed"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

If he hadn't done it, someone else would have. If Windows hadn't come about, Microsoft would've made something else and screwed up the IT industry for 20 odd years anyway.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: imprint indeed
by fretinator on Wed 10th Mar 2010 14:52 UTC in reply to "RE: imprint indeed"
fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

If he hadn't done it, someone else would have. If Windows hadn't come about, Microsoft would've made something else and screwed up the IT industry for 20 odd years anyway.

No, what would have happened is they would have continued work on OS/2 with IBM, and the computer world that most people experience would have been 20-year advanced of where it is now. Microsoft is just now catching up with where OS/2 was technologically in the 90's. Imagine if all the work that went into Win 3.1, Win9x and ME had instead gone into improving OS/2. It makes me sad.

That's why I'm glad Linux/BSD came along when it did. For me, it took up where OS/2 left off.

Reply Score: 7

RE[3]: imprint indeed
by darknexus on Wed 10th Mar 2010 15:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: imprint indeed"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

No, what would have happened is they would have continued work on OS/2 with IBM, and the computer world that most people experience would have been 20-year advanced of where it is now. Microsoft is just now catching up with where OS/2 was technologically in the 90's. Imagine if all the work that went into Win 3.1, Win9x and ME had instead gone into improving OS/2. It makes me sad.

Nice idea, but I'm not sure it would've happened like that. From the sounds of it, the IBM/MS partnership was doomed regardless, too much friction between the two sides. That's not to say that OS/2 wouldn't have dominated anyway due to IBM, it very well might have, but then we'd have probably had the same situation with IBM that we had with Microsoft for so long and I doubt IBM would've been any nicer to competitors if they had that kind of power in the os market.
That's why I'm glad Linux/BSD came along when it did. For me, it took up where OS/2 left off.

I mostly agree, but it's taken quite a while to get there. OS/2 is still around as EComStation, but I'd bet Linux and BSD have an edge on it these days.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: imprint indeed
by galvanash on Wed 10th Mar 2010 22:32 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: imprint indeed"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Microsoft is just now catching up with where OS/2 was technologically in the 90's. Imagine if all the work that went into Win 3.1, Win9x and ME had instead gone into improving OS/2. It makes me sad.


Not saying there is no truth in that, but saying MS is "just now" catching up is quite a bit over the top. I used OS/2 from version 2 all the way to Warp, and used it exclusively. It was _far_ more advanced that Windows 1/2/3/3.1 - but that isn't really saying much at all (I don't really consider those Operating Systems, they are basically DOS shells with a rudimentary API)...

It would even say that from a purely technical perspective OS/2 2.0 was more advanced than any version of windows in the 95/98/ME series - but that technical advantage was never put to good use imo. The fact of the matter is that most of the native applications for OS/2 were mostly inferior to their Windows counterparts in both usability and stability, and there simply were not enough of them. I would say most if not all OS/2 users were using it to run Windows 3.1 applications - it did that VERY well - but so did Windows...

But to get back to the point - Windows NT 3.5.1 may not have been pretty and it may have been a memory hog compared to OS/2... But it was certainly technically superior in almost every way. Microsoft basically caught up with that release from a technical perspective - it just took them until until 2000/XP to actually complete the transition, mostly due to their own self created problems unifying the userspace/driver side of the equation with their Windows 95/98/ME releases (which while technically inferior were effective at introducing app developers to the Win32 API and getting them up to speed before the real transition to the NT codebase).

I remember OS/2 quite fondly, but still it had warts and LOTS of them. It was far from perfect. And from a purely technical standpoint NT was simply a much better design for the future - most of the perceived advantage of OS/2 at the time was simply due to its much lower memory usage - which was mostly due to the large portions of heavily optimized assembly code strewn all over the place. Over the long haul that advantage meant nothing - eventually the hardware caught up. And OS/2 was forever tied to x86 because of its tight coupling with Intel's chips (yes I know there was a PPC version - but it was never completed. Maybe it corrected alot of the earlier mistakes, no way to know really..)

I sometimes think Dave Cutler does not get the credit he deserves. There are many things MS has screwed up royally over the years - but the fundamental design of the NT kernel is not one of them. Consider the fact that it is STILL being used 17 years later virtually unchanged from an architectural perspective. Sure is has been refined over the years, but the fundamentals have changed very little. There is no way OS/2 would have been competitive over all these years had it not undergone radical redesign from the ground up...

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: imprint indeed
by demetrioussharpe on Thu 11th Mar 2010 00:36 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: imprint indeed"
demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

"Microsoft is just now catching up with where OS/2 was technologically in the 90's. Imagine if all the work that went into Win 3.1, Win9x and ME had instead gone into improving OS/2. It makes me sad.


Not saying there is no truth in that, but saying MS is "just now" catching up is quite a bit over the top. I used OS/2 from version 2 all the way to Warp, and used it exclusively. It was _far_ more advanced that Windows 1/2/3/3.1 - but that isn't really saying much at all (I don't really consider those Operating Systems, they are basically DOS shells with a rudimentary API)...

It would even say that from a purely technical perspective OS/2 2.0 was more advanced than any version of windows in the 95/98/ME series - but that technical advantage was never put to good use imo. The fact of the matter is that most of the native applications for OS/2 were mostly inferior to their Windows counterparts in both usability and stability, and there simply were not enough of them. I would say most if not all OS/2 users were using it to run Windows 3.1 applications - it did that VERY well - but so did Windows...

But to get back to the point - Windows NT 3.5.1 may not have been pretty and it may have been a memory hog compared to OS/2... But it was certainly technically superior in almost every way. Microsoft basically caught up with that release from a technical perspective - it just took them until until 2000/XP to actually complete the transition, mostly due to their own self created problems unifying the userspace/driver side of the equation with their Windows 95/98/ME releases (which while technically inferior were effective at introducing app developers to the Win32 API and getting them up to speed before the real transition to the NT codebase).

I remember OS/2 quite fondly, but still it had warts and LOTS of them. It was far from perfect. And from a purely technical standpoint NT was simply a much better design for the future - most of the perceived advantage of OS/2 at the time was simply due to its much lower memory usage - which was mostly due to the large portions of heavily optimized assembly code strewn all over the place. Over the long haul that advantage meant nothing - eventually the hardware caught up. And OS/2 was forever tied to x86 because of its tight coupling with Intel's chips (yes I know there was a PPC version - but it was never completed. Maybe it corrected alot of the earlier mistakes, no way to know really..)

I sometimes think Dave Cutler does not get the credit he deserves. There are many things MS has screwed up royally over the years - but the fundamental design of the NT kernel is not one of them. Consider the fact that it is STILL being used 17 years later virtually unchanged from an architectural perspective. Sure is has been refined over the years, but the fundamentals have changed very little. There is no way OS/2 would have been competitive over all these years had it not undergone radical redesign from the ground up...
"

You fail to remember one key point. The OS that became Win NT was originally developed as OS/2 NT. The change happened during development after Win 3.0 began to take off. Had it stayed as OS/2 NT, then it probably would've still had the same features or even been a bit more advanced.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: imprint indeed
by galvanash on Thu 11th Mar 2010 02:09 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: imprint indeed"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

You fail to remember one key point. The OS that became Win NT was originally developed as OS/2 NT. The change happened during development after Win 3.0 began to take off. Had it stayed as OS/2 NT, then it probably would've still had the same features or even been a bit more advanced.


The only thing that really changed was the addition of the Win32 subsystem and its promotion to "primary" API status over the OS/2 API. The parts of NT I speak of when I claim it was technically superior are neither of those - it is the kernel, executive, and all the bits that go together to implement them. Those bits have virtually no resemblance in any way to either OS/2 or any MS code that came before them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: imprint indeed
by demetrioussharpe on Thu 11th Mar 2010 02:22 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: imprint indeed"
demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

"You fail to remember one key point. The OS that became Win NT was originally developed as OS/2 NT. The change happened during development after Win 3.0 began to take off. Had it stayed as OS/2 NT, then it probably would've still had the same features or even been a bit more advanced.


The only thing that really changed was the addition of the Win32 subsystem and its promotion to "primary" API status over the OS/2 API. The parts of NT I speak of when I claim it was technically superior are neither of those - it is the kernel, executive, and all the bits that go together to implement them. Those bits have virtually no resemblance in any way to either OS/2 or any MS code that came before them.
"

True enough, however, if things would've continued down that path, that would've been OS/2 & the OS/2 that we know of currently (from after the MS/IBM split) would not even exist. That architecture would be OS/2's current architecture.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: imprint indeed
by tylerdurden on Thu 11th Mar 2010 04:23 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: imprint indeed"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Equating assumptions with facts is a dangerous path.

We don't know what would have happened, simply because it never happened. Assuming OS/2 would have been based on NT, even though they were two unrelated products... makes as much sense as assuming AIX would have eventually become OS/2 for example. In fact as ridiculous as that scenario is, it almost makes slightly more sense since at least those were two IBM products.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: imprint indeed
by tylerdurden on Thu 11th Mar 2010 03:40 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: imprint indeed"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

No, there was never an OS/2 NT. Or at least nothing that was further from vaporware.

NT and OS/2 are mostly unrelated codebases. In fact, OS/2 from a technical stand point was not that impressive of a design. And had some craptastic bad design decision, as exposed by the fantastically hard time IBM had porting OS/2 to PPC (the hacks that were required ended up being legendary).

As bad as MS have been in slowing the advancement of the technology in the desktop and personal computing spaces. Pretending that if IBM had had their way would have been any different, it is fairly dishonest.

After all IBM was the company which until recently still expected customers to pay twice as much for half the performance.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: imprint indeed
by demetrioussharpe on Thu 11th Mar 2010 15:37 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: imprint indeed"
demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

No, there was never an OS/2 NT. Or at least nothing that was further from vaporware.

NT and OS/2 are mostly unrelated codebases. In fact, OS/2 from a technical stand point was not that impressive of a design. And had some craptastic bad design decision, as exposed by the fantastically hard time IBM had porting OS/2 to PPC (the hacks that were required ended up being legendary).

As bad as MS have been in slowing the advancement of the technology in the desktop and personal computing spaces. Pretending that if IBM had had their way would have been any different, it is fairly dishonest.

After all IBM was the company which until recently still expected customers to pay twice as much for half the performance.



You are incorrect. When NT began development, it was billed as the next version of OS/2. It's development name is OS/2 NT. It wasn't rebadge as Windows NT until much later in development, but before release. This was during the time that Windows started gaining popularity (I think it was around Windows 3.0). This is also why MS & IBM parted ways. After the MS/IBM split, IBM took their original portion of the codebase & MS took the NT codebase that had be refitted with Window's personality. Most people don't even realize that NT is actually a completely different OS that just ACTS like Windows. This feature is how they originally planned to take OS/2 to the next level.

You need to brush up on your IT history. Before you try to correct someone, get your facts straight.

Reply Score: 1

Laurence
Member since:
2007-03-26

[in relation to the future of Windows article]

You can tell Richard Brodie is a Microsoft employee as his opinion reads more like marketing spiel than anything else.

The next huge shift in home computing is the transition from the cable box to the streaming video player, saving the end user a large monthly subscription fee. Microsoft has known this for years, producing Media Center Editions of Windows way ahead of the curve.


Somewhat overstating the facts there.
Windows Media Centre was one of many products leading the curve - not a standalone product pioneering the curve.

The fact is Linux and OS X also had media centres at the same time as WMC.
Even a 3rd party hack for the XBox original (XBMC) was being developed around the same time.

Where WMC stood out was simplicity (which MythTV sadly wasn't) and compatibility with TV tuners (which, bar MythTV, most media centres didn't (and many still don't) support).

However even then, XP WMC edition was far from perfect. However (and for once) MS did a good job on the interface and ease of instillation and thus WMC was understandably a more attractive solution compared to many of the then current rivals.

As to the threat from open source software, the problem remains the same as always. With no revenue, there is no money for marketing, sales, or support. All three of those, despite the pipe dreams of software engineers, are required for a product to be successful. Windows in particular requires a huge amount of pre-release testing because it attempts to work with such a wide variety of third-party hardware. That’s expensive.


Open source does have revenue, marketing (albeit for enterprise solutions), sales and support despite what he states. Granted the distribution and revenue model is somewhat different - but let's not pretend they don't exist altogether.

Open source also has a huge amount of pre-release testing - but I'm willing to concede he has more of a point given that there often is no standard from one developer to the next as to what constitutes as a release and plus there's a whole heap of software that's perpetually in beta despite being mostly stable enough for production use.
Thus so many newbie Linux users are either unaware they they're using, or simply have no choice but to use pre-release software.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Eddyspeeder
by Eddyspeeder on Fri 12th Mar 2010 13:56 UTC
Eddyspeeder
Member since:
2006-05-10

[quote]And despite that success, it has not dampened the continued creativity of companies like Apple, Google, or others as pc technology continues to evolve.[/quote]

Perhaps not, but it did dampen the success of Be, Netscape, and others as Microsoft strived towards annihilating them. So it's not all candy-floss and and toffee apples.

Other than that, great article. Mr. Trower makes a strong point to clarify how the UI could not have been stolen from Apple. I'm finally able to get a more nuanced view on this issue. Thank you!

Reply Score: 1