Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 13th Jan 2018 23:53 UTC
Windows

I enjoyed reading Terry Crowley's thoughtful blog (What Really Happened with Vista). Terry worked in the Office organization and did a fantastic job covering the complex machinations that went into Windows Vista and the related but doomed Longhorn project - from an outsider's point of view.

He correctly identified many of the problems that dogged the project and I don't mean to rehash any of them here. I figured it was only fair to try to offer an insider's view of the same events. I can't hope to be as eloquent or thorough as Terry but hope to shed some light on what went wrong. Ten years have gone by since the original release date of Windows Vista but the lessons seem more relevant now than ever.

I really enjoy these stories from people involved with the Vista project. Even though we complained left and right about Vista itself, the release was still hugely important and many of Windows NT's core systems were rewritten from scratch, and we still profit from those reworks and rewrites today.

Doesn't retroactively make using Vista any less painful, though.

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Mixed blessings
by WorknMan on Sun 14th Jan 2018 03:14 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

As an end user, Vista was the best thing to ever happen to Windows, IMO. Mainly because it took so long to develop, giving us many years of platform stability, with regard to hardware drivers and software compatibility.

I honestly wish they would go back to 5+ year development cycles.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Mixed blessings
by kurkosdr on Tue 16th Jan 2018 10:22 UTC in reply to "Mixed blessings"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

As an end user, Vista was the best thing to ever happen to Windows, IMO. Mainly because it took so long to develop, giving us many years of platform stability, with regard to hardware drivers and software compatibility.

I honestly wish they would go back to 5+ year development cycles.


On the other hand, the platform stagnated to an extreme during those years, with laptops made in 2006 running a 5-year old OS. You could see OEMs trying to fill-in the functionality gaps by pre-installing third-party DVD-Video playback and DVD burning software (for example), sometimes not even trial versions but full versions so their offerings weren't so hilariously outdated (from a functionality perspective) compared to Macbooks. Also, old bugs such as USB autorun (a popular vector for malware) were treated as features and left untouched, and old dialogs stuck in the dial-up age were asking you if you wanted to check windows update for drivers instead of using it as the default option for novice users. Also the UI had started to look dated compared to what MacOS X had become at the time (which led to companies developing "layers" on top of it like Acer Arcade and all kinds of "assistants").

Edited 2018-01-16 10:31 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Mixed blessings
by WorknMan on Tue 16th Jan 2018 19:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Mixed blessings"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Yeah, I don't suggest they stick with the same release forever; that's why I say... about every 5 years. You can still add incremental things in the meantime. Just save the 'this might break some apps/devices' features for major releases. That way, I'm not looking at updates every 6 months that might break shit.

Reply Score: 1

subsider34
Member since:
2010-11-08

I've always thought Windows Vista recieved more hate that it deserved. For the amount of things it changed, it was a fantastic OS.

Now, a little context here: I migrated from Windows ME and a few Windows 2000 Professional boxes. The stability and ease of installation nearly brought me to tears. When I learned that a hard shutdown didn't guarantee I'd have to reinstall the OS (like it would in my computers running Windows 2000) I was left in a state of awe. I actually pressed the reset button several times just to check that I wasn't going crazy.

It also came with a cool little local collaboration tool (emphasis on local, it required you to be either on the same network or in the same area) called Windows Meeting Space. Now given its limitations you might not think it was very useful. Here's the thing though: it allows screen sharing and collaborative editing on any file type. And it does so at a speed not seen in consumer use until modern times (P2P collaboration bypasses those pesky limited bandwidth internet connections).

I was doing collaborative programming in Visual Studio back in the Fall of 2008 thanks to Windows Meeting Space. And the ability to collaborate on files independent of editor software made it popular for Study Groups, where people running Office, OpenOffice, and WordPad could work on the same document without issue.

It was also Microsoft's first good attempt at making a touch-enabled OS. Touchscreen calibration was still an issue, but once calibrated it was fantastic. I still have the Samsung Q1 Ultra tablet PC I used back in college. It was underpowered as hell, came with a very strange split mini-keyboard and used a thumbstick for the mouse...but features introduced in Vista like Windows Journal, actually usable writing recognition, and others made the experience novel and fun.

Reply Score: 5

davidiwharper Member since:
2006-01-01

Vista's two biggest problems were its slowness and the lack of compatible drivers. Both of these were solved easily enough (the latter just by time) and Windows 7, which technologically speaking was a minor incremental upgrade (6.0 > 6.1), was a success.

Having said that, from a user perspective Vista was pretty deficient compared with Windows XP, which by SP2 was pretty much the "gold standard" that even today many people still look back on with fondness. I recall spending much of my time in 2007 and 2008 downgrading Vista installations to XP, and 2009 and 2010 upgrading Vista machines to Windows 7, which speaks to the enduring dislike Vista engendered amongst ordinary users.

Edited 2018-01-14 11:00 UTC

Reply Score: 7

grahamtriggs Member since:
2009-05-27

I never really had a problem with Vista. Maybe in part it helped that I was using up to date hardware.

Yes, there were some annoyances, brought about by the new security model - but it was a change that was necessary, and whichever version of Windows it first surfaced in was going to cause problems.

It was a much better OS than the stopgap Windows ME.

Reply Score: 4

v Comment by sj87
by sj87 on Sun 14th Jan 2018 09:06 UTC
A little history
by davidiwharper on Sun 14th Jan 2018 10:48 UTC
davidiwharper
Member since:
2006-01-01

The story of Windows NT has always been one which merged technology, business, and politics. As the 1994 book "Showstopper" recounts, the original five year development cycle of Windows NT 1.0 (rechristened 3.1 to match with the corresponding Windows version) was all three - over 200 programmers, one of whom burned out so badly he ended up playing games instead of coding; Microsoft's desire to decouple its next-gen operating system from the OS/2 joint venture with IBM; and the draining of resources from the crucial NT development effort to fulfil Bill Gates' Cairo dream (later reimagined as WinFS, which was also abandoned). The picture which emerges is one of chaotic management which leads to poor development results. As the Harvard Business Review noted in 1994 (https://hbr.org/1994/11/control-in-an-age-of-chaos):

Such is life at Microsoft. The company is overflowing with wealth, talent, technology, and toughness. But something is missing—a soul. Its goal is dominance. Its method is brute force. Its currency is money. And Microsoft’s leader, CEO Gates, is the digital-age version of one-dimensional man.

Replace "Gates" with "Ballmer" and that quote could just as well have applied to the NT 6.0 development cycle that ended over a decade later.

Having said all of that, I agree with other posters that Windows NT 6.0 was a landmark development cycle. It may well be the last major Windows rewrite for the foreseeable future; despite Windows 10/Server 2016 having a version bump, it is still NT 6.x at its core. What is particularly impressive about the NT 6.0 development cycle is that the architecture-independent legacy of Windows NT (NT 4.0 ran on four major platforms of its era) was sufficiently preserved to allow for NT 6.3 (Windows 8) to be ported to ARM for Windows RT and Windows Phone. Although these ports were a business failure, they were technically amazing and that was only possible because of the engineering legacy from both the original NT development cycle and the 6.0 rewrite chronicled here.

Edited 2018-01-14 10:49 UTC

Reply Score: 7

One thing Vista brought us
by Moochman on Sun 14th Jan 2018 12:01 UTC
Moochman
Member since:
2005-07-06

Vista at least brought us something to laugh about (in retrospect): https://xkcd.com/612/

Reply Score: 8

v Vista's most important lesson
by Dr.Cyber on Sun 14th Jan 2018 15:37 UTC
Includes all your favourites!
by Vanders on Sun 14th Jan 2018 19:23 UTC
Vanders
Member since:
2005-07-06

Remember the classic hits:

WinFS
Converged platform
Managed code will solve everything

Order your copy of The Lament of Microsoft today!

Edited 2018-01-14 19:24 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Channel9 video
by Em_te on Mon 15th Jan 2018 08:21 UTC
Em_te
Member since:
2014-07-23

My most ingrained memory of Vista was from one of their Channel9 videos of them developing the audio language and startup sounds for Vista.

They invited a few testers to walk around a studio to explore the audio environment while a band was composing music.

It was a totally different culture back then.

Reply Score: 2

real thread primitives
by bnolsen on Tue 16th Jan 2018 13:50 UTC
bnolsen
Member since:
2006-01-06

Before vista threading didn't work reliably on windows. No condition variable support, just a hack that would intermittently fail. With vista basic thrading could mostly be trusted and MS finally made it into the 21st century with their OS.

Windows itself still doesn't come close to linux system (for example) for very highly threaded computational workloads as it still requires scheduled reboots or it goes wonky. There's more than one reason as to why linux owns the top 500 supercomputers...

Edited 2018-01-16 13:54 UTC

Reply Score: 0

Anti Virus Anti Trust
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 16th Jan 2018 15:32 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

The Windows insdier mentions the charges from the antivirus people t hat Micrsoft was being anti competitive by removing access to dangerous kernel level access.

That was only half of the complaint. Deliberately exluding the other part is crass, and low of that guy. Microsoft was debuting its own anti virus at the same time. That's what made everything look really fishy.

Hey: we're going to break all of your programs, introduce a new api to use, and uhm We are now competing with you with a tool developed in house that has had access to the api documents for a couple years now. Have fun!

Now anti virus companies are terrible, no doubt, but that was still a terrible way to treat outside vendors.

Reply Score: 0

Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Wed 17th Jan 2018 23:15 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

BTW, who is the dense idiot that is downvoting everyone, can Thom have a look? The previous couple of comments are perfectly fine yet they have 0 or 1 score.

Reply Score: 2

Not that bad
by zima on Thu 18th Jan 2018 01:31 UTC
zima
Member since:
2005-07-06

After Service Pack, Vista got quite decent (maturing by then drivers helped) - there was relatively little reason to upgrade to Win7, which was not much more than "Vista SE" with a "lucky" name...

Reply Score: 2