Sunday, June 4, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

What Really Happened With Vista

Terry Crowley (via Hacker News):

Microsoft badly misjudged the underlying trends in computer hardware, in particular the right turn that occurred in 2003 to the trend of rapid improvements in single-threaded processor speed and matching improvements in other core elements of the PC. Vista was planned for and built for hardware that did not exist. This was bad for desktops, worse for laptops and disastrous for mobile.

[…]

The bet on C# and managed code included a strategy that reduced investments in the core unmanaged Win32 layers. I remember long meetings trying to get Windows to commit to relatively minor investments in text and graphics features that Office needed. Pulling these C# components out of the release made it even more obvious that Windows would be going years with very little improvement in core user interface controls for developers (like Office) on their main Win32 API.

Also catastrophically, the bet on Avalon had been paired with a major disinvestment in IE. The IE team was gutted to staff Avalon and IE was left on life support struggling to address the torrent of security issues cascading in.

[…]

Avalon’s model was based on this focus to realize Bill’s vision and provide a universal canvas runtime for applications. […] By only exposing functionality at a very high level, they made all their work essentially unavailable to more sophisticated applications (like the Office apps) that would like to tie in at lower levels.

Previously: Complexity and Strategy in Microsoft Office.

2 Comments

Could it be that the limitations of PowerPC were a blessing in the end? Apple couldn't have splurged on extravagant software architectures that were scooping up supposedly upcoming improvements in the hardware. By 2005-2006 they were also working on iPhone already, so in the places where decisions were made it imparted even more focus on programming for actual features that are needed, not chasing wind mills.

And WinFS, I couldn't find the original place I've read it, but at Microsoft they were gobsmacked when Spotlight was released. It was what WinFS was supposed to do for Windows. But it was a simple daemon, not a filesystem, nothing like WinFS. Microsoft had nothing with which to respond.

"Could it be that the limitations of PowerPC were a blessing in the end? Apple couldn't have splurged on extravagant software architectures that were scooping up supposedly upcoming improvements in the hardware."

Isn't it more likely that the cleanliness of the foundation Avie Tevanian provided accounts for the difference?

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