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Rewrite 60% of Windows? Hogwash!

Out of Australia comes the report that up to 60% of Windows Vista will need a rewrite.  What utter crap!  60% of Windows is millions and millions of lines of code.  You can’t rewrite that much code, and ship in January. Maybe January 2009 if a 60% rewrite is needed, but not January 2007. Perhaps Microsoft is in denial, and Vista will never ship, or perhaps reporter Dave Richards is a tad too quick to jump on "the sky is falling" bandwagon.

The fact that Steve Sinofsky has been put in charge of shipping Windows ought to be seen as good news.  Sinofsky’s smart, rational, and willing to cut and cut again to make a ship date.  Expect to see more features fall by the wayside before January.  That’s his style.  Best of all, Sinofsky’s not part of, and never has been part of, the Windows organization.  Jones, Cole, Irving, et al who all cut their teeth in Windows would have a harder time changing the culture than Sinofsky will.  

What I find so interesting about all of this is the industry’s collective willingness to suspend disbelief — the continued irrational view that Vista was going to ship in the fall in time for the Christmas season.  I’ve lived through lots of Windows launches inside Microsoft (3.1, NT 3.1, NT 3.5, Windows 95, NT 4.0, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000) and outside (Windows XP beta tester).  I love early software. I’ll put up with just about any egregious bloated crap just to see what the fuss is all about.  But you know, at this point I’ve been unable to succesfully install and use any version of the Windows Vista CTPs, or IE 7.  If Vista was really six months away from shipping, it would be a lot more finished, the way that any of those previous versions of Windows were at this stage.  Anybody who had tried Vista would have been able to come to the same conclusion I did.

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • solomonrex March 24, 2006, 10:48 am

    If it's obvious to you, then why didn't MS know that Autumn 2006 was hogwash? I don't get it.

    And I can't understand the optimism in changing management teams THIS late. If Allchin wasn't smart and rational, why has he been in charge for this product for 6 years? And does this mean Office will suck and miss shipping dates?

    More importantly can they really eliminate any more features from Vista to hit their new dates? Other than desktop search and the new look, what is there to cut?

  • Alec March 24, 2006, 2:30 pm

    Solomonrex: These things take time to percolate through the organization and for consensus to be achieved. Windows is over 5,000 people. A lot of people have probably known for a while that there were problems. It's now been officially acknowledged.

    As for changing management, well, this reminds of the Windows 2000 ship cycle when Moshe Dunie was replaced by Brian Valentine. Brian had been the guy responsible for (finally) shipping Microsoft Exchange. He came into Win2k, re-energized the team, and had everyone pull together for the final run.

  • JB March 24, 2006, 3:17 pm

    Microsoft couldn't conceivably rewrite 60% of the Vista code without breaking at least 60% of the functionality in the process! At least not in anything resembling a reasonable timeframe. I am not too upset about the slip in the ship date, since it will (hopefully) mean a better integrated, more secure product. I'm also not suprised that the date has been "revised;" it's certainly not the first time.

  • Randy Charles Morin March 25, 2006, 12:02 am

    Some suggest that 100% of Windows Vista needs rewriting :-p

  • Rog42 March 25, 2006, 2:00 am

    I'm interested that someone with such experience in Windows beta OS's such as yourself hasn't yet managed to successfully install a Vista CTP or IE7.

    I don't have anything like your experience – I have worked with all versions of Windows since 3.0, but not to beta testing, or coding level. Yet I've been running IE7 on all of our machines (XP) at home, including my kids machines (they installed it)

    As to Vista, I'm running the CTP, build 5308, and it's running successfully, with Aero Glass on a Tosh laptop. Again, simply followed the install, and it runs a charm. Office2007, now, that's showing some signs of instability, but Vista is rock solid??

    What problems are you having?

    As to Randy: Nice flippant comment, but it's not my experience actually. Vista rocks!

  • Pete West March 25, 2006, 8:22 am

    Now that OS X is on intel most of the work is done.

  • Ricky Dock March 25, 2006, 10:04 am


  • James Bailey March 25, 2006, 4:04 pm

    No one at Microsoft has read “Mythical Man Month”? They are putting more engineers on a late software project. That is going to make it later. Vista is in seriously bad trouble as any experienced software engineer will attest. This is going to be ugly.

  • Chris March 26, 2006, 4:22 am

    Humm… all this stuff about Vista not being ready/usable for/by ordinary people or developers seems odd. I say this because many of those who test/develop software are so wrapped up in their projects they often have littel time for the News. Oh sure maybe catching a cable show or two, but there are many stories not covered.

    One of those for which I no longer have a link) appeared maybe a month ago – seems that in Iran, where none of our copywrite/use laws have any effect, and where they have none of their own – Vista is in widespread use i.e. everyone uses it. The story focused on the rise of ISPs in every storefront/home.

    While this is evidently some beta, no one there seems to care. and while there must be many parts that are incomplete or buggy – It works, they use it. So since this seems to be the case – at least in Iran – why does anypart have to be rewritten, let alon 60% ?

    Food for thought

  • Alec March 26, 2006, 4:56 am

    Rog42 and Chris,

    I installed IE 7 the other day. You can read about my experience here:

    The few times I've tried to install Vista, I've had basics — like the installer failing — stand in the way. Anyway, yesterday I scrubbed one of the PC's around here, made a bootable CTP DVD from MSDN, and started it again. Seems I have a running Vista machine at the moment. I've already seen things like the "browse for drivers" window in the driver update system fail (generated a report back to MSFT). It's better than previous experiences, but I haven't used it enough to know how good it is.

  • Andrwe LAdanowski June 11, 2006, 12:57 am

    My name is Andrew Ladanowski I used to work for Tina Romeo-Salem when I was at Crosskeys. I worked for her for about 6 months to replace a lady who was on maternity leave. Could you please forward this email to her and ask her to email or call me ASAP. I need her for a reference/acknowledgement of employment.

    This is urgent

    Cheers Andrew Ladanowski

    (954) 815-2402

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