Covering Microsoft in the late 1990’s I discovered that the Redmond troops were much more forthright then the executive suite – particularly when a quality storm around their software was raging. Think of the debilitating outbreak of Windows and then IE worms of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Vista has been just such a quality storm. Despite Vista’s debilitating flaws the fact that Microsoft has managed to maintain its 90%++ monopoly of desktop operating systems is as much an opportunity lost story from Apple [whose MacOS is distinctly better but costs three times as much for the equivalent PC hardware+Windows ] and Linux [laughably worse than the 7 dwarts in delivering concerted action]. But also it is a testament to Windows PC users willingness to tolerate high levels of abusive performance before making any changes.
Glimpses into the Heart of Darkness – the Windows Kernel
But theRegister reporter Tim Anderson has uncovered some rare glimpses of allowed Microsoft TruthSpeak at the recent Microsoft PDC-Professional Developers Conference. Now the first part about BLOAT and Slow really resolves itself down to a problem that it is at least 10-15 years old at Redmond => .DLL Hell. This is the fact the dependencies among .DLL modules [remember there is at least 50 million lines of code for Windows 7] is just not well managed by Microsoft. The candor here was telling:
Microsoft needs small footprint versions of Windows, both for embedded use and for the GUI-free Server Core edition. The problem is that the operating system is full of internal dependencies, and as Russinovich admitted: “We don’t really understand those dependencies”.
MinWIN is a version of Windows that has been designed for embedded and small footprint apps – and it is delayed because the problem of .DLL Hell has lingered so long within Windows.
But theRegister writer Tim Anderson notes that there is a second problem cluster, reliability, that plagues Windows. Anybody that has used Windows for a)a long period of time and/or b)with multiple different apps[7-15 on the taskbar] and/or c)with a mix of network and WiFi connections – will see remote connections unaccountably lost, memory usage slowly but surely rise, response time decrease, and the system finally freeze up. This brings to mind the old Microsoft Support Line Refrain – “if it doesn’t work after this, just reboot the system, and everything should be restored”. Here Microsoft is less candid and more accusative laying blame actively on developers. However, given that many of those same developers are also producing Mac and/or Linux systems where such lingering degradation is just not present brings the lie to the surface – there are Microsoft system deficiencies as well as developer short comings.
My thanks to Tim Anderson and theRegister for this important reporting.