Bloodied Windows 7 Details

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.

These Windows problems have a worrying echo at Redmond – the delay in bringing the IE browser and other Microsoft Web software up to their 10-15 year old promises to adhere to W3C and other Web standards. What is still missing are full implementations of HTML, DOM, CSS, JavaScript and other standards including deprecating long vestigial Microsoft proprietary extensions. And given the huge margins and profitability of  Microsoft, it is not a question of having the resources to resolve these problems. In effect, both developers and users for at least 20 years have been “investing in Microsoft doing the right things by their software”. Windows Vista ‘s quagmire of problems and IE lagging and lacking standards adherence are  definitive proof that Microsoft simply has not been delivering the right stuff. The question is how long can Microsoft not do the right thing without losing large percentages of users to Google Chrome, Apple MacOS, and VM-energized Solaris or Linux and other Web/Mobile software vendors. Perhaps the continuing loss of market share by the IE browser is instructive.

My thanks to Tim Anderson and theRegister for this important reporting.