The improbably named Ole Eichhorn has written a great piece detailing the frustration of Windows developers and pro users.
It’s titled, interestingly enough, Shorthorn, and while some wags might suggest that this is the new name for Longhorn, given that WinFS, .Net, and a host of other promised features are apparently not making it into the first release version of the next major iteration of the Windows story, Ole is suggesting that Microsoft actually come out with a limited-objective fix-the-basic-problems version of Windows instead of trying to solve world peace in code.
I have to say that Longhorn is really (from a complete outsider’s point of view) exhibiting all the classic signs of a software project train wreck. Huge project, dropping originally-planned goals like raindrops in a Seattle sky, slipping from deadline to deadline with all the panache of a 3rd grader whining about his dog-eaten homework … yikes.
I do not, not, not, not envy those frontline code monkeys on the Windows front lines right now. I have been in – and run – massive pressure-filled projects, but I cannot imagine the pressure on Microsoft to get this right. Coming out with a brand new version of the operating system that most of the world runs is no small order, and the opportunities for error are near-infinite. While this may not be quite the bet-the-company type of project that it might have been 5-6 years ago in an Xbox-less, SMB-software-less, and numerous-other-peripheral-businesses-less Microsoft, Windows is still the foundation stone upon which the Redmond company is built, and if Longhorn, Shorthorn, or Anyhorn lays an egg, Microsoft will be hard pressed to recover from the stumble.
It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Microsoft.
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I think no one would be willing to bet money that patches will be fast and furious and that malware guys are anxiously waiting to be the first within 10 minutes of launch at midnight to infect the first machines. MIcrosoft is going at this like they just bought WindowsOS from someone else, fired all their programmers and is trying to figure out what goes where – instead of worrying about developing OSes for cars, phones and of all things – watches – they shoudl actually work on their flagship product. Frankly, I think it’s embarassing (what they’ve already stripped out and the thing won’t ship for another 12-15 months!) and will close the book on MS’ perceived leadership in personal computers or even technology. They had a good run (legal or otherwise) and many people got rich but like the 1970’s were to GM, the 2000’s are to MS.