Broken Windows Theory

An interesting post from a former members of the Windows team on why he thinks Vista slipped. It's clear at this point that Vista is complicated… almost certainly more complicated than it needs to be. An architectural diagram of Windows would suggest there are more than 50 dependency layers (never mind that there also exist circular dependencies). Circular dependencies?? While Microsoft may not like UNIX, it's clear they need to understand the “UNIX way”. It's what allows a decentralized and largely uncoordinated team of disparate developers to come together and write something like the Linux kernel. A modular and logical separation of functionality brought together by standard interfaces. Windows on the other hand seems to be a jumbled mess that requires all developers to understand far too much of the puzzle. It's also telling to see just how out of control the management scheme seems to be at Microsoft. I'd guess we'll see it change drastically after Vista actually ships, but by then it may be too late. Microsoft is losing a lot of ground here. Linux is steadily gaining both ground and mind share while OS X continues to deliver features that were cut from Vista long ago. Meanwhile, Google is looming from the other direction. And that's just the beginning. The lack of innovation is finally catching up to Microsoft. They are having an extremely tough time replacing the talent they lost during the bubble and it's showing. They're playing catchup in almost every place they compete. With even their proprietary formats, one of the tried and true forms of lockin, under fire things are looking shaky at best. Don't be too worried though – with $50 billion in the bank and an entrenched install base, Microsoft isn't going away any time soon. I think it's clear though that the king-fu death grip they've hand on the industry has loosened and will never be regained. Where exactly the company goes from here is the interesting question to me. I still wonder if they can fully grasp the potential that still remains with the current leadership in place.
–jeremy
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