PDA

View Full Version : A problem too jumbo-sized for Bill Gates to solve?


MacBytes
May 9, 2006, 06:53 PM
http://www.macbytes.com/images/bytessig.gif (http://www.macbytes.com)

Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: A problem too jumbo-sized for Bill Gates to solve? (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20060509195311)
Description:: none

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
Approved by Mudbug

virus1
May 9, 2006, 07:05 PM
well written. i agree with it in it's entirety.

081440
May 9, 2006, 07:14 PM
Very true and quite funny.:)

But if Operating Systems are becoming too big for one company then how is Apple still churning them out? :D

blasto333
May 9, 2006, 07:21 PM
Very true and quite funny.:)

But if Operating Systems are becoming too big for one company then how is Apple still churning them out? :D

I think the main reason is Apple's OS is far more modren than Windows and is based on UNIX. (which was developed by the open source community)

As mentioned in the article, Microsoft has to make sure their OS backwards compatible. Apple solved their backwards compatiable problem with OS X.

Boggle
May 9, 2006, 07:21 PM
That piece is well conceived, organized, and stylish. It makes a very pursuasive case. Microsoft executives should ask their engineers about the validity of this argument. Yeah, that'll happen. :rolleyes:

Flynnstone
May 9, 2006, 07:26 PM
The BIG problem I see, is that of the mindset.
Linux/Unix and variants are built on the premise, make small programs (and test them) then build bigger programs on top of the smaller ones and so on. Microsoft, on the other hand, builds big monoliths. And adds complexity by too much flexibility.
It's much easier to test a small program than a big program!
An example: built a small program to interface with a hard disk controller. Now build a program that uses the previous program, but now deals with the disk drive. Next built a program on top of the previous programs that implements file system.
Now take the other approach, build one program to implement a file system that interfaces with a disk drive.
Now .. hey .. would it be cool/nice to have the file system that actually is across then network instead of a local disk! With Unix, you can change the lowest levels. With Windows, start at the beginning.

virus1
May 9, 2006, 07:28 PM
Very true and quite funny.:)

But if Operating Systems are becoming too big for one company then how is Apple still churning them out? :D
different, better structure, and jobs.

emaja
May 9, 2006, 07:34 PM
"Whatever other charges might be levelled against Microsoft, technical incompetence isn't one. If the folks at Redmond can't do it, maybe it just can't be done."

Microsoft might not be technically incompetant, but having an OS riddled with security holes and Active X controls that will - not could - allow others to access your computer was not a very smart business decision.

Legacy support is the biggest issue that holds Windows back, IMO. If they had a smaller installed user base, they could throw everything out and start fresh when they felt like it - like Apple can do.

different, better structure, and jobs.

Don't you mean Jobs? :p

fawlty
May 9, 2006, 07:35 PM
As mentioned in the article, Microsoft has to make sure their OS backwards compatible. Apple solved their backwards compatiable problem with OS X.

In fact they solved it with Classic.

DeathChill
May 9, 2006, 07:42 PM
In fact they solved it with Classic.
Yes, somewhat; not all Classic programs work. However, OS X also creates incompatibilities with the older revisions as some programs have to be recompiled and tweaked for each OS revision/release. That's not something Windows has the luxury of allowing.

Apple has it much easier as they simply are modifying the same OS over and over, while Microsoft has to build a lot from scratch as well as ensure that EVERYTHING old works. That's a really crappy situation for Microsoft, but hey, whatever. :D

noverflow
May 9, 2006, 07:44 PM
I think the main reason is Apple's OS is far more modren than Windows and is based on UNIX. (which was developed by the open source community)

UNIX was developed by bell labs for ATT. No open source there. But linux on the other hand.

ChrisA
May 9, 2006, 08:05 PM
I wonder how many large scale software project that author has worked on. Large scale being over (say) 10 million lines of code. I'd guess zero.

I disagree with the author. OSes are NOT to complex to be build by a single organization. Microsoft's problem is that they let their bussines model dictate the technical design of the software. If Windows had been designed like every other OS on Earth written sense to early 80's then vista would not be late. Every other OS is designed using the concept of "compartmetalization" (sp?) Basically you build a set of self contained parts that comunicate with each other using well defined and doccumantred interfaces and you keep these iinterfaces stable over decades long periods. For example The Linux (or Solaris or BSD) kernel has very lettle to do with the X11 diisplay system and even window managers don't jump into X11 server code they use the X11 protocol.

Microsoft's continued monopoly depends on closed, undocumented interaces and an "integrated" system. They need to remove any possabilty of some third party offering parts of the OS. We have to assume that the enginerrs at Microsoft are not stupid but we also can assume they are doing what managment says. Managment knows darn well that open, stable and documented interfaces will lead directly to interchangeable parts and that would lead to direct competition.

nterchangeable parts are what makes Linux, OS X, and unix work Each part is built in relative isolation by a smaller team. With Windows the parts interact "strongly" and this means that every team must spend much time comunicating with every other team. On large project people spend far more time in meetings on the phone and reading e-mail then they do doing ther "real work". The only solution is to chop the project into smaller parts the don't interact much. UNIX does this well. Appearently Vista does not even try.

In the end it does not matter. People will buy whatever OS Microsoft is selling because it will be pre-instaled on most every PC sold. People do not base their decision of which OS to buy on the quality of the product. Gates was right when he noticed there are far more people who kow nothing about computers than there are experts. Why not sell to the larger group?

ChrisA
May 9, 2006, 08:18 PM
UNIX was developed by bell labs for ATT. No open source there. But linux on the other hand.

Open vs. closed source has very little to do with it. It's the size of the development teams. UNIX started out very small and then was added to by other small groups. What we call "unix" today is really a huge collection of loosely interacting parts. It's the "loosely intercating" part that is it's strenght.

Open Source does matter however but indirectly. When you develope OSS there is no central management people work in small groups and can't talk to all the other small groups so the software can't make assuptions about how other software might work. The end result is that you have minimized the "riple effect" of were one small change in one place breaks software in unrelated areas. It's the decentralized organization not access to source code that make the difference. After all if you work at Microsoft Vista is open source. they all have access to Vista source just like all Linux developers have access to linux source.

hoppo99
May 9, 2006, 08:57 PM
What the article was trying to say was that it is Microsoft's monolothic and centrally controlled corporate structure in turn analogous to the structure of Windows itself that is the problem. It made the argument that a OS made piecemeal by an organisation whose structure was more akin to that of the open source community would be the better way of producing software of this size and complexity.

The article seemed to skirt around what it was trying to say without actually getting to the root of the argument: Microsoft's need to provide legacy support demanded by its corporate structure is what is holding it back. It basically needs a fresh start but due to those constrictions (which Apple didn't have with its niche market) it can't jusify it in economic terms.

macnulty
May 10, 2006, 09:06 PM
MS could end legacy support tomorrow but they will never do it because it would end the gravy train and force them to actually compete.

miniConvert
May 10, 2006, 09:19 PM
That's a pretty poor article IMHO, and I'm not sure I agree with the sentiment that operating systems are simply becoming too complicated to be manageable by a single organisation.

A big problem has to be with the hardware. MS is trying to develop OS after OS that still uses a keyboard, mouse and monitor. There are only so many new ways to present and interact with information via software when the IO hardware has barely changed.

Here, obviously, Apple are in a much stronger position. While they incrementally improve their OS they also have the hardware control that could see the birth of a new way of interaction with computers at some stage in the futre. Linux? Hell, in my view Linux doesn't even need the humble mouse, it's at its most powerful at the command line.

Bill Gates isn't solving a problem. What problem? XP is 'fine'. It does everything a Windows operating system could be expected to do, and for the things it doesn't manage so well there are third party apps in the wings. The 'problem' is that MS hasn't had a major OS release in years, and the upgrade cycle is a major cash cow.

SeaFox
May 11, 2006, 10:31 AM
Gates wont let the ship date slip again, for the business version. Even if they have to ship the most bug riddled stuff they have, they'll ship it. Their Software Assurance contacts are about to expire at the end of this year and if those customers don't get the new version of Windows as part of it they will have paid for three years of coverage and recieved nothing for their money.

Microsoft will be open for a class action lawsuit from the clients.