The Longhorn crisis

Well, I am personally tired of debating why to choose Macs over PCs. In every respect there are just two types of computer users: those who once lost their data and those who will loose their data. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Mac or a PC where your data was on…

But if you have been thinking about Microsoft vs. Apple vs. Linux/UNIX have a look at this article called »Windows officially broken«. It describes internal struggle of Microsoft to lay out the technical basis of their next OS release (once called Longhorn, now called Vista). If the article is correct, then Microsoft needed to completely depart from the culture that made them big once: total pragmatism vs. thoughtful engineering. Yes, get that: this article quotes several sources telling that Microsoft had been running on a flawed design for their OS for 20 years now. Longhorn started to break out in complexity and become impossible to handle.

Old-school computer science called for methodical coding practices to ensure that the large computers used by banks, governments and scientists wouldn’t break. But as personal computers took off in the 1980s, companies like Microsoft didn’t have time for that. PC users wanted cool and useful features quickly. They tolerated — or didn’t notice — the bugs riddling the software. Problems could always be patched over. With each patch and enhancement, it became harder to strap new features onto the software since new code could affect everything else in unpredictable ways.

In other words: Microsoft’s way of doing their core business is outdated and flawed. The Windows OS project got out of hand and needed to be started over. While doing this, Microsoft looses time to competitors like Google (for web applications) or Apple (for their OS) that have been adopting stricter development routines and step-by-step approaches earlier.






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