A rantbox

How to shutdown Vista

Joel on Software had a nice piece on the new Vista's shutdown choices. It begins with the menu items in the Start menu [sic! ;)]:

The menu in Windows Vista for turning off the computer

This makes for 9 choices [7 in the menu and those two icons]. He goes on counting hotkeys etc, getting the total to about 15 different ways of shutting down your laptop. Sounds a bit overdone right? You could wrap up various of the choices into more task-oriented [and user-friendly] options, like "sleep" and "hibernate" into one, sleeping first and hibernating after some minutes [which normal users know the difference between those two?]. For his complete wrap-up of the choices - he gets it down to one option: "b'bye", check the original article.

The fun thing is, three days later he posted How many Microsofties does it take to implement the Off menu?, in which he linked a response from a former microsoftie who worked at that specific functionality. For a year. The answer to the question in the title of that posting is:

So that nets us a conservative estimate of 24 people involved in this feature.

... not counting the management layers in between the various working groups working on the matter [which would make it to a grand total of about 43 people]. The reason so many people are involved and the long timespan of "designing" this menu is the sheer bureaucracy Microsoft seems to have accumulated in the years after they took over the world:

The only way Microsoft has managed to hire so many people has been by lowering their hiring standards significantly. In the early nineties Microsoft looked at IBM, especially the bloated OS/2 team, as a case study of what not to do; somehow in the fifteen year period from 1991 - 2006 they became the bloated monster that takes five years to ship an incoherent upgrade to their flagship product.

[According to Joel]. Also, the way they've set up their tree of code repositories and the policies of merging their changes up and down the lines doesn't seem to help much [see that response]:

In Windows, the node I was working on was 4 levels removed from the root. The periodicity of integration decayed exponentially and unpredictably as you approached the root so it ended up that it took between 1 and 3 months for my code to get to the root node, and some multiple of that for it to reach the other nodes. It should be noted too that the only common ancestor that my team, the shell team, and the kernel team shared was the root.

So, while it seems Vista has some improvements over its ancient predecessor, seeing Microsoft's business structure it's no surprise so many features where axed. Basically they now release an XP with a new graphical shell [kinda neat, but we have that at unix too, not to forget MacOS X], some more security, a new version of our beloved Internet Exploder [which is also available for XP] and another need to get accustomed to the revamped widgets.

So far for many years of "innovating".