(Via Slashdot) There’s lots of buzz about Rob Guth’s article in the Friday Wall Street Journal – Battling Google, Microsoft Changes How It Builds Software:
Jim Allchin, a senior Microsoft Corp. executive, walked into Bill Gates’s office here one day in July last year to deliver a bombshell about the next generation of Microsoft Windows.
“It’s not going to work,” Mr. Allchin says he told the Microsoft chairman. The new version, code-named Longhorn, was so complex its writers would never be able to make it run properly.
The news got even worse: Longhorn was irredeemable because Microsoft engineers were building it just as they had always built software. Throughout its history, Microsoft had let thousands of programmers each produce their own piece of computer code, then stitched it together into one sprawling program. Now, Mr. Allchin argued, the jig was up. Microsoft needed to start over.
The rest of the story illustrates how bad it was and how they did start over to good effect:
On July 27, Microsoft shipped the beta of Longhorn — now named Windows Vista — to 500,000 customers for testing. Experience had told the Windows team to expect tens of thousands of reported problems from customers. Instead, there were a couple thousand problem reports, says Mr. Rana, the team member.
And last month, Microsoft delivered a test version of Mr. Gates’s WinFS idea — not as a part of Longhorn but as a planned add-on feature. Microsoft this month said it would issue monthly test versions of Windows Vista, a first for the company and a sign of the group’s improved agility.
It could take years before Windows can be as flexible as Microsoft needs it to be to pump out new features quickly. But the cultural shift is in swing. Hours after showing off Windows Vista to software makers this month, Mr. Gates in an interview noted how Microsoft’s Office group is now using some of Mr. Srivastava’s tools to improve its code. “It’s amazing the invention those guys have brought forward,” he said. “I wish we’d done it earlier.”