When we hit the reset button for a video game, we do not throw away the game. We do not forget what we have learned, either. I thought about this very very recently….
I mean, everyone knows that Cairo is a project that never shipped. But those who were there (and others!) know how large parts of what was Cairo still made it into products.
And everyone knows that the database project called Omega was a worthless piece of something that never shipped, But those who were there (and others!) know how large parts of what was Omega made it into Access and Jet.
(There are many other examples, but I wanted to get to the point — feel free to fill in examples you may know of!)
Now everyone knows that the original version of Longhorn that was shown off at the PDC a few years ago was one that prominently featured Avalon visuals and Indigo and WinFS and so many managed interfaces around what previously only sported unmanaged ones. And everyone knows about the “Longhorn reset” and how it pretty much did cause the project to start over from the Server 2003 code base.
HOWEVER, the one thing everyone knows (but never mentions in the context of arguments from mini-Microsoft and others) is that a ton of the work that was done in that old Longhorn tree is still going to be released.
They also do not point out that the refactoring is letting a lot of it ship downlevel, too — things like Avalon and Indigo and WinFS. This is something that was clearly not part of the original plan.
People talk about OS updates as if they ought to happen every couple of years. This was easier when they were two entirely different teams working on MS operating systems (the Win9x team and the NT team), but has proven to be a lot harder in the post-9x world. Yet no one seems to want to notice that OS releases from each group used to indeed take that kind of time, the kind of time it is taking. It is too easy for the pundits of the world to denounce changes and resets to get a lot of hits in an article, or for others to go on about the lack of accountability of execs who were involved.
The truth, however, is that no one has a clue.
If I do well on my review or poorly, if I get tremendous bonuses or nothing but cost of living increases or worse, NO ONE KNOWS other than those I tell or those who are in my management chain. So if execs were punished for waiting too long for the reset, how on earth would we know? They certainly would not tell me, as I do not know any of them personally and none of them report to me. And they have even more reason than I do to keep such things private and not share with those who will tell the tales, given the way the online press will latch on to anything to get more viewers.
I know developers at Microsoft who jokingly used to call the old Longhorn plan as another Cairo, to which I suggested that perhaps that was more of a Cairo.Net. And they laughed and did not disagree.
But people are not saying it now, about the Vista direction — and those developers who made the original claims were not surprised by the reset, or by the adjustment. And they were not surprised by the fact that we are seeing so much of the technology that was “lost” stuck into Vista and into downlevel Windows as well. Because THAT is how Microsoft works.
The trouble I have is that there are so many people who understand every single point I have made in this post and even agree with most or all of it, but do not look at all of the points at once….
We are seeing more than ever before, and we are showing so much of it in public. So why are we not learning?