Revisionist Reminiscing of the Microsoft of Yesteryear

Joel recently posted acritique of Vista’s shutdown menu, declaring that more choicesare a bad thing. This was a surprizing observation given thatthe new Vista design brings the two overwhelmingly popular shutdownitems — sleep and machine lock — tofeatured interface buttons, while hiding less usedfunctionality in a pop-out menu.

Ignoring the seeming contradiction of Joel’s analysis, shortlythereafter a former MSer posted about implementing that specific feature, detailing allof the bureaucratic bunglings that led to the eventualimplementation. A widely quoted point was that at times up to twodozen people worked on this particular feature.

Is that really all that surprizing We are, ofcourse, talking about a critical UI element of theflagship of a $300 billion dollar company. In particularabout one of the most communicated and referenced features of anoperating system that will see installation on hundreds of millions(possibly over a billion) PCs.

Is it really that extraordinary that a large number ofpeople were involved I’d be surprized if it were any otherway.

Joel embraced this response, holding it asevidence that the company has lost its way, becoming thebloated monstrosity that takes 5 years to create Vista. Hecertainly isn’t the first to fondly recall the days when Microsoftwas great — Mini-Microsoft, an anonymouspersonality calling for the return to the days of old for some time(most notably calling for a significant head count reduction toreduce the bloat) has been leading the charge, alongwith a loud chorus of supporters.

Are we talking about the same Microsoft The Microsoft thatbrought out the travesty that was Windows Me The Microsoft thathad an absolutely atrocious legacy of slow tomarket, insecure, bug-ridden, ripped off products The Microsoftthat went close to a decade with negligible changes in the Officesuite?

I marvel that people can seriously reminisce about thegood ol’ days of Microsoft with a straight face.

While there is no doubt that Vista was a product timelinedisaster — though I would imagine it has far more to do withtechnological overreach and unfounded optimism than bureaucracyoverload — Microsoft has been releasing some very solid,feature-rich, secure applications with pretty goodregularity.

IIS 6. .NET 2.0. Windows 2003 R2. Visual Studio 2005. AnalysisServices. Reporting Server.

These are extraordinary products, overwhelmingly eclipsing theirofferings from the late 90s in every way.

If I had a choice between the Microsoft of yesteryear and theMicrosoft of today, I think the choice is pretty clear.