Microsoft: the most ridiculous software company in the world
Paul Rako - July 15, 2008
Now here are a couple of diagrams that show how poorly Microsoft does software design. My friend John Haggis has often pointed out that if people could watch software work the way you can watch a mechanical gizmo work, well, we would all die laughing. Careful readers of my blog posts have probably parsed out that I hate Microsoft. There are many reasons for this but let me touch on a few.
Microsoft is a bunch of liars. They started out that way and are that way now. My mentor told me about using the Microsoft compiler back in the early 1980s. He had a severe bug— he called Microsoft. The help person (how anachronistic, you could actually talk to somebody) told my mentor that he had never ever heard of that bug before and that he would check it out and get right back to him. Two weeks later my mentor had a friend call Microsoft. He got the exact same support person. When told of the exact same bug the Microsoft employee said “We have never ever heard of that problem before, I will be sure to look into it and get right back with you”. He never called back for either complaint.
More recently is the way Microsoft peddle their inferior products. I was in a web startup called mercanti systems back in 2000. The idea was to order online and pick up at the store. I was doing point-of-sale hardware to fulfill the order but most of the company was working on the website and shopping cart. They used Microsoft servers and Microsoft active-server-page development tools. This worked OK as long as the site and database were small. As soon as the size of things got even close to what a real store would have, the performance of the website and servers went into the trash. Microsoft promised—“Oh don’t worry, this all scales so you can just buy more servers and the performance will increase.” We bought more servers and more servers and the performance never did increase. Microsoft simply lied. I assume one problem is shown in the graphs I linked to above. Microsoft code tends to be a real patched together hackfest. Any product you build on it is certain to have trouble.
But these episodes of lying, as well as all the lies that Microsoft has been caught in when they have been in criminal trials, are just part of the reason I hate Microsoft. Another reason is that, whenever confronted by a tradeoff with doing what is best for the customer and doing what might make a little more short-term money for Bill Gates, well Microsoft always went with the short-term money. So all those pages that we wrote at mercanti not only had to be served by a Microsoft server, they could only work with a Microsoft browser. Netscape, Safari, Opera, all the other browsers did not work, and this was not an accident. Microsoft works long and hard in order to insure that their stuff does not work or play well with others. That is why Microsoft lost the lawsuit with Sun over Java. The whole point of Java was that it was supposed to work across all computers, PC, Mac, Sparc whatever. So Microsoft licensed it from Sun with the stipulation they would not change it and then just changed the language so there was now Microsoft Java and Sun Java. All this in order to handcuff people to an inferior operating system. Heaven knows Microsoft cannot compete on price or stability or performance, so they have to tie you up, stick a red rubber ball in your mouth and get medieval, all in the name of making Bill the richest man on earth. For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Ask Bill, he should know.
In addition to the lies and evil business practices, there is also the marketing BS. My brother worked at an AT&T division that made fiber optic cables. The Microsoft marketing people came in and convinced the management that the whole company had to convert to NT, and not just the front office. The million-dollar test sets running HP-Basic on HP-Unix machines had to go as well. The fundamental justification was that the management needed to have pretty emails with pictures and graphs and executable scripts and Outlook could do this. Yeah, I love the way Outlook destroyed the security of the entire planet with the way it loves to run scripts without you asking it to. And even Netscape back then would let you use HTML in email so there was a way to make pretty emails. The division was sold to Tyco that then ran it into the ground, so it was not just the Microsoft fiasco that killed it, but Microsoft sure didn’t help. When the test engineers went to classes that were trying to teach them C, since they could no longer use HP-basic, the instructor asked, “If you are doing test, why don’t you use a high-level language like HP-Basic?” Indeed.
OK, what else? Well Bill Gates is a pig and that is more than his desire to be rich by trapping everyone in his crappy OS. I have had two different friends who worked at Web TV describe a meeting with Bill where he was screaming, screaming, that what they were proposing was not going to make him money. I am sure they were proposing something good for the world, and heck, why do that when you can keep raping and plundering?
Other things in my hatred of Microsoft involve the fundamental technical incompetence of the company. There was a great interview with Linus Torvolds, where he said that he could teach nothing to Bill Gates about business, but there was nothing Bill Gates could teach him about technology. There are a couple things that pronounce Microsoft’s fundamental incompetence. One is that fact that it takes a few minutes for a computer to turn on. This is while it executes a couple billion instructions per second. The other is how you have to ask permission to turn it off. Why can’t I just flip the switch? With a journaling file system like Linux has, you can. Yet another hack is the “reboot for setting to take effect” There is no reason for that other than Microsoft has made such a tangled Gordian knot out of the code they have to start over every time you change something.
The tangled knot that is a Microsoft OS is there on purpose. See, Bill wanted to make sure that nobody could chip away at his crappy OS so he really snarled together the kernel, the OS, the window manger, the GUI, and the desktop, not to mention the browser. This way you have to have all these from Microsoft for anything to work. Linux has proper partitioning—they don’t let the desktop affect the kernel and the video system is not a free-for-all kludge that applications can make crash the OS.
And there is one other pet peeve that still causes me grief on my XP boxes. This has been a problem since Windows 95. If you highlight 100 files and drag them somewhere to copy them, the OS chugs along until it hits a file open by another program. Now, I did not ask it to modify the file, just copy it, so there is no reason to not do the copy. That is bad enough, but what really puts Microsoft in the halls of blatant incompetence with oak leaf cluster is that the OS then gives up copying all the remaining files. And since the order of copying is the order of the clusters on the disk and not alphabetically or any other way, it can takes all kinds of time to figure out what files are open and then exclude them and continue copying the files. Remember an OS is really a DOS— a disk operating system and Microsoft cannot even get this, the most basic function of an OS, right. There are a million other problems with Windows, the crashes, the security leaks and proprietary file types that were purposely designed so everybody has to buy the latest edition of Word or whatever in order to work with other people.
So there you have it, Microsoft is a bunch of liars, whom operate in criminal fashion, that uses technology to trap you instead of liberate you, all the while being technically incompetent. What’s not to love? (And to those people at Microsoft that advertise in this magazine, I am just kidding, just like you were about the scalability.)
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." —Edmund Burke