This refers to the events of July last year when Windows chief Jim Allchin approached Bill Gates and told him Windows was broken. It was just too complicated, with too much legacy code, and excessive aspirations. Allchin wanted to start again on an operating system that was already a year late. His aim was to create a kernel, Linux-style, then hang bits around that, rather than knitting together lots of features in a vast patchwork quilt.
Thurrott writes :
… the software giant and its PR firm has consistently railroaded me and prevented me from sitting down with people who are knowledgeable about what happened. However, I had been briefed informally about these events, referred to internally as “the reset”. Contrary to the WSJ report, however, the reset was underway months earlier than July 2004.
Many of the company’s problems are embedded in its corporate culture, which will not be fixed by the recent reorganization into three big Divisions, replacing the previous seven, Thurrot believes :
Windows Vista, as a result, is fighting the OS battles of the last decade, reacting rather than being proactive and innovative. Mac OS X users, for example, can point to many of Vista’s features and correctly note that they appeared first on Apple’s system, sometimes years ago. For Microsoft, a company that desperately wants to be seen as an innovator, this situation is untenable.
However, Vista is now on track as an OS more like the current XP. It has fewer new features and a “less-elegant interface”. But, says Thurrott, “it’s a solid-looking release”.
Update: Robert Scoble’s take on the WSJ piece and the reaction to it : “It’s interesting to watch the reactions to the Wall Street Journal article about how messed up Windows development processes were. Many bloggers called it a ‘puff piece’ but now on Memeorandum the headlines that are attached to it say ‘Microsoft Windows Officially Broken.’ Neither view is really accurate. Windows isn’t what was broken. Windows DEVELOPMENT PROCESSES were what was broken. I really hate headline writers who don’t get the facts right and/or sensationalize a story beyond what it needs to be sensationalized. The two are different things.”