Make your own free website on


What do those 80,000 lines do?

 Rant Index     Home


Perhaps MS addressed the issue of new IE window sizes in a Service Pack, but my system is secure enough, I don't run anything even vaguely mission-critical, and I flatly refuse to download 5-50 Mb service packs or updates on the basis that software should work without needing massive downloads to fix everything that didn't work or didn't work correctly while the product was initially rushed out the door, despite known problems.

The interesting thing is that I've seen these service packs, updates, etc. also available from MS on free CDs, but shipping and handling is about $5.  By that measure, AOL has spent about $80 trying to get me to sign up (I have many AOL coasters), so... figure they've direct-mailed, what? 50 million CDs total?  That's probably conservative, so they've pissed away at least 4 billion dollars just mailing them?  I think not.

Obviously, I also think every user of Windows should have a stack of free CDs, saved from each mail-out of the latest set of patches and upgrades.  Of course this is an unreasonable position to take, from a business standpoint, but is it any more reasonable a position for consumers to take, that it makes perfect sense to plunk down hundreds of dollars for software we'll have to go to unreasonable trouble or expense to maintain?  Not because software is of such nature that it always 'goes bad', like the deli you got last week, or because it acquires 'wear and tear' from normal and responsible use, but because Windows is phenomenally complex and impossible for a single person to truly understand.

This is not a good situation from a design perspective.

Engineers walk the streets who completely understand the workings of engines, from the metallurgical aspects to matters of dynamic balance to petrochemical reactions, but no single person can sit down and  fully describe Windows or reproduce it given sufficient raw materials.  For every regular developer and programmer who asks, "Why on Earth does Windows do that!?", there is probably a very small percentage, if any, of the Windows team who can give an answer to each particular 'that'.

This is not to say that Windows should be so simple that a single person can encompass it all, but that anything as complex as Windows currently is must be reducible to simpler, more elegant, and more efficient principles.  Anything this complex has gotten out of hand and can only become more incomprehensible as more complex solutions are required to compensate for its shortcomings, and this can only make it more difficult for the Windows sub-teams to make its many parts work together correctly.  The designers of an engine know where all the parts go and exactly how they work together, but can the same be said for the designers of an OS like this?

It's true that no software on a large scale can be bug-proof, and Win2000 is incredibly stable, but why is it a triumph worthy of praise that they've produced a fairly stable OS?  Do you applaud the ex-bank robber for walking past a bank and not robbing it?  I'd have a higher opinion of consumers if they'd demanded an apology for all of the headaches Windows has caused.  I'd have a much higher opinion of MS if Win2000 had been offered to the public with these apologies for past sins replacing the hysterical self-congratulation that was generally aped by the many consumers with a demented and sheep-like attitude toward major pieces of software.  But maybe these are normal attitudes, and I'm the oddball.  On the other hand, Win2000 couldn't remember where my desktop windows were supposed to open.

One cannot expect wond'rous great things from a team that is literally developing they know not what.