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June 11, 2005

The View From Inside the Sausage Factory

As a Microsoft employee blogger, I try hard not to reveal information I'm not supposed to reveal. Obviously I don't post source code or proprietary algorithms, but I also don't want to discuss Microsoft's future plans unless the information has already been released through an official source (marketing, VP interview, etc).

The problem is that with events like this week's Monad media happening, it can be difficult to know what has actually been officially stated.

For example, this week the official word came out that Monad would not ship in Longhorn. Or did it? The Microsoft-certified data that I know of is the PressPass interview with Bob Muglia at Tech-Ed. This has his now-famous quote: "For example, we are changing the command line environment in Windows using a new object-oriented command line technology, code-named 'Monad,' that will exceed what has been delivered in Linux and Unix for many years. It will take three to five years to fully develop and deliver."

That's all he said about Monad, as far as I can tell. Now, when Mary Jo Foley linked to that article, she linked to it with the sentence "Senior Vice President Bob Muglia acknowledged Monad won't make it into either Longhorn client or server." Then she repeated his quote as evidence, and explained that the three-to-five-year period was beyond the Longhorn ship dates.

OK, so at this point has Microsoft officially announced that Monad is not in Longhorn? Bob certainly didn't say that in the PressPass article. Did Mary Jo Foley draw that conclusion only from the fact that Longhorn is due to ship sooner than "three to five years"? That's not any kind of official statement, just an inference from an analyst. She evidently tried to get official confirmation and what she wrote was "When asked last week if Monad was still slated to be part of Longhorn, the Windows client team declined to comment. A representative with the Windows Server team said that Microsoft had not committed to a ship vehicle for Monad." Even the title of the article is "'Monad' Scripting Shell Unlikely to Debut in Longhorn"--it says "unlikely".

Meanwhile the BetaNews article that was linked to by Slashdot has the title "No New Command Line for Longhorn", which seems pretty definite. But again, the only documentation for this that the article links to is Muglia "three to five year" quote. Or look at the eWeek article. The title "No Monad, No Longhorn?" leaves some doubt, but then the text states "Microsoft tells us that Monad, Microsoft's super-duper combination shell and script language, isn't going to make it into Longhorn either". So did Microsoft say that, or is he just following the same argument that the other articles did, each one bolstering the other?

Yet Foley stated that Bob Muglia acknowledged the fact. And the BetaNews and eWeek articles both state unequivocally, in at least one place, that Monad is not in Longhorn. So I presume that Muglia said it in answer to a question, or in some other context, or someone else gave the official word. So it would be OK for me to acknowledge it as true, if I chose to do so, which I am not necessarily doing. Right? Of course right!

Then you have the question of whether Exchange 12 is going to build their command-line administration tools on Monad. In the same article, Mary Jo Foley stated "Company officials at Tech Ed confirmed that Microsoft is planning to include Monad in Exchange 12 (E12), the next version of Microsoft's Exchange product due out next year." But she has no link that backs that up (she links to a generic article about Exchange 12).

In this case, however, there is a news.com article in which Kim Akers, a marketing director, states "[Exchange Server 12] will also have improved antispam tools and support a scripting language, called Monad, which will make it easier for administrators to manage several servers at once." So that's an official announcement. And in fact in this case there was also internal email saying that it was OK to acknowledge that Exchange 12 was using Monad. So I'm on solid footing there. Yes, Exchange 12 is using Monad!

Posted by AdamBa at June 11, 2005 05:41 PM

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So what is it then? In or out? You guys can clear up the confusion pretty darned easy. And Mary talks to people who don't want things in 'quotes' too, you know. Press say no. You guys are just no comment mumbling, but then on flipside, complaining that the press reached too far. With all the reporting going on saying no, the complex dance, of "whosaidwhatwhenwherehowwhyandforwhatreason" is easy enough to clear up. If the press made a mistake, charge out there, the silence only seems to confirm it. Geepers, this say nothing, confirm nothing, make vague statements, without having any real road map or confirmations, sure does pile more on the trainwreck that is Longhorn. In all this swirl of chaos, I feel for Mary, trying to nail jello on a wall. What next? Longhorn 'unlikely' to include Longhorn? =) Monad was a real Longhorn selling/marketing point (for a certain market segment), not standing up when the shots are fired, is quite telling.

Posted by: Christopher Coulter at June 12, 2005 02:05 AM

"It will take three to five years to fully develop and deliver."

I guess when I read that it doesn't necessarily preclude Monad from shipping with Longhorn. "FULLY" could mean that V1.0 ships with Longhorn and Exchange12 but V3.0 will ship in 3-5 years and he considers something like a V3 the "fully" developed version.

My guess is that the inclusion in Longhorn hasn't had a final decision yet.

Posted by: Sean McLeod at June 12, 2005 03:24 AM

Well, usually when somebody talks about developing and delivering, there is no need to say "Fully". I mean you cannot half deliver a car. (At least not a working one)

Of course this is Microsoft and it is know to never make things right with version 1.0 and reaching usable state about version 3.0

So I understand this speech as preparation that yet another technology COULD be dropped. This also states that IF it is included in Longhorn it won't be what it is expected to be.

In short it states that things are going bad.

Adam, instead of complaining how bad reporters are, I recomend you to contact "Senior Vice President Bob Muglia " and ask him what did he meant to say and why he is not disproving these articles.
An email could be enough.

Posted by: Ivan at June 12, 2005 06:19 AM

To clarify, I am NOT complaining about Mary Jo Foley (that was a couple of weeks ago). In fact I am not really directing my annoyance at anybody in particular, just the general issue that it is hard to know what has been "officially" stated. But certainly it is more the fault of Microsoft than reporters. It's frustrating for reporters, it's frustrating for me (of course I'm actually having only secondary frustration since I do know the inside story, my concern is what I can blog about).

Christopher, I'm sure Foley talks to many people off the record, but in those cases she would say "sources tell me..." or something. Here she specifically said that Bob Muglia acknowledged it. I assume this means she heard him say it...but there's no way for me to be sure of that.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at June 12, 2005 01:02 PM

"microsoft does not comment on rumors" *snicker*

Posted by: anonymous at June 12, 2005 03:26 PM

Your guess is that the inclusion in Longhorn hasn't had a final decision yet? Hahahha. You that naive? Easy enough to read the corporatespeak and reaction. Monad is out of Longhorn period. If such was false, they'd be out in force, day of -- the PR army, clean-up crews and bloggers would machine-gun unload on any press offenders. And they haven't done that. The hum and hawing says the decision was made eons ago, and someone "slipped up" and everyone else is running for cover, and flagging up the '3 to 5 years' smokescreen. Basic traffic analysis is a trick reporters pick up early on. You may not know the story, may have a good idea, but the reaction after you shoot all around the target says it all. =) And, historically at least, Mary doesn't rely on only one source, so even if one person acknowledged it, that is never the full picture. Well enough on that. Shame, but life goes on, not the end of the world, and Monad will hit sometime. =)

Posted by: Christopher Coulter at June 13, 2005 01:42 AM

I agree, it is easy to write about the smoke screen. How about getting rid of it?

Posted by: Cyanbane at June 14, 2005 12:56 PM