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March 24, 2006

The 60% Rewrite

There's been some flap about this rumor that Microsoft is going to rewrite 60% of the Vista source code. Here's one from The Inquirer (why are they calling us the Volehill? Is it a Harry Potter reference? I don't read them enough to get it).

Anyway, this augments my contention that certain members of the computer press are lacking a fundamental knowledge of how software is written, which hampers their ability to parse truth from fiction in stories like this.

First of all, it makes no sense to decide to rewrite something in order to have it ship earlier (which the article implies is the reason for the plan). You rewrite something to make it faster or more powerful or something...but NOT to make it ship sooner.

Second, imagine rewriting 60% of Vista. I mean, let's say that you divide it into 5 main pieces: base, shell, networking, filesystems, and media player. That's just something I made up and I'm not claiming it corresponds to any actual division. I missed a lot of things--but just imagine I didn't and that was a complete list, rewriting 60% of Vista means COMPLETELY REWRITING 3 of those 5. So maybe junking the shell, networking, and the filesystems and starting from scratch on those. Does that make any sense at all?

Third, this ignores the fact that Vista exists right now. There are betas you can install. New internal builds come out daily. It boots. You can surf the web. You can run applications. It supports lots of hardware. People self-host on it. It's stable. It looks nice. The demos are real. It's not 40% real and 60% needs-to-be-rewritten. It's really there.

Posted by AdamBa at March 24, 2006 03:50 PM

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since when does anyone expect the press to get technical stuff correct? hell they can't even predict the weather 24 hours in the future 95% of the time..

if a person whose sole job is to predict the weather, can't predict the weather 24 hours into the future, how can anyone expect someone that doesn't know what they're talking about (journalists) to accurately report on something they know nothing about (technology)?

mainstream tech stories are always stupidly wrong, especially if the stupid journo seems to think they are to exposing some kind of mistake or error on the part of an easily recognizeable entity.

Posted by: jeremiah at March 24, 2006 08:05 PM

The INQ have referred to MSFT as "The Vole" for years -- the origins are a bit obscure, but it's become a reasonably well-established and vaguely common nickname now.

Posted by: Mat Hall at March 27, 2006 04:19 AM

I believe "the vole" was a character from Quake. Why? I don't know.

The Inquirer likes to use nicknames for other comanies (Intel = Chipzilla, AMD = Chimpzilla, etc).

Posted by: Bob Devine at March 28, 2006 06:09 PM