What would Raymond Chen say?

I just read a post from Karl Seguin on CodeBetter (quoting Frans, who quoted Soma) that Visual Studio 2002 and 2003 will not run on Windows Vista. Or to quote Soma directly:

However, we will not support Visual Studio .NET 2002 or Visual Studio .NET 2003 as development environments on Windows Vista. You can continue to use Visual Studio .NET 2002 or 2003 on Windows XP to develop applications that can run on Windows Vista.

And how will they be ensuring that VS 2005 is a great development platform for Vista?

Visual Studio 2005 SP1 will run on Vista but will likely have a few compatibility issues.

Uh huh. So the premier IDE for Microsoft development will work on the Vista with “a few compatibility issues”, while the only good IDEs for developing and maintaining ASP.net 1.1 applications will just not work. At all.

What were they thinking?

It looks like Joel Spolsky’s analysis of the situation within Microsoft has really come true. In How Microsoft Lost the API War, Joel identified two camps within Microsoft: the Raymond Chen camp, committed to maintaining software compatibility between versions of the operating system, even if it meant inserting custom API hacks just to make sure that a poorly-programmed SimCity would still work. Said Raymond:

I could probably write for months solely about bad things apps do and what we had to do to get them to work again (often in spite of themselves). Which is why I get particularly furious when people accuse Microsoft of maliciously breaking applications during OS upgrades. If any application failed to run on Windows 95, I took it as a personal failure. I spent many sleepless nights fixing bugs in third-party programs just so they could keep running on Windows 95.

This attitude towards maintaining program compatibility continued through XP. And we are not talking about Microsoft-developed applications, intended to make Microsoft more money. We are talking about third-party games, VB6 apps, old DOS console apps. You name it.

The other camp is the “MSDN Camp” – eternally committed to releasing (and rereleasing, and patching) the newest and greatest technology, compatibility be damned. And as Joel pointed out, starting with VB 6.0 to VB.net, IIS 5.0 to IIS 6.0, new Microsoft products were no longer fully compatible with old ones.

Which brings us to today. Microsoft has made the decision to completely abandon a program which is still used by a very large number (if not most) of programmers who develop for Microsoft technology. Why?

Given the customer feedback that we’ve received since the launch of Visual Studio 2005 indicating the manageability of upgrading from Visual Studio .NET 2003 to Visual Studio 2005, we are focusing our efforts on ensuring VS 2005 is a great development platform for Vista.

Thanks Soma. But no thanks. The migration from Asp.net 1.1 to 2.0 does not work flawlessly. And even if it did (which is probably never, for many of the very complicated webapps out there coded in 1.1), why should we? Why risk breaking something that is already working? In order to use Visual Studio 2005 on Vista, which will hopefully not have too many “compatibility issues”, and will hopefully be able to handle all of our programming needs (covering any .Net framework, as long as it is 2.0)?

No thanks. Personally, unless something drastic changes, I don’t see myself switching from XP to Vista for some time to come. And I am sure that I will not be alone.

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