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.

Items of Interest: 2006.04.25

Things I found interesting on April 25, 2006:

Where Vista Fails

Paul Thurotte has just completed his five part review of the latest beta release of Windows Vista, build 5308, the first “feature complete” release of Vista to reviewers.

Through the first four parts of the review (1, 2, 3, 4), Paul described what seemed like some pretty exciting stuff that he was seeing in Vista for the first time:

  • Expanded driver coverage
  • A system he could actually use for day-to-day tasks
  • Improved Install
  • New Applications
  • New Features (Calender, Photo Gallery, Defender, etc)

After finishing part 4, I was beginning to think that maybe Microsoft was finally on the road to producing a usable operating system to replace XP, that featured some actual improvements to the user experience.

And then Paul goes and rips them a new one with Part 5. Considering that this piece was written by a technical writer/reviewer who has a history of enthusiastically supporting Microsoft and their products, what Paul writes is even more of a shocker.

Some choice quotes:

Shame on you, Microsoft. Shame on you, but not just for not doing better. We expect you to copy Apple, just as Apple (and Linux) in its turn copies you. But we do not and should not expect to be promised the world, only to be given a warmed over copy of Mac OS X Tiger in return. Windows Vista is a disappointment. There is no way to sugarcoat that very real truth.


The bad news, then, is that UAP (User Account Protection) is a sad, sad joke. It’s the most annoying feature that Microsoft has ever added to any software product, and yes, that includes that ridiculous Clippy character from older Office versions. The problem with UAP is that it throws up an unbelievable number of warning dialogs for even the simplest of tasks. That these dialogs pop up repeatedly for the same action would be comical if it weren’t so amazingly frustrating. It would be hilarious if it weren’t going to affect hundreds of millions of people in a few short months. It is, in fact, almost criminal in its insidiousness.


In Windows Vista, Microsoft has broken Media Center. It’s a horrid update to a wonderful bit of software, an ugly stepchild of beautiful parents. It’s so bad, I don’t even know where to start. But I’ll try.

And on and on and on. I urge you to read the entire essay, it is worth it. Paul describes the general and specific areas where Microsoft has failed so far in their handling of Windows Vista, its ever changing feature set, broken promises and bad user interface design. Heck, he even calls out Bill for his part in the debacle that is also known as Vista:

Sadly, Gates, too, is part of the Bad Microsoft, a vestige of the past who should have had the class to either formally step down from the company or at least play just an honorary role, not step up his involvement and get his hands dirty with the next Windows version. If blame is to be assessed, we must start with Gates. He has guided–or, through lack of leadership–failed to guide the development of Microsoft’s most prized asset. He has driven it into the ground.

This is a wakeup call if I have ever seen one. Hopefully someone over there is listening.