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Dell Documents Reveal Microsoft's Pre-launch Vista Errors 220

Posted by Zonk
from the don't-change-horses-midstream dept.
twitter writes "The New York Times has a piercing analysis of documents from the Vista capable lawsuit. The documents show that Microsoft seems to have put a wrench in Vista's driver situation only at the last minute. 'Late OS code changes broke drivers and applications, forcing key commodities to miss launch or limp out with issues,' said one slide in a Dell presentation dated March 25, 2007, about two months after Vista's launch at retail and availability on new PCs.' We have all heard the lazy vendors don't believe Vista will launch excuses but few of us have heard Steven Sinofsky, chief of Windows development, second and third opinions. 'Massive changes in the underpinnings for video and audio really led to a poor experience at RTM,' he said. 'This change led to incompatibilities. For example, you don't get Aero with an XP driver, but your card might not (ever) have a Vista driver.' Finally, said Sinofsky, other changes in Vista blocked Windows XP drivers altogether. 'This is across the board for printers, scanners, WAN, accessories and so on. Many of the associated applets don't run within the constraints of the security model or the new video/audio driver models.'
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Dell Documents Reveal Microsoft's Pre-launch Vista Errors

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  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Monday March 03, 2008 @05:45PM (#22628306) Journal
    All the more reason to avoid release dates. Whether it's completely arbitrary, or it's an estimate given by a developer, release dates only result in two things: Making people rush, and making products late or not as advertised.

    I can understand a statement such as "We hope for our product to be ready by [date]" or "We're aiming for a possible launch window of [date]", but to say "Our product will be available on this date" only puts pressure on those lower down the totem pole, and can result in a lot of lost features or quality assurance.

    Conversely, this should not be used to infer the Duke Nukem Forever will be an awesome game if it is ever released.
  • Re:Security (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plague3106 (71849) on Monday March 03, 2008 @05:50PM (#22628356)
    Sorry, I disagree. The design had a flaw, but that doesn't mean the design overall is bad, nor does it indicate "horrible project management." People make mistakes, people miss things. Sorry, it happens, but to act like YOU would never have it happen to you is pretty silly. No one is perfect.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday March 03, 2008 @05:51PM (#22628362)
    You can always provide some sort of compatability environment for drivers. There is no reason why they did not provide an XP driver support mechanism.

    If ndiswrapper can run XP drivers in Linux, then surely MS could have run XP drivers with no problems at all.

  • Microsoft... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Monday March 03, 2008 @05:53PM (#22628386) Journal
    Perhaps, one day, when competition re-emerges in the OS marketplace, microsoft will have to clean up their act. Until that day, and as long as people keep giving microsoft their money, nothing will change.

    It is too bad that so many people who would benefit from reading /. are the people who laugh at those who do ...
  • by imaginaryelf (862886) on Monday March 03, 2008 @05:57PM (#22628438)
    You find me customers who's willing to shell out dollars or plan their dependencies for some nebulous release date.

    Or you can try that when you have to pay your bills, "Yeah, we'll make our best effort to pay that mortgage on the 10th."

    The world doesn't work that way.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:00PM (#22628488) Journal
    I don't understand it either. Why not build a wrapper and sandbox it? If there are security concerns, that ought to solve it. Sure, it might rob some performance, but on a bloated monster like Vista with its processor and RAM hunger, I can't imagine that this would have wrecked the experience that much.

    You know, everyone goes around saying "open source only copies, never innovates" and yet you have an (admittedly kludgy) solution to the problem of driver availability that have been forced by uncooperative hardware vendors that does work and does allow older hardware to function. Microsoft has all the kernel sources at their disposal and doesn't have to reverse engineer to get something like ndiswrapper running, and yet instead they shut out a lot of older hardware in one fell swoop.

    There just doesn't seem to be much logic to what Redmond does. I can understand the vampiric murderous monopoly that wants to destroy any and all competition, but the design choices they make are bizarre. It's not as if Windows is some elegant masterpiece that they don't want to clutter kludges to keep older things running. Christ, the operating system has been like that since Windows 95.

    The really sad thing is that it is closed source, so no one will ever be able to create that sort of an environment to get this hardware working.
  • by mikeabbott420 (744514) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:01PM (#22628510) Journal
    There are only two kinds of software: released too early and never released at all.
  • Re:Security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:04PM (#22628542) Journal
    We're not talking about the odd video card or printer. We're talking about shutting out a lot of older hardware, and then, rather than admitting a fuck up, basically blaming the manufacturers (though I'm sure there's plenty of blame to heap there).

    The fact of the matter, and this is only getting driven home ever more with these revelations, is that Vista was released prematurely, before adequate time to test and correct various issues could be taken. Microsoft and the manufacturers needed to get this beta operating system to market to try to force new computer purchases. The unholy OEM alliance between the big manufacturers and Microsoft is coming home to roost.

    Not only that, but it's a gas to watch the chaos that surrounded the final months before Vista's premature birth.
  • by wampus (1932) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:04PM (#22628546)
    I just looked through the article. DRM and "digital rights" searches both turned up nothing. What the hell are you talking about?
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:08PM (#22628582) Journal
    First of all, FOSS developers often have to reverse engineer the Win32 driver model to create something like ndiswrapper, and it's pretty amazing what they can do. I'd love to see more compatibility layers so that uncooperative manufacturers can be bypassed.

    Microsoft doesn't have this particular problem. They do have the XP kernel sources in hand, and for them building a compatibility layer would be much much easier than for some FOSS developer. And why shouldn't Microsoft? They're the ones pushing this bloody operating system.
  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:08PM (#22628588) Journal

    Or you can try that when you have to pay your bills, "Yeah, we'll make our best effort to pay that mortgage on the 10th."

    The world doesn't work that way.
    Except that paying bills, an obligation to having and continuing to have a service or receiving goods, is not the same as marketing software.

    Yes, having a firm release date may snag more customers, but you have to look at the end product and decide if the backlash will outweigh the praise.
  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:09PM (#22628610)
    When coordinating with the CD presses and the OEM's, distributors, and other companies (like NVidia or ATI) that rely on the release date, that's just not possible. For smaller projects, you can pull stuff like that. For one of the most widely used pieces of software in the world, you need to plan ahead.
  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:10PM (#22628620)

    Remember, though, MS had sold all those software upgrade contracts with the stated timeline of having the new version out before they expired, this is why Vista was released to business before the user version was available.

    Delivering an item on time and not "when it's ready" can be worth gobs more money to people who like to be able to contain risk. Look at how poorly Apple fares in the business market, for many reasons, but a big one is that they're pretty secretive about their development roadmap and you can't make million-dollar decisions based on Apple's stated trajectory (notice the recent deafening silence over the Xserve RAID EOL and iPhone SDK delay).

    Not to say secrecy doesn't pay dividends in consumer segment, but consumers have always been the barnacle on the MS ship.

  • Re:Security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:12PM (#22628632) Journal
    Oh for fuck sake, how many of the XP targeting virii that you've heard of lately have been due to holes in the video and audio driver model? This isn't about improving security for the customer, this is about locking down content through poorly implemented DRM. We could have kept our existing driver model instead of changing it YET AGAIN. How many changes in the last 20 odd years have we had? DOS drivers, Win 3.11 drivers, 95 drivers, 98 drivers, 2000/XP drivers, and now Vista drivers. What a waste of goddamn effort. Bad design is an understatement. Get it right and move on for fuck sake. We don't need a dozen incompatible driver models by the time I'm old.
  • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:14PM (#22628646)

    However no one is forcing dell to use the stickers
    Do you know that for a fact, or are you just assuming?

    The reason I ask is because it's possible that Dell's contracts with Microsoft did, in fact, obligate them to promote Vista by the stickers on computers. For instance their bulk discounts are tied to various deals, such as having "Dell recommends Windows Vista" on their website.

    Also worth noting is that many OEMs were shipping systems with "Vista Ready" stickers long before Vista was finalized. They had no way of knowing how well Vista would ultimately run on the machines, other than what Microsoft was telling them. Still, the OEMs share the blame to the extent that it was irresponsible of them to trust Microsoft and put stickers on systems without being sure that their claims were correct.
  • Re:But why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ushering05401 (1086795) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:14PM (#22628654) Journal
    Purely second-hand, but...

    My father does a lot of video work, and any time he tries to access or move a video file he has crazy wait times while Vista chews on something.

    What the hell changed between XP, which he has since gone back to using, and Vista that so radically changed the handling of video files? From his reading on various websites (none of which I can vouch for) the OS is checking for some sort of signatures in the files to figure out if he has permission to perform the selected task.

    I have no idea if this is true or not, but either way, he had to ditch Vista and return to XP in order to do things like edit the video he shoots of conferences and events.

    So the DRM issue has at least some anecdotal evidence in its favor. Either that or Vista is completely incapable of handling files over a certain size with any sort of grace.
  • Re:Security (Score:3, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:16PM (#22628700) Homepage Journal
    If you don't notice a significant flaw in the security or driver model during 5+ years of development and testing then yes, you are incompetent. At the very least your testing is incompetent.

    We're not talking about a broken link on a web site. We're talking about an OS that goes on hundreds of millions of computers. Make a few mistakes in the some of the details, but don't fsck up the model.
  • Re:But why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tomthegeek (1145233) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:27PM (#22628824) Homepage

    if it weren't supported at all because MS tried to take a stance against it, then we'd just be complaining about the lack of support.

    I'm sure that if MS dropped DRM support there would be an uprising the likes of which have not been seen since /. deleted the Scientology post.

    Are you serious?

  • Re:But why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:41PM (#22629008) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I mean Jesus Christ, can you imagine how mad I would be if playing back an simple audio file didn't eat up 15% of my CPU (up from 0.5% in XP)? I know I might lose the ability to play back HD movies that I can't play back anyway because media companies still don't trust me.
  • Re:Security (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:44PM (#22629044)

    How many changes in the last 20 odd years have we had? DOS drivers, Win 3.11 drivers, 95 drivers, 98 drivers, 2000/XP drivers, and now Vista drivers. What a waste of goddamn effort. Bad design is an understatement. Get it right and move on for fuck sake. We don't need a dozen incompatible driver models by the time I'm old.
    Like monaural, vinyl, reel-to-reel, 8 track, cassette, CD, mini-disk, DAT, to portable music devices supporting multiple format standards.
    Or tin-plate photography, stereo-scopes, silent movies, 8mm, 135mm, iMax, BetaMAX, VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray/HiDef-DVD, movies on demand, satellite TV, digital broadcast, the DVR revolution.

    My god... why didn't they just think of the DVR 200 years ago; we wouldn't be in this mess now having to worry if my HDMI cable will work with my TV!

    It's called progress... get used to it or get out of the way.
  • Re:But why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rhdaly (1072244) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:49PM (#22629098)
    The support for existing DRM-protected media is the same if not better; that does NOT force DRM on you, just allows you to use media that some video bigwig thought needs the protection - if it weren't supported at all because MS tried to take a stance against it, then we'd just be complaining about the lack of support.

    You've got it backwards. If Microsoft never supported the DRM, the RIAA and MPAA wouldn't have put it on the disks, because of the lack of support. It's not the customers that would be complaining, it's the "media partners." And those bastards? They can have some cheese with their whine.
  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:51PM (#22629120) Journal

    There just doesn't seem to be much logic to what Redmond does.
    that's the beauty of a monopoly- there doesn't need to be any logic- the users will be forced to use it anyway.
  • Re:But why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by void* (20133) on Monday March 03, 2008 @07:05PM (#22629288)
    It may have to verify all the files are patchable, but it most certainly does not have to do that before it displays the dialog box. Normally something like that would be done with a progress bar inside a dialog box.

    There is no good reason to not give the user an indication of what is going on. If the system design requires that, then the system design is faulty. Faulty system design is not a 'good reason'.

  • by UncleTogie (1004853) * on Monday March 03, 2008 @07:16PM (#22629412) Homepage Journal

    It isn't supported, at least last I looked. I chose the card because it had the best quality in the price range at the time of purchase.

    That's like sayin' ya bought a WinModem 'cause it was cheap, and it's the fault of Linux that it's not supported...

    Out of curiousity, what make/model is your TV card?

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday March 03, 2008 @07:20PM (#22629454) Journal
    Nice strawman there.

    What has been said, is that stability and security should not be compromised to provide backwards compatibility. Drivers are not usually at the high end of security risks (that's for charming things like ActiveX).

    With the fast hardware and cheap RAM we have now a days, there's no reason to start moving to a VM model, allowing for compatibility *and* security. But Microsoft and its unholy OEM alliance with manufacturers are not interested in that, but rather in forcing upgrades of both OS and hardware. Microsoft and the manufacturers don't give a shit about the customer, but only about the bottom line, and Vista is an example of that self-serving attitude finally catching up with them.
  • Re:Security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday March 03, 2008 @07:43PM (#22629670) Journal
    Progress is bumbling along from one model to another, wiping out compatibility for tons of hardware along the way, only to alter course in five or six years. That isn't progress, that's just chaos. Surely Microsoft's engineers are just as capable of picking up hardware industry rags as anyone else and getting a decent idea of how things are going to look over the next six or seven years, get a feel for the kinds of processors, components, hardware and interfaces that are going to come down the pike and develop a tenable, efficient and extensible driver model.

    This is why monopolies are so damned bad. There's nobody for them to reasonably compete against, so they have their own market ecosphere which doesn't have to make any damned sense at all save from the marketers and bean counters point of views. Everyone keeps telling me how the best and brightest end up in Redmond, and yet over and over and over again we keep seeing the same bad architectual decisions that keep biting everyone in the ass in the same way. We see the absolute lack of forward thinking, of at least trying to create a development model that can accomodate security, utility and extensibility.

    I don't think anyone expects five year old hardware to run the latest MS operating system (although, ironically, you can often do that with Linux and FreeBSD), but there have been hardware problems with stuff that was a couple of years old when Vista was released. Yes, the manufacturers deserve a lot of the blame, but Microsoft has handed the perfect excuse for engineered obsolescence. The manufacturers are only reflecting Microsoft's own disdain for doing right by the customer.

    Yes, they've got the average consumer by the balls, but the average consumer isn't the big profit center. It's all those corporate installs, with their hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of licenses for XP and Office. They're the ones that don't want to have to partake in massive upgrade or replacement programs for two year old computers, replace three year old printers, and then go through the retraining and administration unknowns that come along with this new operating system.

    I work for a smaller company, but we've put off any consideration of upgrading from XP until 2010, by which point it's possible that Windows 7 will be out. By that point, supporting old hardware won't be much of an issue, and retraining won't be, because all those poor suckers who bought their Vista machine at a big box store will hopefully have learned the basics.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@nOsPAm.hotmail.com> on Monday March 03, 2008 @10:08PM (#22630940) Journal
    This comment is -1 Overrated?? It's a direct, ontopic factual response to a wrong claim.

    No it's not. It's just more Microsoft marketing-speak. For example:

    The new video and audio drivers have nothing to do with DRM.

    Reasons include moving as much software out of kernel mode as possible thereby minimizing bug checks (in layman's terms "BSODs"), developing an architecture to make debugging audio problems in applications easier, and supporting a whole new generation of Digital Rights Management (http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/device/stream/output_protect.mspx)
    Vista is not 10%-50% slower.

    Of course, none of this bodes well for Vista, which is now more than 2x slower [blogspot.com] than the most current builds of its older sibling.
    Either Microsoft supports it, or Microsoft can kiss all high-def media good-bye.

    No, if Microsoft doesn't support it, we can ALL kiss DRM'd high-def media good-bye, and good riddance. Microsoft had been a key supporter and booster of computer DRM despite their customers' distaste for it. Don't try to pretend they are anything but complicit partners with the studios in this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2008 @11:59PM (#22631698)
    twitter [slashdot.org], please read this carefully. Following this advice will make Slashdot a better place for everyone, including yourself.

    • As a representative of the Linux community, participate in mailing list and newsgroup discussions in a professional manner. Refrain from name-calling and use of vulgar language. Consider yourself a member of a virtual corporation with Mr. Torvalds as your Chief Executive Officer. Your words will either enhance or degrade the image the reader has of the Linux community.
    • Avoid hyperbole and unsubstantiated claims at all costs. It's unprofessional and will result in unproductive discussions.
    • A thoughtful, well-reasoned response to a posting will not only provide insight for your readers, but will also increase their respect for your knowledge and abilities.
    • Always remember that if you insult or are disrespectful to someone, their negative experience may be shared with many others. If you do offend someone, please try to make amends.
    • Focus on what Linux has to offer. There is no need to bash the competition. Linux is a good, solid product that stands on its own.
    • Respect the use of other operating systems. While Linux is a wonderful platform, it does not meet everyone's needs.
    • Refer to another product by its proper name. There's nothing to be gained by attempting to ridicule a company or its products by using "creative spelling". If we expect respect for Linux, we must respect other products.
    • Give credit where credit is due. Linux is just the kernel. Without the efforts of people involved with the GNU project , MIT, Berkeley and others too numerous to mention, the Linux kernel would not be very useful to most people.
    • Don't insist that Linux is the only answer for a particular application. Just as the Linux community cherishes the freedom that Linux provides them, Linux only solutions would deprive others of their freedom.
    • There will be cases where Linux is not the answer. Be the first to recognize this and offer another solution.

    From http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/docs/HOWTO/Advocacy [ibiblio.org]

  • by Myria (562655) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:03AM (#22632476)
    This one is quite simple - it's digital signature checking. Before UAC shows that dialog box, it does a digital signature check of the installer .exe file. Well, that file is 400 megabytes. This digital signature lets it warn you if you're trying to invoke an unsigned program with high privilege.

    The reason it takes so long is that it maps the entire file linearly into memory to hash it. Such a large mapping gets demand-loaded, which for a linear scan is very slow.

    The workaround is actually quite simple. Run Command Prompt as Administrator, then run the installer from there. The signature check will be on cmd.exe instead of a 400 meg file.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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