Randall Stross proves he should stop writing about technology

What a rubbish article, I'm very disappointed at the New York Times for allowing this to go to print. Almost as much as the BBC giving the Free Software Foundation free access to write technology articles on their website, the equivalent of letting Microsoft have their marketing department write for the BBC.

Windows Could Use a Rush of Fresh Air

Ohhh that's new-age sounding, it's gotta be good.

Beginning as a thin veneer for older software code

Yup Windows began as a GUI for DOS.

it has become an obese monolith built on an ancient frame

Wrong, there's nothing of the "ancient frame" remaining in Windows today. It's completely different. More details below.

Adding features, plugging security holes, fixing bugs, fixing the fixes that never worked properly, all while maintaining compatibility with older software and hardware

Oh yeah all very good. Let's stop doing that, we won't add any new features. Then of course you'll be complaining because the new version of Windows doesn't have anything new. Security holes, OK we won't do anything about those, patching bugs, meh we'll just sell you the new version instead like Apple do. Compatibility, ah nobody needs that, we'll just stop worrying about that so you can buy all your hardware and software again every time a new version is released.

What planet is this guy on? Anything as an excuse to bash Windows.

Vista is the equivalent, at a minimum, of Windows version 12 — preceded by 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, NT, 95, NT 4.0, 98, 2000, ME, XP. After six years of development, the longest interval between versions in the previous 22-year history of Windows, and long enough to permit Apple to bring out three new versions of Mac OS X, Vista was introduced to consumers in January 2007.

Oh here we go Apple must be nimble and quick because Microsoft didn't release anything new for six years. Wrong.

Microsoft shipped two server releases, four versions of Media Center, and at least two Tablet PC Editions, without counting Windows Mobile and Embedded that's eight versions of Windows right there. I should also mention Windows XP SP2, which could of been sold quite easily as a new version of Windows - Microsoft put pretty much the entire Windows team on SP2 for a year, pushing Windows Vista back so they could give you a free upgrade. I suppose you'd rather of seen a Windows XP R2 or SE in the shops for $200 though right?

The internal code name for the next version is “Windows 7.” The “7” refers to nothing in particular

Wrong, the seven refers to the next major version of the NT kernel, which in Windows Vista and Server 2008 is version six.

Yes version six (with four major releases), so your twelve versions of Windows is junk too. Why? Because there was a version of Windows started up from the ground up. It's called NT, which is why your ancient frame comment in your first sentence is utter nonsense. In fact Microsoft did it so well that apparently Randall doesn't even know they pulled it off.

the company should take heart from Apple’s willingness to brave the wrath of its users when, in 2001, it introduced Mac OS X. It was based on a modern microkernel design

Completely different. Apple took an existing operating system, FreeBSD (based on Unix) and built on it. So on the one hand you're proposing they "borrow" somebody else's operating system, and on the other hand you're telling them to start over fresh. Which is it Randall?

Asking Microsoft to chuck compatibility in the bin and start over new would be the biggest disaster ever in the technology industry, and no doubt the most expensive undertaking in history. Do you have any idea of the scale of forcing a complete overhaul for over a billion computers? Apple only had to worry about the backlash of a few million of their strongest supporters. Microsoft have to worry about a billion computer users, the largest companies in the world and everyone else. Talk about letting Microsoft give ammunition to people like you, who in next week's article would be attacking Microsoft for hurting backwards compatibility.

Windows Vista represents the biggest leap forward in changing the system since Windows 95, huge aspects of the operating system were thrown away and written from the ground up, NT security measures were enforced. That hurt compatibility, and Microsoft spent a considerable amount of time working on using visualisation to keep the impact to a minimum (something I believe they were extremely successful with). Something the scale of change we saw in Windows Vista was really as far as Microsoft could push it. Don't get me wrong, I'm one of the people who say we need to move forward, and that ensuring compatibility does hold things back. But what you're saying a completely re-write of the entire system from scratch, with modern ways of building a system is so far out of the real world. The press and blogosphere have a field day with Windows Vista already because it was so much of a change (completely unwarranted in my opinion Windows Vista is the best OS to date), what you're suggesting would amplify it a hundred times over. But I've got a feeling that's what Randall wants to see, or at least the people he got all these crazy ideas from.

They believe that problems like security vulnerabilities and system crashes can be fixed only by abandoning system design orthodoxy, formed in the 1960s and ’70s, that was built into Windows.

Now he's talking utter crap. Mac OS X you keep going on about is based on Unix from the 1960s!

Windows NT comes from the early 1990s, it was based on VMS which was created to address all the problems with Unix. You've got things completely upside down Randall. And even if they were right, it's not like you can use old or modern in this space to assume an operating system is good or not.

A MONOLITHIC operating system like Windows perpetuates an obsolete design.

What? Oh you're using a technical term to the general public so they think monolithic means bloated and big, and even that is 10 years out of date. This strikes me like creationists calling evolution a "theory", knowing full well how the general public understand the word, and how scientists use it are completely different. Windows NT uses a hybrid-kernel, not a monolithic kernel. He seems to be brushing over the fact that internally it is extremely modular, and not at all similar to something like Windows 95 or Linux, which use a monolithic kernel.

We don’t need to load up our machines with bloated layers we won’t use. We need what Mr. Silver and Mr. MacDonald speak of as a “just enough” operating system. Additional functionality, appropriate to a given task, can be loaded as needed.

What you mean like Windows? When you need to load something, you load it up and when you're finished you close it so it's not using any resources. Jeez.

I can't even be bothered talking about the rest, this guy just has absolutely no clue, everything he says is wrong, it started off completely wrong, and he just went further and further towards cluelessness. He's got so many concepts just completely backwards, and he's propagating so many myths straight out of the Apple/Linux crowd like Microsoft didn't do anything for six years between Windows XP and Windows Vista.

You're wrong Randall, totally wrong.

Let Viacom know what you're watching

As Google have been forced to hand over the viewing habits of every user who has ever watched any video on YouTube. I think it's time to show Viacom that we don't all use YouTube to share "pirate" their crappy (excluding Star Trek which they canned) shows.

So I've got a few suggestions, I hope Viacom love looking through my history, they'll see that I enjoy some good World of WarCraft videos now and again.

Let's start off with World of Offline Gaming, Christmas Time in Dun Morough, Leroy Jenkins, WoW player scolded by parents over Ventrilo, FUNNY Real-Person world of warcraft and of course finally the Rise of the Dragonstar guild's official Alterac Valley battlesong.

If you've got any other suggestions you can use to flood people's viewing histories, feel free to make them below.

Hyper-V released

Windows Server 2008 Hyper-VMicrosoft have released their new visualisation package, dubbed Hyper-V. This effectively replaces Virtual Server 2005. Originally due to ship with Windows Server 2008 earlier this year, it needed a few more months in the oven, but it was available for download in beta and later as a release candidate form.

The IT industry often gets flak from environmental groups, when you've got companies like Google adding I'd assume thousands or even tens of thousands of servers to their data centres every month, maybe they've got a point, even more so when you see statistics like the average CPU utilisation in a data centre is something like 10%, ouch that's a lot of waste.

Putting 10 virtual servers on a single physical machine, and scrapping the other 9 physical boxes would sure save a lot of energy, and time. Now if a server fails all you have to do is copy the virtual machines off the hard disks, and boot them up on another machine. There's no worrying about getting identical hardware to boot the system on, or trying to find images suitable for different types of hardware, all virtual machines run on the same virtualised hardware and so can boot anywhere.

I run two servers at home, Windows Home Server, which acts as a file server and backups all the machines on the network and is actually running on the metal, and virtualised on it Windows Small Business Server 2003, which handles Exchange for Catherine and myself. If it wasn't for that I'd have to have another physical machine running dedicated to Small Business Server, and if the hardware fails, I can just copy the virtual machine to my desktop computer and run it on here until I can get a replacement server.

Heck even my server I've got hosting these websites on is virtualised; it just makes so much sense.

Virtualisation has long been dismissed by some as being too slow, sure Virtual Server 2005, which I use at home a virtual machine will probably get something like 75% the performance of the machine it is hosted on. Not great, but hardly a deal breaker especially considering the amount of free CPU cycles and disk I/O so many servers have.

Hyper-V improves on this dramatically, SQL performance is something like 97% that of a physical machine, and disk I/O something like 99%. Essential this release ends the performance argument? 1% slower? Pfft who cares.

Microsoft have had 25% of the Microsoft.com servers running virtualised for weeks now, and that's a website that gets something like 15,000 requests per second, they aim to have 50% of the server virtualised within a couple of weeks and be completely virtualised in a month or two. MSDN has been fully virtualised since March time now on Hyper-V.

There's no doubt in my mind that most technology companies will have their servers virtualised in five years, and probably most servers in the world within ten.

Virtualisation also has its place on desktops; Windows Vista already virtualises the file system and registry for some applications to help with backwards compatibility. In the future, I definitely see virtualisation providing most if not all backwards compatibility, which will allow the OS to move forward at a faster rate as the developers wouldn't have to waste time worrying about backwards compatibility. Which also means it can be an optional component, so people like myself who have no desire to run an application from the 17th century won't need the extra stuff on the machine in order to run it. Already we've got things like Virtual PC which saves developers having multiple physical boxes, or dual booting different operating systems and browsers - I'd go insane doing web development having to boot into another partition on this machine or get another PC and dedicate it to running Windows XP and IE6.

Even with a conservative estimate, virtualisation could half the number of servers in the world, having a quarter the number of physical server probably isn't that far off the mark either. No doubt in my mind that in 20 years virtualisation will be seen as something as import as the Graphical User Interface, or even the microprocessor.

Stop performing to the Daily Hate's (not a typo) readership

Enough playing to the Daily Mail's readership and their imaginary "middle England". If I hear another politician saying "hard working families who play by the rules" I am going to get annoyed.

Most of my work colleagues and myself aren't married nor have children. I guess that means we're all stuffed. Unemployed? Heck they don't work hard you must be stuffed. Pensioners, they may of worked hard all your life, but now you don't, I guess they're stuffed too.

What's wrong with saying working class? Remember them Gordon? The people who have to work for a living.

I got the NEC election ballot through my door today, with it a message from Gordon. Susan rightly dissects the language used in it.

Fairness means, yes, we will address poverty. But fairness also means we are always on the side of aspiration and ambition. (Read: the rich).

Over the coming months we are rolling out our Australian-style points-based system for immigration to make sure that only those who can contribute to Britain can come in. (In other words, if you are an asylum-seeker, poor, defenseless, financially vulnerable, forget it).

When is the Parliamentary Labour Party going to act?

Good question Grimmer, just when are the Parliamentary Labour Party going to act to stop the relentless march of the Labour Party to electoral oblivion in 2010?

So where did Gordon get it wrong?
1. Ensuring there was no contest for the leadership
2. Ensuring there was no-one in the cabinet from the left-of-centre
3. Inviting Tories like Digby Jones and Quentin Davies into his "big tent" and excluding the left-of-centre
4. Not facilitiating withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan
5. Abolishing voting at Labour Party Conference
6. Dog-whistle politics on immigration and border controls
7. Macho posturing on 42 days, nuclear power, civil liberties
8. Further triangulation to the right and more Blairism
9. Public sector pay
10. 10p tax fiasco

Right on Susan.

Clearing up some Internet Explorer 8 nonsense

When Microsoft announced that it would ship Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 in August, the IE team also reminded web developers to ensure their stuff works by then, and supplied a couple of quick-fixes that can be used to tell IE8 to render a page in IE7 mode, which can be specified per-page, or even server-wide.

This was done so that web developers could maintain their normal development cycle, so they wouldn't have to re-engineer their websites based upon IE8's release, they'd just need to add one line of code on any pages that might be effected, or change a setting on the server. Five minutes work, tops.

Simple right, we get a decent browser with good standards support, and an easy way to maintain compatibility, everyones happy right?

Wrong. A quick look over the comments on Mary Jo's article on ZDNet shows something quite different.

Ballmer, fire the IE team... Super-standard mode may be silliest thing IE team's come up with and will make IE lose more market share. IE7 has broken many websites and irritated many site designers. And now IE8 seems to do more. People love simplicity and do not care standard compliance. They hate doing unneccessary work to tweak their well-working website.

Super-standards mode, other than the super name is just standards mode, IE8 rendering a page as close to the standards as possible. Like every other browser, Firefox, Opera etc.

I don't think IE7 "broke" many websites, maybe your websites perhaps. IE7 was a good step forward and fixed many of the layout and positioning problems that plagued IE6. If you fed IE7 the standard-CSS instead of doing what I suspect you did, feeding it on the non-standard-CSS that was hacked for IE6 there wouldn't of been many issues at all. IE7's standards support was good enough so everybody could switch over to using CSS, although of course it was by no means perfect or complete.

Web developers are fed up with having to do all kinds of hacks for older versions of IE. IE8 because it will support the standards as well as any other browser out there will save so much time, we won't have to waste time writing all these different versions of the site for different browsers.

7 versions of windows now 3 different settings in IE, why make life so hard for users?

This doesn't effect end-users. Only developers need to worry about how IE will render a page.

Quirks mode, how Internet Explorer 6 and below browsers rendered pages.
"Standards" mode which I call IE7 mode, which renders things like IE7.
Super-standards mode which renders it like any other browser.

Originally the Doc Type was used to determine how to render a web page, if a browser saw no Doc Type, it would render in quirks mode, if it saw a Doc Type it would render it according to whatever specification was in the Doc Type.

However Doc Type has been poorly used, and often websites are written against completely different specifications than what is in the Doc Type. So IE7 mode tag has been introduced, as a way of telling future browsers to render like IE7, like I said before its a quick-fix measure that should be phased out by developers on their next version of their website.

It isn't complicated, and should be common sense for any web developer. End-users don't need to know what's going on under the covers.

Again MS shoot themselves in the FOOT. Why do MS keep changing the standards (there thanks to MS NO standards NOW, just MS shifting the goalposts.
When will they learn the more they annoy cleints the more they loose to other platforme as on writer said...

Microsoft don't keep changing the standards, they're not Microsoft's to change. Microsoft are giving Internet Explorer 8 decent support for CSS 2.0 and 2.1, fixing the problems previous versions of IE had with them.

Everyone's testing against Firefox right? Just feed IE8 the same code you would to Firefox.

This is crazy! I don't know what the IE team is smoking. This is going to blow up in MS' face like a thermonuclear bomb. You don't screw around with backward compatibility and not expect blowback from users / developers. MS should go back to its original position, and require developers to place a tag on their web site, to get super standards mode in IE8. Don't bow to the pressure of an overly vocal minority, and cause a gigantic upheaval on the web. Besides, it's not like these guys are going to like you anyway.

Actually web developers who keep tags on things and keep track of what's going on with browser development went thermonuclear on the IE team last year when they said they were going to make "super"-standards-mode opt-in.

Which in my opinion is holding the future to ransom over a couple of minutes of pain now. If you're using a Doc Type in your page, it is opt-out. Like it should be, IE8 will assume it will be getting standards-complaint code.

Gigantic upheaval on the web? Does Firefox or Opera cause gigantic upheaval on the web? No. People are already writing against the standards, they just need to give IE8 the same code as Firefox and Opera instead of all the hacks they're giving to IE6 and the like.

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