Ballmer: Microsoft lost "thousands of man hours of innovation" on Vista

Ballmer: Microsoft lost "thousands of man hours of innovation" on Vista

Summary: In a speech to fellow CEOs at Microsoft's 14th annual CEO Summit, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer said something that gives us an insight into what went wrong with Vista.

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In a speech to fellow CEOs at Microsoft's 14th annual CEO Summit, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer said something that gives us an insight into what went wrong with Vista.

Taking about the operating system, he said:

"We tried too big a task and in the process wound up losing thousands of man hours of innovation."

The problem with Microsoft (specifically in the pre Windows 7 days) is that the company had a huge track record of vaporware announcements. During the development of Longhorn (the project that led to Vista), there was an almost daily flow of announcements and new features from Microsoft. Longhorn was going to be everything to everybody.

Then there were external pressures. Not only was Longhorn having to keep up with what Microsoft wanted from it, it also had to keep up with the tech industry and the changes and developments there. Feature creep built on top of feature creep, and eventually the project collapsed under its own weight and Microsoft threw out the existing code, took the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 codebase and added to this the features that would transform it into Vista.

Overall, Vista cost Microsoft around $6 billion to develop.

Microsoft knew what Vista should have been - it should have been Longhorn. The sobering thing to take away from this is that Microsoft, with all that cash and brain-power and experience, bit off more than it could chew and ended up having to retreat and regroup.

And what about Windows 7? Well, it's a leg up from Vista. It could be argued that Windows 7 is what Vista should have been, but that's beside the point. Users seem happy with Windows 7, and whether that's down to it being a better operating system, or that people are just glad to have cash to spend on shiny new PCs and software, it doesn't matter one bit to Microsoft!

Topics: Operating Systems, Emerging Tech, Microsoft, Software, Windows

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40 comments
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  • Whatever it was to them, I know what it was to me

    A better platform to me than XP was. More stable and secure.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

      @NStalnecker

      If your a regular user of windows 7 then you know that not to be a true statement,heck the secure statement is a total Linux zelot giveaway/or mac.
      Stan57
      • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

        @Stan57 <br><br>What? Vista was 10000 more stable and secure than XP was. Never had problems with it, and I still continue to run it. :)
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • But ...

        @Stan57 seven is just a polished vista SP1
        s_souche
      • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

        @Stan57: I wonder if you, yourself, are a "regular" Windows Seven user. Cuz NStalnecker seems to make a pretty good point about Vista. Sure, the original release of Vista had some serious problems as I've experienced them myself but many of those problems seemed to have been fixed by installing Vista's two service packs.

        @s_souche: Windows 7 is basically a "refurbished" Vista SP2, not Vista SP1.
        ep-man
    • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

      @NStalnecker As it was to a lot of people except the Microsoft haters. Good thing the Mojave project proved them wrong.
      Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

        @Loverock Davidson

        Vista had nothing wrong with it. However the name was forever tarnished in the consumer's eyes.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

        @NStalnecker
        [i]Vista had nothing wrong with it. However the name was forever tarnished in the consumer's eyes. [/i]

        Then you have to ask yourself one thing: [i]Why?[/i] <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/bulb.gif">
        klumper
    • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

      @NStalnecker

      I apologize,i did not read what you said good enough,and my comment was uncalled for and incorrect,
      Sorry
      Stan
      Stan57
      • It's all good

        @Stan57

        :)
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Stable?

      @NStalnecker

      Yes, it was.
      Usable? NOPE.
      Interface sucked, and XP with aftermarket security was better than stock Vista.
      Unfortunately 7 is not much better in many ways.
      Wonderful to look at, horrible to work with.
      Can't slipstream the crap out of it.
      Gotta manually remove it after install.
      Hmmm, just like OSX. 2 crappy peas in the same pod.

      Linux Mint x64 with XP x86 in a VM just WORKS.
      No crashes, runs everything, no malware issues, installs and updates with a couple of clicks.

      My PC came with 7, which is still on there, but I so rarely use it I'm seriously thinking of recovering the 30GB's allocated to it's partition.
      The_Curmudgeon
  • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

    That's not losing man hours, that's using resources to find new ideas and ways to be creative and learn from them. Look at what those thousands of man hours brought us, Microsoft Vista which brought us Microsoft Windows 7. One could hardly say that man hours were lost, its more like they were put to research other products.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Nice spin

      And in a roundabout way, even true. That is, with a pinch of salt ... and a few aspirin. ;)
      klumper
    • What?

      "One could hardly say that man hours were lost, its more like they were put to research other products."

      Millions of lines of code were thrown out!

      This is getting amazing: MS admits problems with Vista, as does Ballmer, even ZDNet's Ed and still the MSCEs of ZDNet talkbacks refuse to acknowledge any problems with it.

      It's beyond denial, but medically delusional.

      Kudos to those that are now shown they were right all along:-)
      Richard Flude
      • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

        @Richard Flude

        Can you honestly say millions of lines intended for Linux or OS X have never been thrown out?

        Mistakes are always made, the question is how you learn from them and make your product better. And while Windows 7 is far from perfect, it is clearly the best OS ever produced from MS, and holds up very well to the competition when you compare it to the points that the competition likes to compare themselves to Windows.

        And IMHO, the thing MS learned the most is that third parties need to be on board with the development process. That is what was missing from Vista. Perhaps the reason some do not consider Vista a failure is because when you ignore the third party problems, it really wasn't half bad. That's probably why so many people defend it and tend to blame outside sources, but in reality the OS vendor has to be proactive with third party vendors if it wants its OS to be well received. After all, people do not buy a computer to run an OS, they buy a computer to run applications.
        Michael Kelly
  • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

    Windows 7 was MY idea! After the disaster that Vista was they'd have lost their pants if they didn't listen to me!

    :)
    bahamude
    • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

      @bahamude

      YOU'RE SUCH A BIG FAT LIAR! Windows 7 is NOT your idea, so stop taking credit for someone else's idea.
      ep-man
  • Windows 7

    Love it
    rjohn05
  • Vista was garbage

    until they finally dished out there final service packs, but by then it was too late and there was way too much negative publicity and bad blood spilled to go out and buy Vista.

    When Vista came out and for awhile after, it gave me, and I am not computer illiterate - actually quite the opposite, problems as a whole and was not pleased with the slowness and bugginess of it. After the service packs came out though, it seemed to turn out to be an ok OS, still bloated but decent enough if you really do not have the money to buy Windows 7.
    brad1000
  • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft lost

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