- There's no corporate mandate to improve kernel performance.
- Dev teams don't want outside patches: "There's just no incentive to accept changes from outside your own team."
- Small changes, with cumulative benefits, get no notice: "Incremental improvements just annoy people and are, at best, neutral for your career."
- Microsoft is having trouble retaining talented people, and newcomers just don't understand the nuances: "[O]ur good people keep retiring or moving to other large technology companies, and there are few new people achieving the level of technical virtuosity needed to replace the people who leave."
- There's a tendency to implement new features -- which get recognition -- instead of improving existing features.
Over the weekend his comments drew a lot of fire, and the anonymous poster submitted a retraction of sorts. "I was much too harsh, and I didn't intend this as some kind of massive exposé. This is just grumbling."
Well, yes, it is grumbling -- but it also paints a picture that's all too familiar to anyone who's worked in the software business for a while. Monolithic systems are hell to maintain and improve, and much of the problem arises because the devs involved get caught up in problems precisely as the anonymous poster described. Although it must be noted that he didn't mention status reporting and performance reviews, two other gripes that seem to get louder with more mature companies and giant products.
Is there a solution? Debatable -- and the debate's been going strong for a couple of decades. One thing's for sure: smaller, lighter, less encumbered systems have an enormous advantage. Perhaps, ultimately, that's the moral of this story. The problem isn't so much that Microsoft's doing a bad job of improving kernel performance. The problem is that other alternatives, which do less and do it more efficiently, are rolling over the old guard. Even the smartest people in the world -- and Microsoft's chock-full of them -- will ultimately hit a dead end improving buggy whips.
This story, "Windows developer says kernel dev being mismanaged," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.