William Congreve once famously wrote:
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
With all due respects to Billy C, I would like to submit my own addendum/revision to this good 'ole axiom:
"Hell hath no fury like a software developer scorned."
I bring this up in regards to the absolute firestorm caused by Microsoft's recent announcements on Win FS. If you're not familiar with Win FS, my non-expert description of this technology is that Win FS is a new file storage system that would store all of your data files in a relational database...instead of the current crazy file system in Windows XP. This of course would provide lots of benefits, and everyone was really excited about its potential. Originally slated as one of the design pillars of Windows Vista (then known as "Longhorn"), Microsoft announced in August 2004 that Win FS would not be part of the original Vista shipment. However they said they would release Win FS as a separate product after the release of Vista.
But just last week Quentin Clark (who runs the Program Management team for WinFS) blogged that Win FS would no longer be released as a separate product. Unfortunately, he tried to convince the readers that this was a GOOD thing because Win FS would morph into SQL Server and ADO.NET. He also litered his blog with tons "marketing speak" and "blah blah blah". To make matter worse, he said "it's what people have been asking for". As a final insult, Microsoft held sessions at the Tech-Ed conference just a weeks ago hyping up Win FS.
The software development community was not buying it.
Developers from all over the world torched Quentin's post with negative comments, and bloggers took Microsoft to task. The software developers felt scorned, and they let poor Quentin feel their wrath. Yesterday, Quentin posted a follow up and came clean with more information about Win FS.
The software development community was still angry, but at least a little more understanding this time.
Reading through the comments to yesterday's post, I got a few chuckles. Here's one funny one:
"The vision remains alive"
TRANSLATION: Unfortunately the current version of Visual Studio does not support compiling visions.
"But some of the technology, especially the end user value points, are not ready"
TRANSLATION: Of course, by "end user value points," I mean "stuff people will use."
Now I know almost nothing about Win FS, but here's my perspective on how this all went down. Working against Microsoft:
Microsoft had to know this news would not be well received, so they should have just sucked it up and made the announcement at Tech-Ed, instead of waiting a few weeks after the conference. Yes it would have been painful but it would have been the right thing to do.
However, in Microsoft's defense, I am not surprised at all that Microsoft had to alter their Win FS product plans:
Creating new and revolutionary technology like Win FS is HARD WORK. Creating new and revolutionary technology for the world's most popular operating system is RIDICULOUSLY HARD WORK. The Microsoft CRM product team has hundreds of developers on it, so I can't even imagine how many developers worked on Windows Vista and Win FS! Coordinating a software project of that size boggles my mind.
If some of your products don't work out as envisioned, then in my opinion you're not pushing the limits hard enough. So kudos to Microsoft! Keep trying new and cool stuff, and we'll try to be more understanding when some great ideas don't come to fruition.
I'd rather have Microsoft stop a product now, then ship an inferior product that is slow, buggy, insecure or doesn't meet the end user requirements...even if they publically announced it 5 years ago. Yes we were excited for Win FS, but I'm willing to give Microsoft the benefit of a doubt that this was the right decision based on where they're at today.
Stuff happens. Windows Vista started in 2001, and it's 2006 now! Think about how much has changed in technology over the past 5 years. There was no blogging, no podcasts, no Ipods, no RSS, Google just started, and so on. Even the best laid plans are subject to change due to external circumstances. Five years ago I didn't even know that Microsoft CRM existed. Now we're one of the top consulting firms in the world in Microsoft CRM!
In summary, I understand that developers are frustrated because Win FS offered so many potential benefits. However, I think I understand Microsoft's position on this product. For me, I am 100 times more excited about Office 2007 than I ever was about Win FS. So here's hoping Office 2007 lives up to my expectations, and I never scorn software developers!