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Author Topic: Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?  (Read 13212 times)

Offline latebind

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« on: 26/03/2009 18:59:58 »
Hey guys, tell me if you agree??

I am a software engineer, and I have really respected Microsoft products until the last year or so. I feel their quality of client applications is getting pretty low, let me give some examples.

1) Windows Media Player 11

Ok, so this new version of WMP scans your entire computer for music without giving you the option to tell it where you want it to look. This is a big problem, considering I have an internal 500G HD and 3 external 750G HD's. (I do a lot of development :). So my computer crashed as a result of WMP using too much memory.

Second problem with WMP 11 is that while it is scanning your computer, it shows you a a popup saying that you can close results popup to free up resources and it will continue to search in the background(I assume it meant a low pri thread of sorts). Well I tried this and it stopped searching immediately.

So I uninstalled it because it is pretty much unusable

2) Windows Vista

Lots of quality issues. My biggest problem is the fact that copying files and unzipping files is sometimes extremely slow, and Vista is just way too slow for me as well.

3) Hotmail

Wow, this is really bad. When tabbed browsers came out it was very cool for users of hotmail and other webmail products since they could open each email in a new tab. As a user of hotmail I was really enjoying the new luxury until they decided to use a javascript mechanism to open new emails (which pretty much means you cannot open new emails in a new tab) and hence they took a huge step backwards. This was really a monumental error considering that a few months earlier they made IE7 with tabbed browsing.... (This to me is unforgivable)

4) IE 8

Try IE8. see if you like it, I thought it was a load of rubbish, it could not handle a lot of pages and sometimes crashed upon opening of SSL sites, and every now and then it would just close for no reason and pop up one of those annoying messages about sending this error to microsoft.



« Last Edit: 26/03/2009 19:05:08 by latebind »


 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #1 on: 26/03/2009 22:30:41 »
I get endless problems with Windows Live Messenger. It keeps closing for no apparent reason then automatically signing me back in. I often leave my PC running while I go off to do something else. Messenger closes, then logs me back in, so my friends get a message saying I've just logged in. They say hello & get no reply because I'm not actually at my PC. How to lose friends!

Please don't mention IE in any shape or form. I build a lot of websites and I use AJAX on many of them. IE is non-compliant in so many areas of HTML & Javascript (JScript, Msxml2.XMLHTTP, Microsoft.XMLHTTP grrrrrr) that much of my effort is spent writing code just to handle IE.

Vista? Slow, cumbersome, unweildy. Give me XP or Ubuntu any day.

Media Player is a pain in the tweeter (I've got 2 external 1Tb disks, 1 x 750Gb & 1 x 500Gb). I use Winamp.

In fact I use as little MS software as possible. MS Office - gone. OpenOffice - in. Hotmail - no. Gmail - yes. Etc, etc, etc.
« Last Edit: 26/03/2009 22:33:52 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline LeeE

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #2 on: 27/03/2009 01:14:45 »
You've started to feel that the quality of Microsoft software is falling?  Lol - the quality of their software has never been one of their strong points.  To paraphrase one of their advertising slogans; 'It works, just'.

This is really the major issue I have with Microsoft software; while I like the idea of 'free' software (that's free as in liberated, and not as in beer) and the peer review that it's subject to, I don't have problems with proprietary/closed-source software.  If the software does what you want, it's worth what you're prepared to pay to achieve what you want to achieve.  However, not only is a lot of Microsoft software flawed in it's implementation but more seriously, it's also flawed in design, and in such a way that leaves it very fragile, and which is why 'It works, just' is not just funny but true.

Actually, this is not totally fair; there have been some versions of some Microsoft software that have been well designed and implemented, such as NT Version 3.51, and a few of the earlier/mid MSSQL Server versions, but they eventually managed to compromise them in later versions, where they sacrificed quality for new features.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #3 on: 27/03/2009 11:33:49 »
And whoever dreamed up Direct-X needs shooting! Why the hell would anyone deiberately come up with something that by its very nature compromises your PC's security?
 

lyner

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #4 on: 27/03/2009 15:16:22 »
It started with DOS and carried on from there.
But, without them, would so many people be experiencing the joys of computing?
(I'm not a fan, btw, having only bought Apple since 1991)
 

Offline erickejah

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« Reply #5 on: 27/03/2009 16:39:33 »
It started with DOS and carried on from there.
But, without them, would so many people be experiencing the joys of computing?
(I'm not a fan, btw, having only bought Apple since 1991)
:o i was 2 years old...  :-\
 

lyner

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #6 on: 27/03/2009 18:05:07 »
You young whippersnapper. I'd been working for ages before they brought out these new fangled PC things!
 

Offline latebind

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« Reply #7 on: 27/03/2009 22:34:54 »
It started with DOS and carried on from there.
But, without them, would so many people be experiencing the joys of computing?
(I'm not a fan, btw, having only bought Apple since 1991)

Back in the days of DOS Microsoft was a tight and very coherent business, and Bill Gates was an amazing leader, and yes Microsoft played an important role in bringing personal computing to the masses. Apple and others certainly had their market, but Microsoft was legendary in their ability to transend the technical paradigm and focus on user centric design and quality, this is what put them leaps and bounds ahead of the competition at that time.

So what has happened? Why has their client software started to go awry? My guess is that microsoft is just getting too big, they are trying to extend their reach into many different technologies and I think somewhere that a critical internal balance between technology and users has been lost, and hence their quality starts so suffer.

This is an extremely bad time for this to happen as well, on the client side there are many open source and free operating systems that today work just as well as Microsoft, these include alot of Linux flavours and even an operating system written in my home language, Java, which I have used and it rocks!

One thing that is saving microsoft at the moment is the custom formats for office documents, people are so used to just attaching a word doc to an email and sending it off! But this will change in the future as the world has been slowly moving towards a universal document format for everything, and when this happens I'll bet that the tide violently turns ugly for Microsoft if they have not cleaned their act up by then...




« Last Edit: 27/03/2009 22:39:31 by latebind »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #8 on: 28/03/2009 01:11:50 »
Quote
One thing that is saving microsoft at the moment is the custom formats for office documents, people are so used to just attaching a word doc to an email and sending it off!

What is saving MS at the moment is that it's almost impossible to buy a PC that doesn't have XP or Vista! Plus the fact that people like to stick with what they know. There is a whole generation who know no other OS but Windows Whatever. And, of course, general ignorance of what else is on offer. I've spoken to people who don't even realise that there are browsers other than IE available. They just get their PC home, switch it on & it does what they want. Where is the incentive to look for alternatives?
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #9 on: 28/03/2009 01:15:40 »
Well said mate.
We should always be out there looking for self improvement, and that includes our computers. :)
 

Offline Raghavendra

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #10 on: 28/03/2009 08:22:39 »
 Well i to think that microsoft is falling ... due to Fall in economy and also in there budget..
       Engineering's are facing more problem , due to recession.

   Other companies are awaking, and there is larger production.
And there application not well presented this time?

 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #11 on: 28/03/2009 10:24:20 »
Microsoft (Or, rather, the collaboration between MS and IBM) was probably the best thing that ever happened to computers. It brought computing to the unwashed hoi poloi.

Prior to that, computers were the domain of businesses, home enthusiasts or people who wanted to play games that were only slightly more sophisticated than Pong. How many people back then could even install an OS? There were no install wizards, it all had to be done from a script or on the command line. Some computers had very rudimentary word processing capabilities, but you couldn't put your document on a disk and read it on a different computer because it was likely to have a different OS and different word processor that was incompatible (that's if your computer even had a disk drive!).

MS changed all that and made computers accessible to everyone. MS and the IBM XT were the real starting point; a hard drive and standardised OS & programs. People could actually start to share information other than on sheets of paper, the data from which would have to be entered manually on other computers.

MSDOS was very stable but started to get large & unwieldy quite early on. DR-DOS, for instance, would run most MS software but was only a fraction of the size. I also remember being able to phone MS if I had a problem (which I did a few times with assembler programs that used MS system calls) and they were very helpful. Oh how times change!

Windows For Workgroups was a superb OS. There were very few bugs; mainly because MS kept things fairly simple. Unfortunately subsequent Windows releases got more & more sophisticated, more & more complicated, and bugs started to creep in. MS were trying to build functionality on top of an underlying OS (they ran on top of MSDOS) that simply didn't have the capability for it. By the time XP was released, still using much of the code from previous releases of Windows, there was more code in the patches than in the original OS.

MS also vastly underestimated security considerations and plugging the holes required even more patches.

There were flaws in the original design specs for Windows. As an analyst/programmer of many years experience I can assure you that if your basic design is flawed, fixing problems can be a nightmare. The design has to be nailed down right from the start or you will get problems. Adding patches to a flawed design in order to get it to work properly is akin to using BluTack to stop a rusty old boiler from leaking; eventually there will be more BluTack than metal. What you need is a new boiler.

So MS came up with Vista. Yet still they didn't do their homework, still they underestimated the cunning and resourcefulness of malware writers. And I think that is indicative of a general malaise that has crept through MS. At 1 time MS used to employ the cream of the computer world's analysts and programmers. Very few other companies could match their expertise (Netscape was 1 that certainly could). Their analysts and designers were pretty good at knowing what the public wanted and although they were working with a flawed product, MS programmers still turned out good software. That is no longer the case. They think they know best when it is plain that they don't.

latebind cited WMP11 as a case in point, and I totally agree with him/her. To a designer sitting in his office it may seem like a good idea to automatically scan the entire system looking for media; just sit back and let the PC get on with it. But many people don't want that. I, too, want to tell my media player where to look. If I want it to scan the entire system then I want to tell it to do so. It should be my choice. OK it adds a level of user intervention, but the vast majority of users are quite capable of doing it. MS thinks everyone wants to do things their way. Well, sorry pal, not this rodent.

I've got 4 external drives with a total of more than 3Tb capacity. Only 1 of those drives has media files on it. The others have documentation, software/scripting tools & databases etc. connected with the website & development work I do. What is on those other drives is of no concern to MS or any of its products. Some of the websites have video on them that I would never want to import to a media player. That would just make media library maintenance more complicated. I need to know that they work from the webpages and that's it. (Incidentally, most of my website work is done on Linux PCs but there are some tools available for Windows that are better so I want to be able to access my work from both OSs)

En fin, it is the arrogance displayed by MS that is the root of many of Windows problems, and those of other MS products. MS has become a kind of nanny state with "experts" dictating how we should do things. They even try to dictate that we should encounter certain problems and no others. Like all nanny states, they don't live in the real world.

P.S. I don't use WMP at all. I use Winamp for music and KM-Player for videos. Both are much more fault-tolerant than WMP. If they encounter a problem with a media file they put up a nice helpful message and stop. They don't just make the whole PC freeze solid.
« Last Edit: 28/03/2009 10:26:59 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #12 on: 28/03/2009 10:24:52 »
Gawd, don't I waffle on!  [:I]
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #13 on: 28/03/2009 10:37:54 »
Yes.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #14 on: 28/03/2009 10:53:52 »
Sorry, folks, but I'm going to waffle a bit more as I've just thought of something else.

When I was a software development manager I insisted that not only should our code do what it was supposed to, but also that it did it the right way. Not only would the programs be rigourously tested but the code would be examined by a team leader or myself to ensure it was written in a way that would be easy to maintain and fix should unforeseen problems arise - and it had to be fully commented (something that programmers are notoriously lax about). And my motto was KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). No fancy programming techniques that no-one else could fathom out. We had an MSc Computer Science chap working for us whose code was very tight and clever, but he was the only 1 who knew exactly what it did. I soon got him out of that.

I also wanted the code to be easily modifiable so that if a customer wanted it to do something a bit different it wouldn't involve a major re-write. Functions would be written once & once only then used throughout the entire system. Each function would perform just 1 specific task. Composite functions were a big no-no. All I/O and database calls were kept out of the main logic so that if we ever swapped to a different database we only had to code new functions and plug them in; the main logic of the programs didn't need to be touched.

I don't know if that's how MS do their development, but I suspect maybe not. If they did then their updates & patches would not be anywhere near as big or frequent.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #15 on: 28/03/2009 10:54:09 »
Yes.

harumph! You forgot to add "But it was very interesting"  :P
 

Offline LeeE

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« Reply #16 on: 28/03/2009 22:36:17 »
Sorry, folks, but I'm going to waffle a bit more as I've just thought of something else.

When I was a software development manager I insisted that not only should our code do what it was supposed to, but also that it did it the right way. Not only would the programs be rigourously tested but the code would be examined by a team leader or myself to ensure it was written in a way that would be easy to maintain and fix should unforeseen problems arise - and it had to be fully commented (something that programmers are notoriously lax about). And my motto was KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). No fancy programming techniques that no-one else could fathom out. We had an MSc Computer Science chap working for us whose code was very tight and clever, but he was the only 1 who knew exactly what it did. I soon got him out of that.

Yeah, incredibly clever source code could be impossible to maintain or amend.  Plus, in the end, it's just source code, and the compiler will optimise it anyway.

Quote
I also wanted the code to be easily modifiable so that if a customer wanted it to do something a bit different it wouldn't involve a major re-write. Functions would be written once & once only then used throughout the entire system. Each function would perform just 1 specific task. Composite functions were a big no-no. All I/O and database calls were kept out of the main logic so that if we ever swapped to a different database we only had to code new functions and plug them in; the main logic of the programs didn't need to be touched.

I don't know if that's how MS do their development, but I suspect maybe not. If they did then their updates & patches would not be anywhere near as big or frequent.

This come back to just how modular Microsoft's software really is.  Although you can write the source code in a modular manner, in many cases it still gets compiled in to a single monolithic program.  Using run-time libraries helps with this, of course, and drivers are usually implemented as modules (although in Linux you can usually compile them in to the kernel, should you, for some reason want to), but both with Windows and Linux, you end up with a monolithic kernel.

I really like micro-kernel systems, where the kernel is really tiny and basic, end where nearly everything else, including stuff that would normally be classes as system services, runs in user space using message-passing to communicate.  The old AmigaDOS and QNX are good examples of micro-kernel based message-passing systems.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #17 on: 28/03/2009 23:15:26 »
Quote
I really like micro-kernel systems, where the kernel is really tiny and basic, end where nearly everything else, including stuff that would normally be classes as system services, runs in user space using message-passing to communicate.  The old AmigaDOS and QNX are good examples of micro-kernel based message-passing systems.

That's the way I like it too. Keep different groups of functionality in separate modules and have the kernel as a simple control function that calls the appropriate routines as & when they are required. It may be a tad slower but with the speed of modern PCs you probably wouldn't notice it that much.

That's the way I write my programs - especially php scripts. The main program consists largely of a series of calls to class methods that are in separate files according to which part of the system they relate to. In the system I'm currently writing to keep track of all my contacts, meetings, etc I've got a class for contacts, a class for companies/organisations, another for categories, 1 for all the forms, etc. If I want to change something I only have to alter it in 1 place. It takes more planning at the start, but it's well worth it in the long run.

for instance:

Code: [Select]
if (isset($_GET['contact_select_button']))
{
switch ($_GET['contact_select'])
{
case -1:
$forms->display_add_contact_form($company, $db_calls);
break;
default:
$_SESSION['current_contact']=$_GET['contact_select'];
$forms->display_contact_details($_GET['contact_select'], $db_calls);
}
}

if (isset($_GET['company_select_button']))
{
switch ($_GET['company_select'])
{
case -1:
$forms->display_add_company_form();
break;
default:
$_SESSION['current_company']=$_GET['company_select'];
$forms->display_company_details($_GET['company_select']);
}
}

if (isset($_GET['category_select_button']))
{
switch ($_GET['category_select'])
{
case -1:
$category->display_add_category_form();
break;
default:
$_SESSION['current_category']=$_GET['category_select'];
$category->display_category_details($_GET['category_select']);
}
}

if (isset($_GET['company_add_button']))
{
$company->add_company();
}

if (isset($_GET['contact_add_button']))
{
$contact->add_contact($db_calls);
}

if (isset($_GET['category_add_button']))
{
// $category->add_category();
}

I think just about anyone can understand what's going on there. There are no forms, tables or database calls to confuse the issue so I can concentrate on getting the logic right.
« Last Edit: 28/03/2009 23:24:51 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline latebind

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #18 on: 28/03/2009 23:30:56 »
Nice comments DoctorBeaver.

I read it all!









 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #19 on: 28/03/2009 23:37:37 »

I read it all!


You must be a masochist or you need to get out more!
 

Offline nubemet

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #20 on: 29/03/2009 00:34:26 »
Microsoft's quality is not going down for the simple reason they didn't have any to begin with!
 ;D
 

lyner

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Is Microsoft's Quality falling apart?
« Reply #21 on: 29/03/2009 13:21:57 »
Microsoft's quality is not going down for the simple reason they didn't have any to begin with!
 ;D
Have you ever used Excel? Have you any concept of what an excellent piece of software it is (and has always been)? Don't make such blanket statements or you shoot yourself in the foot.
 

Offline latebind

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« Reply #22 on: 29/03/2009 20:16:51 »
Microsoft's quality is not going down for the simple reason they didn't have any to begin with!
 ;D

The simple fact that you have access to a computer to write that sentence is because Microsoft played a big role in bringing you it! The fact that this super-cool website is accessible to nearly everyone is because Microsoft played a big role in bringing you it!

Now on a lighter note, there should be a law forbidding someone from using a computer if they have a negative IQ. So nubemet consider yourself lucky to use a computer, and thank Microsoft.
« Last Edit: 29/03/2009 20:22:46 by latebind »
 

Offline LeeE

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« Reply #23 on: 29/03/2009 21:20:51 »
I'm with nubernet; the quality of MS software has always been very poor.  I think that both Sophicentaur and latebind are confusing features with quality.  Like I said earlier, rather than "It just works", it's more a case of "It works, just".

MS software, especially in terms of their apps running on top of their OS's, is fragile.

There's tons of rilly, rilly clever software, but it falls on it's face half of the time and only works when everything is just so.  Instead of being unlucky when it fails, you're actually being lucky when it works.  There's a huge difference between the two, for the people who have to keep it working.

Edit: correct a "your" for a "you're"
« Last Edit: 29/03/2009 21:33:21 by LeeE »
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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« Reply #24 on: 29/03/2009 21:22:41 »
Eth. Where is the best place to host a website at little or perferably zero cost?

And if I found a website design and sent you a link asking how do they do that :) could ya enlighten me a little? I have installed notetab and had a play with soms fuctions. Is there anything apart from dreamweaver, which I find too complicated, that will do the job I want.

Looking at a fairly basic info based webpage with a scroll bar on R/H.
 

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« Reply #24 on: 29/03/2009 21:22:41 »

 

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