LOS ANGELES-Microsoft may have made mistakes launching Windows Vista, but the operating system was far from a failure, said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Bob Muglia, the company’s senior vice president of servers and tools.
The embattled OS may have gone too far in improving security at the expense of application compatibility, and ignored performance issues such as battery life, but sales of the product are evidence that it was a popular success. Also, Ballmer told eWEEK in an interview, Feb. 27, following the launch of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008, here, updates such as SP1 have improved it’s shortcomings,.
Muglia alluded to the perceived success of Server 2008 as opposed to Vista, despite their shared code base.
“It’s not really a popularity question in the broad market,” he said, referring to sales figures and Microsoft’s last quarterly financial results. “We made a number of improvements in security at the expense of some compatibility in Windows Vista, which some saw as improved quality, while others did not,”
“You don’t learn, you tune,” Ballmer said of lessons learned from the Vista launch. “We over-tuned in security, in a sense, because the feedback from three and four years ago was that we had under-tuned. So maybe we over-tuned on security versus compatibility.
“But, we continue to tune and get smarter and better at that, so as to try and hit the sweet spot where we can respond to all requests without having to trade off one set of properties against another,” he said.
“We have made a lot of progress with Windows Vista,” he said. “I think SP1 is a major milestone, and a lot of the work on compatibility has come via the work of third-party ISVs and hardware vendors. But I think Windows Vista SP1 will be a kind of mile-post that people will use to see where we are with it now.”
Windows versus Windows
Windows versus Windows
One of the most interesting aspects of the negative perception of Windows Vista versus the positive reception of Windows Server 2008 is that they are both built from the same code base, Muglia said.
While there are significant differences between the codes for the two products, about 80 percent of the core code is shared, and that core code is “rock solid,” he said.
Among the popular features Muglia and his development team crafted with Windows Server 2008 was to make it very easy to run in a customer’s existing environment, making it simple to introduce Windows Server 2008 next to their other servers.
“With Vista there are some game drivers and other applications, which makes the upgrade a little bit harder, and that is one of the differences,” Muglia said.
Muglia said the core of Windows Server 2008 is, essentially, a 2008 Workstation product. “That’s the funny thing,” he said. “The core is the same core, literally. With Vista SP1 it is one code base, off one set of build trees.”
Timing Was Not Simple
Microsoft also did not want another five-year release cycle between products, as had happened with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, as that lowered its ability to be agile. “I don’t want to go through the whole story of why it happened this time, but it won’t again, on either the client or server,” Ballmer said.
But timing was not a simple issue as the time-period between releases where the engine was fine tuned and functionality was added would be longer than when the core capabilities were not touched, he said.
Two to three years between releases on the client would be ideal, but Windows Live did bring the ability for more frequent releases, with releases every three years on the server side would be optimal. But there could be a minor release in-between the major releases every three years, he said.
“It is ironic,” Ballmer said, “that everything in the Windows Server 2008 release is integrated, but can be deintegrated, which is what server core is all about. Let me just call that as ironic.”