Whenever I hear about Phidgets I think of Phillip Torrone. Geeky stuff. What else is there to know? Build your own circuit or robot or whatever. Cool!
Mike Sax gets quoted in a CNET article the other day (the reporter only used his two negative quotes) and he reports the full story on his blog.
Asa, over at MozillaZine, takes a shot at me (I deserved it). But, this demonstrates pretty well why these changes are being made.
As I, and other evangelists, showed off Longhorn to developers we kept hearing the same thing:
"This is cool."
"Oh, wait, it's Longhorn only?"
"Yep," I'd answer.
"Uh, call us after it ships and you get X marketshare." (X being a variable between 0% and 100%).
That's basically what Mozilla answered too, and they weren't alone.
Then there was Joel Spolsky's rant about how Microsoft was losing the API war. Out of all the developers who write blogs, his is the most influential in my mind -- one link from his blog recently sent 12,000 readers -- and his rant caused more conversations internally among the geeks (devs and testers) than anything I've seen written all year. I've been reading his new book this weekend, by the way, and it gives deep insights on Microsoft and software development and management culture.
Then there's the constant meetings with non-geek customers that I kept having. "Can you help me get my system back working? I keep getting these bizarre popups every few seconds..."
I got just that question again while traveling this weekend. Translation: non-geek customers are asking for better protection against malware, spyware, etc. They care about that a lot more than if they can do some cool new video or 3D trick on screen.
Another point of view? We were making the wrong bets based on where the industry is going. Sales of Tablet PCs has been going up lately. And notebooks are white hot.
One thing, what matters on Tablet PCs? Battery life, and low heat while giving decent performance. Now, what happens when you need a better graphics processor? Less battery life and more heat. Longhorn's Avalon was going to require a beefy graphic processor (look at all the demo machines, we barely could get the latest builds to run on a top-of-the-line Alienware machine).
Translation: Longhorn wasn't aimed at the sweet spot of the market anymore and our customers were telling us to go in a different direction.
Another point of view? Remember when a group of us tried to go off and build an app about two months ago with the product teams? That was a turning point for me. I saw that Avalon was pretty easy to work with (I even understood that). But WinFS was very difficult. Only the best teams actually got something done there. And we were working off of a script that basically told us where everything was.
That told me that WinFS needed more work. Plus, when I asked about certain scenarios (servers, networks, adding in weird devices, etc) the team didn't have strong answers that made me feel good.
If I was sensing this, I can just imagine what it was like when they were doing their pitches to execs. One thing I've learned about Allchin and Gates and crowd: they aren't easily sold on something.
The bar to get technology into Windows is very high. Why? Support costs. Imagine if WinFS shipped and didn't support an obsure model of hard drive, or something like that. Even an obscure scenario might affect hundreds of thousands of people. That would increase support calls. Not good.
But, don't take it from me. I'm not a "real" Longhorn evangelist, I just play one on TV. Seriously, I'm not on Steve Cellini's team (he's the guy who runs the Longhorn evangelism team) and I'm not working hand-in-hand to get developers to build stuff for Longhorn the way his team does. Translation: what they say about Longhorn is 1000 times more credible than anything I could say about it.
Who is? Well, Jeremy Mazner is one of Cellini's team members. He gives the scoop on what happened to Longhorn and WinFS here.
How about the view of someone who actually is directly involved? Chris Anderson is an architect on the Avalon team and here he answers a bunch of Q&As. I'm sure more will come soon on blogs, as well as on official Microsoft sites like the MSDN Longhorn Dev Center (which just got updated).
I gotta get some sleep, but I'm sure there'll be more to talk about over the next few days.
Already I'm seeing some questions like "well, if all that stuff doesn't ship with Longhorn, what's gonna get people to upgrade?" Or, "this really means that WinFS is dead, doesn't it?"
The WinFS question I can answer right now. The Channel 9 crew (me, Bryn, and Charles) bumped into Samuel Druker, of the WinFS team, the other day after we had learned about all these changes. He told us that the WinFS team is still there and is still working on WinFS. So, no, it is not dead. Allchin told us that there'll be a WinFS beta released when Longhorn ships (so, beta of WinFS in 2006). I'll keep checking in on the team and if that changes I'll let you know.
As to what'll get people to upgrade to Longhorn? Um, do I have any credibility to start talking about potential features with you again?
I don't think so, but what do you think?
Heh, Jim Allchin made fun of the Channel 9 camera. Couldn't believe we actually did use $450 video cameras at Microsoft (I guess he's used to seeing professional video crews). We filmed a bit with Jim Allchin on Friday. If you don't know who Jim is, he's the guy who runs the Windows team. Why was he talking with us? Oh, the Windows team announced some news on Friday and we wanted to get it straight from the top. Thanks Jim for taking some time out of your busy schedule.
I'm just gonna go through my feeds in alphabetical order. I have 87 items collected on the Longhorn story and I'll post the best with a quote. The rest will be up on my linkblog.
Joe Duffy: "I'm extremely excited about this."
Brian Randell: "Makes me a bit glad I've been too busy to play with WinFS."
Chris Garty: "The new nickname? Shorthorn. Brilliant ;)"
Chris Sells (the guy who runs MSDN's Longhorn Developer Center): Links to "lots of interesting news."
Christian Nagel: "Now Avalon development can start earlier."
Dare Obasanjo: "This has been an instructive experience in learning how long it takes information to go from the front lines to the ones pulling the strings in the B0rg cube. And how long it takes folks to act on this information."
Erik J. Barzeski: "The end result? Even more time for Mac OS X to beat Windows to the punch."
Jason Olson: "Will Longhorn still be Longhorn?"
Joel Spolsky: "(MSDNMag 0, RaymondChen 1!)"
John Dowdell (works at Macromedia): "An "Avalon XP" codebase... how will it be delivered?"
Kathleen Dollard (long-time Microsoft-centric developer): "Avalon is the most exciting piece of Longhorn to me."
Kevin Daly: "I think WinFS is an idea whose time has come...in its absence (for now) I'd like to see consistent managed APIs for things like Contacts and so on (all that Outlooky stuff), much as is planned for the next version of Windows Mobile."
Chris Pirillo: "No word on whether or not the UI will still be ass-ugly."
Loren Heiny (ISV/Developer): "Some may be disappointed in the delay on WinFS. I'm not."
Niels Berglund: "Is it just me, or does Longhorn start to smell like Cairo?"
Marco Russo: "Longhorn will be not so different fom XP."
Microsoft Monitor's Joe Wilcox: "The days of big OS releases are behind us, and I'm glad to see Microsoft taking a more evolutionary approach with its desktop OS."
Mitch Denny: "Personally I think you are putting a bit of spin on it."
Richard Tallent: "Bummer."
Richard Callaby (in reaction to Gillmor Gang): "I hate this idea of net based operating system."
Robert McLaws: "Something had to give."
Scott Swigart: "I think this is completely the right decision."
Chris Anderson (who works on the Avalon team): "For the past couple weeks we’ve been working out what this means for Avalon, and so far it is shaping up to look pretty good."
In Audio Reaction, the Gillmor Gang talked almost exclusively about this stuff on last week's show (Steve Gillmor, Doc Searls, David Sifry, Dana Gardner, Mary Jo Foley, and Ross Mayfield were on).
So, what's my reaction? Coming soon.