Tales of Vista development at MSFT

An interesting opinion on Vista’s project management issues from a former development manager on the Vista team (now a manager on the Tablet PC team at Microsoft).

It’s worth a read, is better informed than my outsider opinion, with references to action vs. results management, Too many cooks, Broken windows theory, opnions on Line of code measurements, etc. One favorite quote from his essay:

After months of hearing of how a certain influential team in Windows was going to cause the Vista release to slip, I, full of abstract self-righteous misgivings as a stockholder, had at last the chance to speak with two of the team’s key managers, asking them how they could be so, please excuse the term, I don’t mean its value laden connotation, ignorant as to proper estimation of software schedules.

Turns out they’re actually great project managers. They knew months in advance that the schedule would never work. So they told their VP. And he, possibly influenced by one too many instances where engineering re-routes power to the warp core, thus completing the heretofore impossible six-hour task in a mere three, summarily sent the managers back to “figure out how to make it work.” The managers re-estimated, nipped and tucked, liposuctioned, did everything short of a lobotomy — and still did not have a schedule that fit. The VP was not pleased.

“You’re smart people. Find a way!” This went back and forth for weeks, whereupon the intrepid managers finally understood how to get past the dilemma. They simply stopped telling the truth. “Sure, everything fits. We cut and cut, and here we are. Vista by August or bust. You got it, boss.”

Note: I had to set font size down in Firefox (Ctrl -) to read this without wanting to bash my monitor in.

(From metafilter)

3 Responses to “Tales of Vista development at MSFT”

  1. Kevin Brady

    I can magine the VP Steve Bellmar making the statement. Find a Way !! This is the same man who states that in ordr to get delivery from your IT staff you need to sack significant numbers of your staff each year just to keep the rest firghtened and on their toes.

    Wrote an article on this call Path to Project Success – http://www.claretyconsulting.com/it/comments/path-to-project-success/2006-06-13/

    In this article I discuss how the threatening behavour of senior management can be the begining of the begining of the end of a IT project or programme of work.

    I think the managment team were brave people with charactor and professionalism when you consider the aggressive statements their VP makes in the press concerning his bully boy approach to software engineering.

    Its clear that the VP as I have seen many times in my career is now following Hitlers last days in the bunker. Only positive military reports were tolerated along with tactical decision concerning the positioning of troops and tanks that no longer exist. Anything less is defeatism and execution. Look where this got Adolf Hitler.

    Good Luck Steve keep the Torture going. Torture the good guys enough and they will tell you anything. Great ! However, you won’t get Vista in line with your scedule and quality requirments. This will only damage your reputation with your shareholders. Try the slipping big but once technique and bring it in ahead of time. You might salvage more credabilty that way. Theres a thought.



  1. […] In Tales of Vista development at MSFT, Scott Berkun finds a money quote from a former Vista development manager. After finding resistance when reporting the truth, particularly of but not limited to slipping project schedules, engineers tend to fold. Travel 3,000 miles on foot within 2 hours? You, got it boss! […]

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