Joel Spolsky on Windows Vista’s Shut Down menu

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
November 29th, 2006 • 10:18 am

An item about Windows Vista’s “Off” button on Joel Spolsky’s blog, criticizing the cornucopia of choices for the simple task of… leaving the computer, prompted a very interesting response on Moishe Lettvin’s blog. Moishe Lettvin worked for Microsoft for a number of years and was involved in the development of this specific aspect of the Windows Vista interface.

Like Joel Spolsky says in a follow-up:

Every piece of evidence I’ve heard from developers inside Microsoft supports my theory that the company has become completely tangled up in bureaucracy, layers of management, meetings ad infinitum, and overstaffing.

When it comes to Microsoft software for the Mac, the concern does not appear to be “overstaffing” per se. In fact, the last we heard from the MacBU was that they were having trouble finding enough qualified people to hire. (They used this as an excuse to justify the elimination of Virtual PC and Visual Basic in the next version of Office.)

But I would not be surprised to hear that similar structural problems affect the MacBU, on a smaller scale. After all, the MacBU, even though it might have difficulty recruiting people, is still the largest third-party Mac developer out there. And if Moishe Lettvin is to be believed, the problem is with the very culture of management at Microsoft, which probably permeates all units, including the MacBU.

In addition, the MacBU might operate as an independent unit, but it still shares a large code base with its Windows counterpart, and probably has to follow a number of UI choices, conventions and requirements coming from the Windows side, whether they are Mac-friendly or not.

Of course, we have yet to see an ex-MacBU staff member share some of his experience through his personal blog like Moishe Lettvin did here. But if the quality of the MacBU’s work is to be judged based on the products that they release, then there is little reason to believe that things are much different from what they are on the Windows side at Microsoft.

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