March 27, 2006 12:05 PM PST

Gates on the speed of Windows updates

Nobody ever said software development was easy.

In the wake of Microsoft's decision to delay the widespread release of Vista, Chairman Bill Gates met with CNET and discussed the software company's struggle to ship Vista, the burden of backward compatibility, and how new features will be constantly added to Windows. Below is an excerpt--for the full interview, click here:

Q: Microsoft did a lot of work to combine the consumer and business versions of Windows into one code base with Windows XP, and most people find it a lot more stable. Some folks, after last week's decision to delay Vista were saying maybe Microsoft should go back to having more releases for consumers and fewer for businesses. Do you have a sense of what it is that people want in the next version of Windows? Is it different for consumers than businesses?

Gates: Well, businesses often move in waves where they'll upgrade many things at the same time, their own applications, Office, Windows. They like to roll things out in groups so that the business processes or user training, the support, gets aligned around a whole stack of software. And so you have businesses that are very quick to get everything out and you'll have businesses that tend to lag in getting things out, and then you'll have other businesses, just because of the rhythm they'll hit our cycles when they want to make changes or they'll be off our cycle. So sometimes they'll be very state-of-the-art and sometimes they'll be a few years behind.

Security issues have made it more imperative to get up on the latest technology, and so that's really meant us making it simpler to test what pieces you have in your environment, how easy it's going to be to make that transition. There's a lot we're doing to make the transition easier, and there's more we can do to really make it rote for somebody to say, OK, I have this in my installed base, let's see which of those Microsoft has already tested, let's see which of those are unique to us--let's have things to automate the testing that we feel we need to do for those things that are unique to us.

Q: Does it make sense to have Windows be something that is updated like Office on a pretty regular basis, regardless of the level of innovation that's there? Should there be a new version of Windows every 18 months?

Gates: (Features) like the browser user interface, the media capability, some of those things you can have updates more often than even every 18 months and users who want that can download those things because they don't affect compatibility. Whereas the file system or the scheduler, the rights protection pieces, the device driver interfaces--those you're never going to modify more often than every three years, or in many of those cases you want to leave those things alone for way longer than that.

Take device-driver interfaces. You might let there be additional APIs, but you're going to still need to run most of the drivers that were written 10 years ago. So layering is the key here, and consumers may upgrade some of these things like the browser more often than businesses. That's hard to characterize. The one nice thing we've seen with consumers is they really use Auto Update, and so we're sort of their IT department in terms of updating. It's more complex for businesses. But even there the progress over the last four years of getting SMS (Systems Management Server) to be deployed and used and understood--how they take the updates in and when they pass them along to their systems--we've done super well on that, but it's not as simple as somebody just choosing to have Auto Update come from us.

To read the full text of the interview with Gates, along with Doug Burgum, chairman of Microsoft Business Solutions, click here.

See more CNET content tagged:
Bill Gates, device driver, information technology, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Corp.


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Posted by Dr Dude (49 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
I agree with what you said. When Apple made the switch from OS 9
to OS X, many people didn't want to go because it was such a
radical change, but they had the comfort of "classic mode" the
emulator for the older 9 operating system. There they left room for
your old applications while you had the experience of the new one.
Come on Microsoft, "Think Different".
Posted by MikeyT5663 (4 comments )
Link Flag
runs all versions of Windows. They're stuck with it until they redo it like Apple did!
Posted by paulsecic (298 comments )
Link Flag
This article 'Windows is so slow, but why?' should tell why
Read the article titled 'Windows is so slow, but why?' in This talks why windows is slow!!.

1) Huge customer base. If they break compatibility, they will irritate more people.

2) Compatibility with numerouse hardware.

3) Intergration with other products they make, is a big time hog.

I am sure if Apple had the same market share in pc as Microsoft does, they will face same set of problems. May be they will be able resolve it in a different way.
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
Because MS supports it's customer base
unlike Apple who continues to shaft their customers.

That's the answer you ******** deserve for asking stupid questions.

A more reasonable answer for those who are less wedded to being knee-jerk (or just plain jerk) anti-MS would be that by breaking compatability with the past users are forced to rebuild old applications, one question any user should ask when forced to make such a change is whether they should change platforms. By maintaining backwards compatability MS keeps many users that might otherwise decide to change platforms.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag

i was howling reading today about Microsoft's 50 Million lines of Vista Code ALBATROSS!!

& Microsoft employees asking for Ballmer to Resign!

WooooooooHoooooooo!! ;))

Funny too that all the Corporate Boneheads that bought into that IBM-PC/MS-DOS & forced that crap on the poor end-users & public are getting their Just Desserts!

Any For Sale Signs on Dr Simonyi or Paul Allen's SUPER YACHTS??

Microsoft is Going Down!! ;))
Posted by BillyWarhol (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by NRecob (78 comments )
Link Flag
Apple has the luxury...
Apple has the luxury of writing an operating system that only works on one brand of hardware -theirs.

Microsoft has to write operating systems that work on Dell computers, and HP computers, and...

I'm not interested in becoming an AppleBorg, with no hardware choices. :-)

That said, yes, MS's operating system development is too slow.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple made their luxury...
M$ made their bed too. Now they (and you poor saps) have to lay
in it.

There are several choices. Don't come crying to us when yours
turns out to be a pile of cr@p.
Posted by Dr Dude (49 comments )
Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by NRecob (78 comments )
Link Flag
M$ Crashtest
M$ Windows should be called M$ Crashtest, since it crashes so
much on laptops...

Looking forward to Mac OS X 10.5 on an x86 Macbook Pro w/
VMWare (Mac version is said to be in the works)
Posted by libertyforall1776 (650 comments )
Link Flag
mistaken view
Other UNIX variants such as Linux and FreeBSD run on a wide range of hardware. OSX could very easily do the same since it's based on FreeBSD. Apple could make OSX work on Dell and HP machines within a matter of months if that was their business strategy. Don't buy into Microsoft excuses about why their OS has so many failings.
Posted by mindpower (47 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah, Steve writes in assembler...
You don't know squat about Apple. They've done a tremendous
job of supporting legacy hardware as long as they can. OS X still
runs on some pretty old hardware. Of cousre, Apple knows when
to cut ties with the past and move on. When they want to create
the next revolution in operating systems. The underlying
technology is borrowed from open source (Darwin, BSD) and tied
together very nicely. It works and it works very well for the very
reasons why Windows Vista is such a trainwreck to this point in

Microsoft will survive very well, no doubt. But don't fool yourself.
The biggest problem with MS is they don't know when to let go
of old hardware. Their greed to force everyone to upgarde to the
latest OS blinds them to the fact that if they moved on like Apple
does, they would be able to create an OS that would draw people
to it in spite of themselves.

Just like Apple did with OS X. You should have heard the whining
and complaints from OS8 and OS 9 users (even OS 5 and 6 and
7!) about OS X getting so much attention. And how their
computers would never run it. We're talking computers that are
seven and more years old! They whined about the new finder,
the way folders are organized on the hard drive, etc. etc.

But finally, Mac users have seen the light and see that OS X is
teh best Mac OS ever, and it's getting better. Microsoft will
borrow this some day, or they might just fall into irrelevence. It'll
just take a long time, since MCSE diploma mill graduates
wouldn't know what to do with themselves if they actually had to
understand what makes computers tick to do their jobs.
Posted by ewelch (767 comments )
Reply Link Flag
and i used os-x
and we had to revert back to os9 cauyse of the many many problems it caused with our old documents
Posted by darkr (97 comments )
Link Flag
Will I be "Cool" if I buy a Mac? ::Laughing::
Or "enlightened" or "special"?
Posted by NRecob (78 comments )
Reply Link Flag
... nothing would help you...
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
the applications I use the most
1. MKS Toolkit
2. Goldmine
3. Multi-edit
4. MS Office
5. Bartender Professional
6. BusinessMap

When the equivalent products exist on a Mac for 2, 3, 5, and 6 on the above list, then I would consider a Mac to be useful. Without a robust CRM application, and please don't reply by posting something about "ACT!," then the Mac can never be taken seriously.

None of the earlier Mac OS's were capable of multi-tasking, and yet Mac users still raved about them. OS X, or whatever it's called is better, but the applications still aren't good enough.

And as far as support goes, I made the mistake of purchasing an Apple Laserwriter 8500. Unless something has changed since the last time I checked, the information provided on their website was abysmal. I wish they would use some of that "innovation" they're so famous for to better support the very expensive hardware they've sold in the past.
Posted by Robert_Allan (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
uhhh ...
Actually, they do seem to be providing support for the 8500 that they didn't before. I stand corrected.
Posted by Robert_Allan (9 comments )
Link Flag
Actually, Macs have multi-tasked since System 5 added Multi-Finder around 1988, about 7 years before Windows 95. However, it didn't really become part of the OS until 1991 when System 7 was released. (Still 4 yrs before Win '95).

I can't speak for your applications listed, nor am I interested in "converting" anyone, but for the record, most things Windows does, Mac did first and usually better. Remember, it was Gates (after seeing the Mac) that bellowed, "I WANT IT!" (according to legend).

I don't know what year the Laserwriter 8500 was sold, but Apple went through several horrible years without Steve Jobs. Much like Microsoft is going through hard times now without Gates. (See any article recently about Vista's delay) Ballmer should step down and give Paul Allen a shot at running MS.
Posted by nitewing98 (9 comments )
Link Flag
You are correct
You definitely need to continue using a Windows machine. But you
forgot to list the three most important applications for any
Windows user:

1. Antivirus
2. Antispyware
3. Installation disks (for rebuilding the system.)
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
how about ...
2. SugarCRM (open source, multi platform and free)
3. Eclipse (as above, sponsored by IBM no less)
5. BarcodeX
6. don't know BusinessMap so can't offer a Mac alternative
Posted by mindpower (47 comments )
Link Flag
umm MCPs do riggorous training
A) most people know how to fix a ibm
b) most mcps know how to fix hardware and software
c) crash amac you have to send itinto a mac dealer to fix at 50bucks an hour
dude where are you getting your facts? most PC users know how to use their computers

mac users don't know what to do when something is wrong and there is no easy way to fix one like the memory leaks and you can't open documents cause of it. most mac users buy macs cause they don't want to deal with how a computer works but they send it to someone who can fix it at a graeter expence
Posted by darkr (97 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I love it when a PC-borg says things about Macs that have no relation to reality. If you tell me you like Windows and see no need to change, fine. But if you knock Apple/Mac just to justify your own use of Windows, you look sad.

And for the record: Mac users are better educated (according to a recent study) than PC users and have more income. And so little goes wrong with them that we don't worry about fixing them (unlike my dad's Win98 machine, which I am fixing for him constantly, and it's an IBM!).

Where did PC users get the idea that Mac users are dummies just because we EXPECT our software to be smart? It doesn't me we're stupid, on the contrary, we're smart enough to buy something that WORKS as advertised.
Posted by nitewing98 (9 comments )
Link Flag
Wrong Phi!
I fix my own mac!! It has been my experience that it is the PC's
always needing fixed! My powerbook purrs right along even when I
push it hard.
Posted by bureauguy (26 comments )
Link Flag
Need Both
There is not need to show venom because someone doesn't do things your way. It is a free market system. Let people pick what they want. I have friends with Macs who love them and friends with PCs that swear by Windows. In the end, you need to have a daring company like Apple to take risks that can be endured AND enjoyed by a smaller market. Microsoft, on the other hand, MUST provide a "chain of continuity" for the massive market they control.
I applaud both companies for pushing each other to create better things for today's consumer.
Posted by rgor (332 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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