Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why Windows Seems Like a Dead End

Summary: Yesterday's USENET post from Richard Rasker quoted verbatim



Subject: Windows 7's dirty secrets revealed From: Richard Rasker <spamtrap@linetec.nl> (Linetec) Date: Thursday 19 Nov 2009 18:07:34 Groups: comp.os.linux.advocacy




An interesting look under the hood of Windows -- and in particular Vista 7:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/18/windows_7_heart/

It would appear that quite a bit of criticism on the technical implementation of Windows and the knowledge of Microsoft's programmers actually isn't all that far off the mark:

- Criticism: Windows is such a convoluted mess that even Microsoft doesn't understand it any more:

"the operating system is full of internal dependencies, and as Russinovich admitted: "We don't really understand those dependencies". Engineers have added features to low-level APIs that assume the presence of dynamic link libraries (DLLs) that belong with higher level APIs, and when you try to extract just those low-level components, they break."

The upside here is of course that they're actually working on improving things in this respect, even though I think that the *nix way of dealing with libraries is far superior.

- Criticism: Windows depends heavily on dirty hacks to offer at least the illusion of speed:

"Microsoft has been in the habit of combining unrelated APIs into the same DLL for performance reasons."

and

"Microsoft also picked out 300 common user actions, such as clicking the Start menu or opening Control Panel, and gave them intensive optimisation to improve perceived performance."

- Criticism: Windows encourages sloppy, messy programming:

"How about reliability? This was fascinating. Microsoft observed that 15 per cent of all user-mode crashes and 30 per cent of shutdown crashes were caused by heap corruption: applications that try to access freed memory, or memory beyond what is allocated. Its solution was a feature called the Fault Tolerant Heap (FTH). ... "The user gets better reliability at the expense of performance, which suffers by up to 15 per cent or so, while buggy applications work better than you would expect."

I really don't think that this is a good idea. If there's one way to make a computer behave less predictable and perhaps make programmers lazy and sloppy, it's to implement fault tolerance for software bugs.

Richard Rasker



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