Last Tuesday I asked what was going to happen to all those Microsoft Vista employees since I believe that Microsoft will be hard pressed to find work for all of them. After writing that piece, I wondered if I’d wake up the next day saying “Oh of course, they can do X.” But if anything, my opinion has hardened. Here are two problems Microsoft faces in keeping these people busy:
(1) Security: We’re told these days that Microsoft “gets” security, and Vista is (or will be) the most secure OS ever. (Never mind that it’s been pirated already, more than one way …) To maintain good security, Microsoft must keep the number of people modifying it to a minimum, and review their work carefully. We’ve known since the mid 1960’s that fixing bugs in a large piece of code creates new bugs. Even if Microsoft wants to improve every aspect of the OS and add new features to it soon, they must go slow in the name of security.
(2) Timeliness: Suppose Microsoft starts working on the next version of Windows right this moment, or did that a few months ago. The project must go through much research and definition before a large staff can work on it in parallel. That new Windows can hardly keep more then a dozen (maybe a hundred) people occupied for a year or so. Other Vista employees can go do something else at Microsoft, provided there are “something else” projects that are well-defined and ready for large staffs to develop them in parallel. If these projects exist, they can hardly be secret. What are they, please tell me!