Four years ago…


I was working in building 50, the SCP project was clearly approaching it’s end-of-life, and I was casting around the company looking for new opportunities.  When a project is end-of-lifed, the powers that be usually try to find a new home for all the people involved on the project.

I was in my office, and this guy named Dennis Flanagan stopped by my office and asked me if I’d be interested in taking on a new project in the group that would be known as WMDG (the Windows Media and Devices Group).  You see, they had this wacky idea of building up infrastructure that would allow Windows to discover UPnP devices and create PnP devnodes for those devices (which would mean that the devices would show up in the Windows Device Manager).  I started working right away and had a prototype working relatively quickly.  The problem was that the project needed external evangelism, and I didn’t have the contacts or skills to move it forward. So the project sat on the shelf and the concepts were eventually integrated into the Function Discovery and the UMDF

For whatever reason, I had been slotted into a team that was sort-of a mishmash of different functions.  There was me, another developer who was working on something called “device discovery” (which later evolved into Function Discovery), a team of a couple of developers working on UI for audio for Windows Codename Longhorn, and a team of a couple of developers working on the supporting infrastructure for Windows Codename Longhorn.

My manager at the time, Frank Yerrace, had a bunch of work that needed to be done in the audio infrastructure team, and he saw that I had essentially been idled, so he asked if I would mind driving a chunk of the new audio infrastructure known as the policy engine.

Thus began my time working on the Longhorn project.

 

Over the past four years, there have been a number of memorable milestones.  There was time when Alper Selcuk first got the new audio engine playing sounds.  There was the whole Longhorn Reset and the birth of Windows Vista.  And then there was my 43rd birthday present: We RI’ed the new audio engine into Vista.  At that point we were 100% committed – we HAD to make the new audio stack work in Vista, there was no way to turn back.

 

Other milestones: Vista Beta 1 (July of 2005), the Audio team’s final Beta 2 push which included the final integration of the audio policy infrastructure I started back in 2002 (August 2005), the death of my father (August 15, 2005), Vista Beta 2 (May 2006), Vista RC1 (September 2006), and ultimately Vista RTM (November 2006).

 

Over the years, we’ve lost friends and family. Syon Bhattacharya lost his battle with stomach cancer in 2004. Steve Swenson, who designed most of the architecture of the Vista audio engine passed on September 11, 2005.  My father passed on August 15th, 2005, other members of the team have also lost parents and other loved ones.

But after all was said and done, as of 11:00AM today, it’s official.  You can put a fork in it, Windows Vista is finally DONE.  That’s it, it’s off to manufacturing.

 

This one’s for you guys.


Comments (21)

  1. orcmid says:

    I’m reading feeds from back to front this morning and yours is the first Vista RTM notice I’ve received.  (Your feed goes into a folder called Windows Development, along with those of some of your chums, including Raymond.)

    So I’ll say it here.

    Congratulations.

    And that is a very touching commemoration.  Thanks.

  2. mahoekst says:

    Congratulations Larry. It was a long run, must be really something contributing to a product millions and millions of people will use. Everytime a sound plays part of your code is run. cool!

    Maybe when you have time you could tell us something about how things go around your team when nearing RTM. I can’t imaging you are all working on Vista during the last weeks. Do you start with the next version? Other projects?

  3. Soundtweaker says:

    What about Vista SP1? jk. Take a few weeks off you deserve it.

    Excellent work.

  4. Andy C says:

    Congrats Larry, it seems like such a long journey, lets hope it turns out worth the effort.

  5. Gene Hamilton says:

    Congratulations.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on Vista.

  6. Thanks for your contribution to getting Vista RTM . I want to use it on my tablet PC .

  7. Martin Puryear says:

    You’re one of my heroes Larry.  Thanks for all your hard work on the audio core.  Audio policy liveth!  

  8. Sven Groot says:

    And after all that, SPDIF passthrough still doesn’t work properly in Vista… :P

    Congrats, to all of you!

  9. JamesNT says:

    Larry,

    Thank you very much for all your hard work.  I’m going to be giving a presentation to my fellow computer science classmates on Windows Vista today, here at UNCW, and everyone seems to be very excited as to what is going on and what Vista will have to offer.

    I also want you to know that I understand the dark side of your job.  It must be absolutely horrible to sit back and watch "supposed" professional technology writers publish hardware recommendations for Vista based on beta code, talk some of the other trash they talk, and otherwise tell the world that your work is crap and that Vista should be ignored.  

    ZDNet and Slashdot be damned.

    Hang in there, Larry.  There are those of us who appreciate your work and know what it means to pull one’s hair out trying to figure out how to get some function() to do what one wants it to do.

    Again, thanks for your work and dedication.

    James

  10. LarryOsterman says:

    Sven, SPDIF works fine in Vista.  You may need an updated driver from your audio solution vendor though.

  11. Yay, or something says:

    It might be off to manufacturing, but I’m sure someone’s already working on SP1, and an assortment of patches that will be ready for download the day it’s on the shelves.   ;)   That’s software for you.

  12. TedYoumans says:

    Nice write up Larry, I have always enjoyed your blogs.

    "talk some of the other trash they talk, and otherwise tell the world that your work is crap and that Vista should be ignored"

    I have a theory about this. It can be argued that ‘nice’ stories are boring and if you really want to entertain someone exposing the not-so-nice aspects is the way to do it. While society does have an inexplicable taste for reality shows, I don’t personally believe that is the reason for scathing articles. Everyone likes to believe that they make a difference in the world, none more so than journalists. Saying that a company is on the right track or giving lavish praise will make absolutely no difference if that company or product is already entrenched. What the journalist would be trying to accomplish is already done. On the other hand derisive comments can have impact and sway public opinion, thereby achieving the ultimate goal. I believe that the media tends to fight for the underdog, despite any blemish, until such time as they are no longer needed; then they immediately swing the other way in order to continue to have impact.

  13. JamesW says:

    "talk some of the other trash they talk, and otherwise tell the world that your work is crap and that Vista should be ignored"

    The road to Vista has been an interesting one. It would be bizarre if all the reports were glowing and positive – it had the distinct whiff of a train wreck for quite some time. I do hope that the inside history of the Longhorn/Vista development process gets written up sometime: it would be an interesting, and no doubt informative, read.

    C:ongrat.lns on getting it out though (really). Now to see what it’s really like, and most importantly what the users will make of it…

  14. Congratulations Larry. A fantastic milestone to have reached. A big weight of your shoulders. A great feeling. Thanks also for taking the time to blog, despite your undoubted time-pressure.

  15. JamesNT says:

    JamesW and others,

    Was Vista really that long in the making?  I mean, really?  Most people count Vista as having come out 5 years after the debute of Windows XP Service Pack 0.  But what have we had since then?

    Windows XP SP1

    Windows XP SP2

    Windows Server 2003 SP1

    Windows Server 2003 R2

    What if Vista came out at the same time as XP SP2?  Could you imagine the horror of sysadmins everywhere doing compatiblity tests for SP2 and Vista?

    I think Vista has come out right on schedule.  We’ve had time to get the kinks in compatilbility worked out with SP2 and recover.  We have had time to see yet another paradigm shift in how the bad guys attack us (i.e. phishing now as opposed to mass mailer worms).  

    In fact, I would argue that if it wasn’t for XP SP2, we wouldn’t be anywhere near as ready for Vista as we are now.

    And don’t forget, you can sit happily on XP SP2 for another FOUR YEARS if you want and still be fully supported.

    James

  16. JamesW says:

    ‘Was Vista really that long in the making?’

    Er, yes? Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Vista :

    Microsoft started work on their plans for "Longhorn" in May 2001, prior to the release of Microsoft’s Windows XP

    and

    It was originally expected to ship sometime late in 2003 as a minor step between Windows XP and "Blackcomb"

    and

    Microsoft announced on August 27, 2004 [1 year late already] that it was making significant changes. "Longhorn" development basically started afresh, building on the Windows Server 2003 codebase, and re-incorporating only the features that would be intended for an actual operating system release.

    Admittedly Wikipedia cannot know the whole story, but something clearly went wrong during the development of Vista. I said it would be interesting if the inside story of its development were to emerge. Not so I can point at Microsoft and shout ‘Ha! Ha!’, but because there’s probably a lesson for all involved in software development lurking there.

  17. Sven Groot says:

    Larry, while I hate to turn this into a discussion about SPDIF (not really the place for it), I’ve already talked about this on C9 once. SPDIF basically works in Vista. I have an "SPDIF-output" device listed under playback devices, and I can run tests with AC3 and DTS signals and they end up at my decoder just fine. So the driver isn’t the problem.

    The problem is at the application side. Media Center is the only application that can use SPDIF passthrough. Windows Media Player cannot, PowerDVD cannot, MPlayer Classic cannot. It doesn’t matter how I change my settings and what device I set as the default, Media Center remains the only application that can use it. Everything else fails.

    I bugged WMP’s issues at RC1. The bug was closed as fixed but RC2 was still broken. I can only hope the issue is fixed in RTM.

    This happens on two completely different sound cards (onboard Realtek AC’97 and Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic), both with exactly the same symptoms, so I sincerely doubt it’s a driver issue.

    In the mean time, I still reboot into XP whenever I want to watch a DVD.

    And just yesterday I discovered Dreamfall is unable to use EAX in Vista, despite the fact that the release notes for the X-Fi drivers specifically say they support EAX. So that’s something I’ll have to use XP for as well. This could be a driver issue though, and I’ve also not had the chance to test any other games with EAX support, so maybe it’s just a bug in Dreamfall.

    Sound is absolutely the most important thing to me. It’s a billion times more important than video. My soundcard and speakers cost way more than my videocard and monitor. If I think the experience Vista gives me there is even 1% less than XP, I will continue to use XP for that purpose. So far SPDIF and EAX are two of those situations.

  18. JamesNT says:

    JamesW:

    Er, no.  I stand by my original assertion.  I don’t think anyone here would want to test deployment of XP SP2 and Vista at the same time.  I also don’t think anyone here would want to buy a whole new OS with all the new stuff Vista has before they even finished ripping off the plastic from all the new XP boxes.  

    5 years really isn’t that long and I still argue is right on time.  With all the changes that have gone on in the past 5 years, no one would have had time for Vista until now, anyway.

    James

  19. Norman Diamond says:

    Friday, November 10, 2006 1:30 PM by JamesW

    > there’s probably a lesson for all involved in software

    > development lurking there.

    Of course there is.  There was even a book about it, written by Fred Brooks.

    Thursday, November 09, 2006 11:21 PM by JamesW

    > it had the distinct whiff of a train wreck for quite some time.

    Considering the kind of bugs that were closed as "won’t fix" and "not reproducible" (100% reproducible except inside Microsoft), that "quite some time" is going to continue for several service packs.

  20. kiwiblue says:

    @JamesNT: "I think Vista has come out right on schedule. "

    Sure. And Visual Studio 2005 is a high quality product too, right?

  21. JamesNT says:

    Why yes I do.  

    JamesNT