We can’t cut that; it’s our last feature

Many years ago, I was asked to help a customer with a problem they were having. I don't remember the details, and they aren't important to the story anyway, but as I was investigating one of their crashes, I started to wonder why they were even doing it.

I expressed my concerns to the customer liaison. "Why are they writing this code in the first place? The performance will be terrible, and it'll never work exactly the way they want it to."

The customer liaison confided, "Yeah, I thought the same thing. But this is a feature they're adding to the next version of their product. The product is so far behind schedule, they've been cutting features like mad to get back on track. But they can't cut this feature. It's the last one left!"

Comments (38)
  1. David Walker says:

    No wonder they were so far behind schedule.  It sounds like they didn’t know much about software design (or even how to write code).

  2. mastmaker says:

    What Raymond forgot to add:

    Pre-emptive snarky comment: You don’t happen to be talking about Vista by any chance, do you?

  3. Name required says:

    <deletes snarky comment from Comments edit box>

  4. Bryan says:

    The snarky comment could have been:

    Vista didn’t have any features to cut in the first place!

  5. hahaha, I’ve sure you have lots of anecdotes like this.

  6. FusionGuy says:

    Why is everyone so hard on Vista.  Jeez.  It’s like everyone and their brothers jumped on an anti-Vista bandwagon and it’s not cool to be an outsider anymore.

  7. Beanholio says:

    It doesn’t seem to me that anyone is bashing on Vista–they’re assisting Raymond with his snarky comment game.  These responses are all in-line with what’s been snarkified in the past.  Pre-emptive snarky comment: Snarkified isn’t a word.

  8. John says:

    So, instead of everyone talking about the Nitpicker’s corner they are talking about the Pre-emptive snarky comment.  Why even bother with it?

  9. Cooney says:

    Snarkified is too a word – it has a specific meaning that most users agree on, therefore it’s a word

  10. DriverDude says:

    Raymond, you really should name names – so we can redirect our snarky comments at Vendor Nameless rather than Vista.

  11. Jim says:

    Back to original story, it’s hard to reconcile the vision of management and the reality. The situation forces people to add those useless features. Update keep us in the job and we are continuing garbage in and garbage out.

  12. Ulric says:

    Seen it. Caused by lack of product management decision, and the developers running loose on their pet projects, as they are left on their own.

    After a few months or even a year of procrastination, in panic, the company needs to begin to cut down all the runaway projects to ship something stable.

    Now comes the painful part of making this a product someone will want to buy.

  13. score says:

    seen it. paid tons of money for no features at the end of the project. hooray!

  14. Mango says:


    Raymond omitted the name of the feature: WinFS.


  15. Marc says:

    Surely programmers depend in part at least, on the upgrade cycle.

  16. Mark Sowul says:

    Re: snarkified

    Preemptive clever comment: it’s a perfectly cromulent word.

  17. Cooney says:

    Surely programmers depend in part at least, on the upgrade cycle.

    Sometimes we provide actual value – not everybody gets to strongarm the industry.

  18. Triangle says:

    I hereby give this thread the 100% genuine snark stamp of approval.☼

    ☼ Thread may contain as little as 0.02% snark. See back of package for content information.

  19. Customer says:

    Triangle:  As a discerning customer, I am concerned about my snark content intake.  I would like to know more about the snark in this product.  However, I am unable to find the back of the package.   Please advise.

  20. Timmy Jose says:

    Sounds just like a day in the average "Technology" company where logic, common sense and dedication are words as alien as manners to the average human.

  21. Ultrano says:

    Hahaha, sounds like the opposite of where I work – when we’ve delayed a bit too much, we start adding more features than planned.

  22. Xepol says:

    How do you cut all the features but 1 and still run behind exactly?

    Worse, how do you call it a "next version" with a straight face?

  23. Christian says:

    It would be great if you could include a little bit of details how this process works: How can a real core developer of a MS product group work together with shaby companies (like e.g. large companies which I may not mention here, e.g. bad virus scanners or media players… Or maybe they are not so large companies?) that seem to have really bad programmers and help them out or answer customer questions?

    Are this all just elevated premium MS product support cases?

    [I don’t know how it works. Often I don’t even know the name of the company I’m working with. (I could probably find out just by asking, but I never ask.) It goes through the liaison. -Raymond]
  24. Nick says:

    They obviously need to implement some Speed-Up loops!


  25. Me says:

    That could have easily made the frontpage on thedailywtf.

  26. Triangle says:

    "Worse, how do you call it a "next version" with a straight face?"

    That’s marketings job.

  27. Xepol –

    It could have tons of bug fixes.  I don’t remember what new feature Windows 98 Second Edition had, but I remember it being a nice upgrade in terms of reliability / performance.

    I don’t even know what new features Office 2003 had versus the one before it.  Unless "working better" was a new feature.

  28. USB! says:

    Windows 98 Second Edition = USB drives support

  29. CommenterParamExA says:

    @USB: It also had regressions and MSIE 5 (instead of 4) making it a bit more bloated. I used 1st edition before Win2k SP2 came out, those were the days. Win2k needed more RAM but it performed great, was really stable (compared to win98) and didn’t suffer from the ‘rot’ so I never had to reinstall. I never got IIS to work though, 2003 is a lot better in this area.

  30. ConcernedCustomer says:

    So, essentially they’re pulling a bait-and-switch on their customers.  Claiming some new feature in order to convince their customers to buy the new product, only to not actually deliver that feature in any usable form.

    I wouldn’t want to work for a company like that.

  31. cmov says:

    Will there be another installment of "Psychic Debugging" next week? That’d be terrific! Not that I don’t like this post of course…

    You’re a really professional blogger, if only you were paid professionally :'(

  32. Robbie Mosaic says:

    Now I understand why Knuth version his TeX system by 3.1415926… Because this means a newer version should be more near the perfection, rather than with a new feature.

  33. Bulletmagnet says:

    Re: TeX

    It’s also the perfect excuse for never being finished. I ought to propose this versioning system for all our products :)

  34. kokomo says:

    "We can’t cut that; it’s our last feature"

    Uh oh. Deja vu. I’m sure I’ve heard this before…

  35. CatG says:

    this one should be on DailyWTF…

  36. Marc K says:

    @Brandon Paddock

    AFAIK, Win98SE was an upgrade you couldn’t get.  I remember it only being available to OEMs with no upgrade path for the poor soul that had Win98 first edition.

  37. Stephen Jones says:

    Win 98 SE was a fairly good operating system. Which was presumably why MS made you buy ME instead.

    Win 2K was the real improvement (all we’ve had since then have been service patches of varying degrees of reliability) but there was a lot of hardware it wouldn’t work with.

  38. Yuhong Bao says:

    "Which was presumably why MS made you buy ME instead."

    I don’t think so, I in fact don’t fundamentally think that Me is worse than 98.

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