The ship date predictor: Redux

Last year, I shared the ship date predictor. My colleague who created the chart contacted me last year and told me what happened when he tried to apply the ship date predictor to subsequent projects.

He discovered that "the rules for Windows 95 didn't carry over, so my nomination for the Nobel Prize in Project Management was withdrawn." He did find, interestingly, that each management team had its own consistent scheduling errors, so the chart was useful only in retrospect, revealing each management team's individual error ratio.

My colleague continued tracking the data until the late 2000's, at which time scheduling became more accurate and the exercise became uninteresting.

Happy 21st birthday, Windows 95.

Bonus chatter: My colleague also looked up the career of the person who wrote "Otherwise, I'll be applying for a job at McDonalds." According to LinkedIn, that person left Microsoft in 2000 and now works at another major technology company. (Not McDonalds.)

Comments (17)
  1. Ray Koopa says:

    I would’ve worried if McDonalds would be a major technology company. I mean, they’re not even selling apples.

    1. jake says:

      on the contrary, they sell more apples than most major pc manufacturers:

    2. Brian_EE says:

      McDonald’s foray into technology – kiddie “fitbit” bands that burns children’s wrists.

    3. Brian says:

      I expect that McDonald’s has a very large engineering department. They spend a lot of money on logistics and industrial engineering. Consider all the planning that probably went into rolling out all day breakfast (re-jigging kitchens and kitchen processes, figuring out how to store the food, getting the supplies to the stores, etc.) Like airlines, retailers and Uber, someone like McDonald’s spends *a lot* of money on technology.

      1. French Guy says:

        I assume Ray Koopa and Brian_EE were talking about producing technology rather than using it.

    4. Richard says:

      Actually, they’ve been selling apple slices for some time.

  2. Glassware says:

    Congrats Raymond! It’s hard to remember now how exciting Windows 95 was, especially for people like myself whose first taste of Windows had been “Ami Pro with Windows/286”.

    Truly a marvel of engineering to be done in the days before standardized unit tests, standardized version control, standardized continuous integration… but I suspect this type of work helped pioneer it. The state of the art with CVS was pretty bad back then.

  3. Ben says:

    So Windows 95 can buy a drink today!

    1. Pete says:

      It’s been doing that for 3 years already here in the UK ;-)

  4. Yuhong Bao says:

    As a side note, I wonder why Windows 3.0 was not delayed by like 3 months to fix DOS 5.0 problems.

    1. What problems were these?

      1. Yuhong Bao says:

        Not only WINA20.386, but also things like UMB.

    2. cheong00 says:

      On the contrary, I remember that Win3.1 did ship with another version of EMM386.EXE, that they told you to use it instead of the one shipped with DOS in order to load Windows. I don’t know what was fixed in there, or whether if it was a new version.

  5. 12BitSlab says:

    Raymond, congrats on the 21st birthday of Win95! I am still amazed at the work that went it that allowed it to be functional in such a small memory space. Add in the fact that it was great on backwards compatibility, and it is easy to see why it was such a winner in the marketplace.

  6. PaulH says:

    What happened in 2000 to make scheduling more accurate?

  7. Chris Chilvers says:

    It looks like your colleague discovered the principle behind agile methods using story points instead of time estimates. At the end of a sprint you retrospectively look at how long each task really took compared to its point value. This tends to be fairly consistent and can then be used to make future predictions, much like how each team had a reasonably consistent error ratio.

  8. smf says:

    21 years, wow.. I feel so old.

    Someone asked the question on the old predictor thread, but it wasn’t answered. If RTM had happened in 1993 or 1994, then what would it have been called?

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