Microsoft Acquires SysInternals

From the standpoint of someone working at Microsoft and responsible for the Windows SDK, this is incredible news. We are basically acquiring some of the best tools for that space (low-level, hard-core devs) as well as the services of two very talented people in Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell. (I actually had the pleasure of meeting Mark some years ago when I ran CodeGuru and on top of being extremely intelligent he's also a very cool person).

I don't know what this will mean to who the Winternal and Sysinternals tools will ship in the future - as part of the Windows SDK?? - but will post here as soon as I know something that I can share.

Comments (46)
  1. Fantastic!

    From TomArcher:

    From the standpoint of someone working at Microsoft and responsible…

  2. davidacoder says:

    I like the Windows SDK, but I hope that the tools from these guys will NOT be delivered as part of it. Right now they have VERY small downloads without installers needed, which is GREAT. Just the thought of having to install the Windows SDK MSI for the same… Please not 🙂

  3. Tom Archer says:

    davidacoder – Remember when I say "ship with the SDK" that the SDK Tools and Build Environment also ship with Visual Studio.  Therefore, you wouldn’t have to install the SDK separately

    This accomplishes two things:

    * You would get all the SysInternal tools automatically with VS instead of having to download each tool separately from the SysInternals site.

    * It would signicantly widen the user base for the tools as the SDK is released with every version of Windows and every version of Visual Studio.  

  4. davidacoder says:

    Well, just keep it as seperate downloads as well, and I am happy. Big projects like Windows SDK sometimes tend to "suck" other small and very agile things in, and then they have to fit into their release schedule etc. Sometimes that is good, but in this case I think I would not like it.

  5. Tom Archer says:

    davidacoder – One day I’ll write up how this works, but we don’t "suck" up other projects. The tools, samples, headers, libs, etc. are still owned and independently developed by their respective teams and owners. They simply come to us a ship vehicle and ask us to include them in the SDK. If they meet certain quality/security bars and we feel they’re right for the customer, we include them. This has no impact on their own developmetn schedule other than we let them know our release dates so that they can get us what they us to ship in time.

  6. davidacoder says:

    Tom, I don’t mean to say anything bad here about the Windows SDK or to suggest that your team is actually trying to pull in other projects!! Sorry if that was the impression you got, I should have worded this more carefully.

    All I mean to say is: I would not like to see the small tools from Sysinternals to be only available within the huge Windows SDK 🙂 As long as they can quickly be downloaded by themself, all is good!

  7. Jon Payne says:

    I agree with davidacoder: The Platform SDK is great but it is a painful way of distributing tools.  For example, if I want to monitor registry access on a customer site, I can download RegMon and be up and running in 30 seconds.  If I want to look at an MSI file I could download Orca but to do that I would have to search the Microsoft downloads site, probably get past the Genuine Advantage annoyance, download a huge number of files and run an installer that could have other side effects.  Also, the SysInternals tools seem to be updated every few weeks – I don’t think any part of Microsoft is agile enough to ship tools that fast.

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  9. Tom Archer says:

    davidacoder – No worries. I didn’t take it that way at all. I was answering a common misconception that some people have regarding thinking that the SDK team "owns" all the tools. We "own" them from a strategy standpoint in terms of accepting what will ship or not with the SDK, but not from a dev/test point. I thought you were thinking that we would be taking the tools on and that you were worried about our ability to do that and release those tools as quickly as Mark/Bryce did on their own. So no problem – just a misunderstanding.

    Don’t forget that with the SDK, you can now install only parts of it – so you can specify that you only want tools and within that managed vs. native tools. Still not as good as getting a single tool or two off a Web site, but I think us shipping the tools with VS automatically is really the key win here. That gets the tools into hands of millions of devs without them having to do anything.

  10. vcsjones says:

    Just to comment on what davidacoder said, I agree with him. It would be cool if those applications were available in VS and Platform SDKs, but Platform SDKs are a pain to install. I like using FileMon, but I don’t want to install it. Just double click it and it works. Simple. If it were in the SDK, then I would have to download hundreds of megabytes of stuff — that I don’t want — to use one program. Then install it, which takes more time. And I don’t want to run an installer when the thing I wanted doesn’t require anything. It doesn’t need other files setup, it just works right out of the box.

  11. vcsjones says:

    Maybe they could be deployed as "Power Toys" as a seperate download…

  12. Some day they should include those tools inside Visual Studio

  13. Ravy says:

    Will the tools still be available at sysinternals websites, I am asking this because its been easy to download and has been a single point contact for a number of tools for the developer community as such but once it gets into the SDK we would have to serach for the tools and all which on the huge microsoft site is a bad turn around on time to just get a tool 🙁

  14. Sam Gentile says:

    Sipping the first cup of coffee, ah yes, there’s a possibility I’ll be awake soon…

    Windows Vista

  15. Hoopskier says:

    Hmm, speaking of SDK tools… any chance of putting gems like ROT Viewer, DocFile Viewer, and DataObject Viewer back in?  These were very handy tools for OLE/COM development (yes, some people DO still develop for OLE), and there is nothing there to replace them.  Good thing I still have my copies from old SDKs.

  16. James Chaldecott says:

    I just want to register another voice of agreement with the previous comments.

    Having all the SysInternals tools (and their later derivatives) ship with VS will be great, but they really do need to be available and installable separately. RegMon, FileMon & DebugView are incredibly useful tools for debugging all sorts of issues on "normal" PCs (i.e. without the dev tools).

    Specifically, I’m thinking of :

    * Friends & Family. I don’t want to have to carry the SDK on a memory stick for all the inevitable support I end up doing for them.

    * Test PCs. Installing the SDK would (in many cases) fix the "which file is it that’s really missing/unregistered?" problem that I’m trying to fix in the first place.

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  18. Sencer Kutlug says:

    I agree with some of the comments here that it would be better to keep these tools as separate downloads. When I am debugging an issue on a tester’s machine, it is very convenient to download the latest version from the website.

    It certainly does not hurt if they ship with VS, but I do not want to maintain a share to be able to get to these tools quickly.

  19. Igor says:

    Hi, Tom Archer

    Simply meke Orca tool available for download without tens megabytes of SDK stuff and you will see: people will not worrie about availability of sysinternals utilities…

  20. Ganesh says:

    Great tools – filemon, regmon etc. These brains with the mighty hands now and that is good for people who develop and debug.

  21. I’m a big fan of Sysinternals. This could be a very good thing. i.e. Orca. or this could be a very bad thing. i.e. SourceSafe going into a 10 year devlopment black hole.

    But then great companies tend to come and go without Microsofts help as well.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  22. WorriedSysInternalsFan says:

    I *love* SysInternals utilities. I agree they should also be available separately. I love just dumping the executables into a directory on a machine and not having to do anything else. These are not developer-specific tools. They are utilities which should ship with Windows itself, IMO. Please please please do not force us to run the VS or SDK installers. You will be upsetting many people.

  23. Hawky says:

    Most of their great tools need to be incorporated into the base Windows install.  Windows desperately needs tools to accurately, easily and clearly monitor processes, handles, TCP, etc.  How many times have you tried to stop a process with Task Manager only to resort to sysinternals tools to do the job properly?  Can’t delete a file because some process still has it locked?  Try resolving this with Windows… off to sysinternals again…

  24. Frederic says:

    I guess we all agree – they are great tools and they need to stay available on their own.

    The real issue is the concept of installers which is a made up concept to solve the "source of all eavil" which is the existence of a registry in windows. Since VStudio has a lot of com left in it it needs an installer.

    But since there is now an agreement in the developer community that this was a bad thing – the future does not need to have installers again. All software should be installable via XCopy. Drop the software on a PC and voila…

    Any windows menuing issue needs to be handled by the OS and not an installer – if an new exe file is created windows could ask where to enter a menu for it (or not).

    One day maybe all softwares will work like this – but until then – please leave the SysInternal tools as they are today. If they are included in studio (or even better the OS itself) – then fine – so long as they are available on their own.

  25. SysInternals utilities should be part of Windows AccessoriesSystem Tools and should be available as SDK.

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  27. brainhooked says:

    I agree with davidacoder and James Chaldecott. These tools are known and trusted by IT admins and they allow their install (they have them locally sometimes) and provide an essential support tool sometimes. Having them go through an install is seen as a problem.

    At least they could be kept in a separate package like for example "Debugging Tools, WinDBG"

  28. Garth says:

    I like Sysinternals stuff but has anyone heard of Jetico products?

    I really like their virtual (encrypted) drives and security utilities but as it stands, NTFS is just not good enough since it doesn’t support Read Only Mode and it corrupts System restore information if there’s a virus onboard.

    Can anyone talk to those people?


  29. Tom Archer is only saying that Sysinternals tools will be  shipped with VS but not ONLY WITH VS! So no problem…


  30. MJT says:

    Installers are small beer in all this I suspect.  The reality is that the buy-out is the end of another free force in the market.  

    If I remember correctly, Mr R was ‘persona non grata’ in MS Towers a few years ago, after his NFTS reader farce, when MS marketeers tried mislead people about what represented ‘secure’.  These guys boldly went where most of us could have done if we only got off our arse, but they did stuff that the powers in MS were clearly opposed to.  They did what they could see was possible and what was useful, not what the powers wanted them to do.

    And a very nice job they did too.  I will gladly buy these guys drinks all night in honour of the number of times their tools had made be look like a genuis psychic.

    So now Mr R and Mr C are doubtless richer (and who can blame them for that), but presumably will be subjects of the corporate machine.  It’s not like MS have never had the brains and resources to develop tools like regmon, filemon and procexp, its just they some how manage to not to.  For example, I seem to remember a GUI tool very much like procexp in 16-bit windows but somehow it never got translated to a sensible 32-bit equivalent.  

    May be Tom can explain why SysInternals achieved so much, but I’d guess its less about individual genius and more about being out in the field, unfettered by marketeers and product managers, corporate priorities, religious wars, and career structures.  

    Sysinternal RIP.  I’ll miss you.

  31. Jeff Schultz says:

    One thing that worries me about this is will they be taking the software written by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell out of the open-source community? And will they still maintain Sysinternals?

  32. David Bradford says:

    These guys (Mark and Bryce, as well as David Solomon) and their tools have been some of the most helpful to me as a Windows developer over the years. David and Mark’s work: "Inside Windows 2000" is imensely helpful. How soon can we expect something at this level of depth about Vista?

  33. Vishnoo Rath says:

    The tools from – first heard about from MS Tech Support in 2000 – have over the years helped me crack many a difficult case. I have been infact preaching to the developers in the company I work for, to actively use these tools to debug or get an insight into what happens behind the scenes.

    However, knowing MS, I am going to download all the source code off the site ASAP before they restrict the same.

    As they say, Good Men die early and Good Companies MSed!

    Psst: MS gives me my Bread & Butter – so no hard feelings here.

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  35. Tom, the SysInternals tools are not only interesting for developers but also for end users. If I look at the process explorer I could see it as an integral part of Windows Vista. Don’t get me wrong – I like the layered aproach of XP and Vista’s system administration but as the process explorer is accepted worldwide and used instead of the XP task manager.

    So maybe you should think of splitting the SysInternals tools and ship only the very specific ones with the SDK and the generally intersting ones with Vista.

  36. Additionally, I would like to say that a parallel distribution via web (on a Microsoft site, and/or SysInternals site with the apropriate branding) and the Vista DVD shouldn’t be a problem, not for the business nor for the users.

  37. Doug says:

    Just another situation where "Big Brother" Gates will take an open source idea and start charging for it. Including these programs into the professional version of a future windows OS is the same. They will modify them and call them their own or get rid of them all together.

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