Bill Joy was recently interviewed by Fortune magazine, from which I steal this quote:
“The problem with Windows isn’t so much that it’s insecure, but that it is stale. The company has flailed away, making changes mainly to protect its monopoly. So lately, instead of getting better with each new release, Windows is just getting different.
Also, Windows isn’t well architected. There’s a simple way to find out if an operating system has been well designed. When you get an error message, go to the help system and look up the exact words in that message to see if there was enough of a concept of an architecture that they have a consistent vocabulary to talk about what’s broken.
All you have to do is try it on a Mac and on a PC to see the difference. Apple took the time to come up with a concise vocabulary, but in Windows the designers of the help system used different terminology from the programmers. That reflects a lack of design discipline, which means that as the system grows, so does the ambiguity of the software itself. The result is a system encrusted with multiple layers of things that weren’t really designed in so much as bolted on. Plus there are inessential artifacts of DOS from 20 years ago that still peek through and make trouble.
Now Microsoft’s working on a new version of Windows called Longhorn. But there are so many people working on it that it can’t be conceptually simple. Bill Gates is a very smart person and is very dedicated, but you can’t change the fact that it is human nature for people to carve up a problem and try to own things, for the complexity to accrete in corners, and for the vocabulary of the project not to make it all the way across.”
Microsoft is so massive and Windows is developed by so many, it is no surprise it is such a mess.