Microsoft Wrong on War and Software

Microsoft’s eye on open source,” by Eileen Yu, CNET, 20 July 2005, (from Slashdot).

I have been discussing 5th Generation Warfare, a type of struggle very similar to waterfall development. In 5GW, programs / war are planned, analyzed, and designed in secret and then unleashed all ready to go. By contrast, 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) is like prototype development: programs / wars are released in “beta,” it takes many years to get it right, everyone knows about it.

The same knowledge that we learned from development software can be used in creating wars. Programs created through waterfall development are brittle — if a requirement was not known ahead of time, it is extremely difficult to add it later. In software, the most famous example of this is the hapless development of OS / 360, chronicled in The Mythical Man Month.

Because of the 360 debacle, and similar problems with the first version of Microsoft Word for Windows, most companies now use prototyping. Prototyping – or “4th Generation Software Development” — is extremely flexible. While the program will not be perfect right away, it will get “out the door” fast. Major Open Source (Linux, OpenOffice, &c) and Microsoft (Windows, Office, &c) programs use prototyping because of its flexibility.

Which is why Microsoft’s latest “pot calling the kettle white” is so bizarre


You can build it, design it, and it will work great. The trouble begins when you want to add things to it, add some services and things like that. Because of the brittle nature of the [open source] platform, when you do that, other things break. We see that in the labs all the time, and our customers see that as well. So that has a (total) cost of ownership impact on it.


This would be like an angry 1960s statement by North Korea calling Mao a “capitalist.” It makes no sense. And it shows once again by Microsoft has almost no credibility in the software development community.

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