Show-stopper!

Show stopper Showstopper is a vivid account of the creation of Microsoft Windows NT perhaps the most complex software project ever undertaken It is also a portrait of David Cutler NT s brilliant and at times b

  • Title: Show-stopper!
  • Author: G. Pascal Zachary
  • ISBN: 9780316911139
  • Page: 144
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Showstopper is a vivid account of the creation of Microsoft Windows NT, perhaps the most complex software project ever undertaken It is also a portrait of David Cutler, NT s brilliant and, at times, brutally aggressive chief architect Cutler surely ranks as one of the most impressive software engineers the field has ever produced After leading the team that created theShowstopper is a vivid account of the creation of Microsoft Windows NT, perhaps the most complex software project ever undertaken It is also a portrait of David Cutler, NT s brilliant and, at times, brutally aggressive chief architect Cutler surely ranks as one of the most impressive software engineers the field has ever produced After leading the team that created the VMS operating system for Digital s VAX computer line an accomplishment that most would regard as a lifetime achievement he went on to conceive and lead the grueling multi year project that ultimately produced Windows NT Both admired and feared by his team, Cutler would let nothing stand in the way of realizing his design and often clashed with his programmers, senior Microsoft management, and even Gates himself Yet no matter how involved he became in managing his 100 programmer team, he continued to immerse himself in every technical detail of the project and write critical portions of the code himself Showstopper is also a fascinating look at programmer and managerial culture behind the Microsoft facade The portraits of the men and women who created NT not only reveal the brilliance of their work but the crushing stress and the dislocating effects that new wealth had on their lives For some team members, the NT project ultimately destroyed their marriages, friendships, and virtually every human relationship outside of work Showstopper also reveals the uncertainties, false starts, and blind alleys that dogged the project as Microsoft repositioned NT from an improved OS 2 to something that would ultimately challenge both OS 2 and Unix for the title of the world s most powerful operating system.

    One thought on “Show-stopper!”

    1. This was terrific. As project leader Dave Cutler says at one point, the creation of Windows NT may be the last time anyone ever assembles a team to build a completely new computer operating system, and this book gives a good account of the personalities, the stresses, and the working environment involved in making it happen.I was particularly interested to read about the experiences of the women on the NT team, working for a bawling, testosterone-fuelled boss in offices full of computers with sc [...]

    2. Stunning, absolutely stunning insight into how large scale, extremely complex technical projects are carried out. If you are a programmer, or in any field that requires managing mind-numbing complexity, I think this book is a great read, or should I say, a must-read - regardless of what you feel about Microsoft.And it isn't a dry technical read either. It's an extremely entertaining book. I was able to finish it in half a day. It reads like a novel by some gifted writer. The characters are some [...]

    3. After I read this, I wanted to become a hardass and kick holes in walls whenever people checked in buggy code. However, I'm not Dave Cutler so I couldn't get away with it. This book is interesting on many levels, from Cutler to the people who worked with/put up with him to accomplish some pretty amazing things. Definitely worth reading if you're into the whole "software team does death march to ship product" genre.

    4. Similar to "Soul of a New Machine" - I'd read these back to back, and recommend them to someone outside of the technology industry as a great primer for the insanity that is modern tech work.

    5. Fantastic description of the creation of Windows NT and the people and personalities involved.Very much invokes the Soul of a New Machine vibe.

    6. Great read about the history of developing Windows NT. Clearly written, and entertaining stories, that bring back many memories.

    7. Pretty interesting book with a lot of great history about the goings on at Microsoft during the late 80s and early 90s.Though the content of the book is really solid, I found it a bit difficult to get through, new characters are constantly introduced and it was a bit hard to keep track of some of the names which made it difficult as I read the book over a couple of weeks rather than in one slog. The same approach applied to the actual structure, it felt like it jumped around a fair bit and lacke [...]

    8. I read this after seeing it recommended on the dadhacker blog. Overall, I found the book much more intriguing than I thought I would, and yet I was simultaneously frustrated by it.The book starts off as a dual biography of David Cutler and Windows NT. The first chapters are pretty focused, and really delve into Cutler the man, and the genesis of Windows NT. I was especially intrigued because Cutler at the time that NT was being developed was in his mid-forties; definitely not a "cool" age for pe [...]

    9. It's easy to take the ubiquitous Windows for granted but someone had to make it. Doing so represented one of the largest and most complex engineering efforts ever. This book chronicles the creation of modern Windows, a nightmare of overtime and ballooning bureaucracy. Said chronicle was repetitive and thus boring, but there were a few bright spots.I had complicated feelings about Dave Cutler, the project's leader. I found myself admiring him, thinking 'this guy does not accept compromises or ine [...]

    10. Really interesting look into the life of early Microsoft. Great to hear the stories of all who were involved in NT and all the drama around it.

    11. This might rate 4 stars for some, or maybe in 1994 it would have rated higher. The author did drink the MS kool-aid. His perspective on characters was somewhat from the point of view of worship. There were several spots in the book which had reproduced repetitive text which lent his intent to impress the reader with some aspect of character or difficulty, though those characteristics or circumstance may be normal to software practitioners. The viewpoint of the book was to regard the release of a [...]

    12. What does it take to make great software? A focus on quality boarding on obsession, brilliance, long hours, personal sacrifice, and a leaving of that intangible called leadership. Showstopper stands besides The Mythical Man Month and The Soul of a New Machine in it's depiction of programming and technology around the creation of The Last Great OS.Lead Engineer David Cutler and his team had a ambitious job, to make the first 'platform-independent operating system', a piece of software which would [...]

    13. As a folkloristic book, it does a poor job of telling the aspects of the story that would actually be interesting. It digresses into irrelevant biographies all over the place, which convey little more than rap sheet facts. It doesn't have a conception of what is interesting about technology. The writer is clearly very thin on the subject, presenting analogies about the functions of software in strangely distant and awkward terms. He thinks he's throwing in a little secret sauce by posting occasi [...]

    14. A glimpse of the monumental work that is the creation of an OS. It's also full of valuable insights, like how microsoft could stay ahead of its competition for so long, or how good software managers are usually also good developers, and how you shouldn't neglect your life because of work, not matter how much it pays.Worth the read.

    15. Excellent story on how a revolutionary operating system was developed and delivered. This tells all the hurdles and sacrifice that the team that developed Windows NT went through. David Cutler was the leader of the team that brought about the revolutionary changes that resulted from the innovation of NT. As a side note, the story includes a look back into the early 90's PC industry. It was fun to note that it was considered extraordinary that NT required 16 Megabytes of RAM. In today's terms thi [...]

    16. The story of the creation of Microsoft Windows NT with few technical details, but much about the key people's personalities and personal lives. Steve Ballmer had to force David Cutler to make NT compatible with DOS and Windows applications; Cutler once shouted that he didn't want to "pollute [NT] with crap". NT was originally developed for the Intel i860, which was an early Itanium-like processor; only later was it ported to the 80386. By version 4-5 NT ended up much like Unix and OS/2: a monoli [...]

    17. Show Stopper! Is a book about the development of Windows NT. It's based on interviews with the people that were involved in the project.It gives great insights into the different cultures witin Microsoft, especially the charismatic David Cutler, who led the project.A Show Stopper is a bug, ie. error in a software program, that will stop the project, the list of show stoppers in Windows NT was amazing, and the human cost in the wake of the project was enomous, due to the impossible deadlines.Wind [...]

    18. Meanders (a little too) placidly through the turbulent waters of software creation, individual personalities, team dynamics and the inevitable architectural trade offs that are hallmark of all complex software. Characters are well researched and brought to life through avid research into not just who they were at the time but also how they came about to be so. Having been in the software industry for a while myself, I can attest to much of the documented madness - literally living in office for [...]

    19. I picked up the book Show Stopper!: The Breakneck Race To Create Windows NT And The Next Generation At Microsoft in the library after listening to it being mentioned by Joel Spolsky on the StackOverflow podcast #48. I wasn't really intending to read it, but after racing through the exciting opening of the book there was no way I was going to let it go. Written by Pascal Zachary, this is a book that tells the story of the creation of Windows NT. More than the software, it's the story of the peopl [...]

    20. During my reading of this book, I woke up one morning, checked my work email, and found a message from one of the characters in this book. S. Somasegar was a lead tester for Windows NT, and now is a Co-Chair for Microsoft's Give campaign.That's basically what I wanted to get out of it - understanding some of Microsoft's lore and the people who built it, and it delivered there. It was written well for a non-technical person although some analogies were pretty forced. And the narrative that turns [...]

    21. Interesting - if you're into the backstories of modern operating systems. Not very well written. The book just can't find a comfortable place between giving meaningful and detailed explanations of parts of the story and tediously condescending and unhelpful explanations by analogy. There's not a lot of "lessons" to take out of the story either (if you were picking this up hoping to apply something in your day to day work).But interesting all the same. I was glad I read it.

    22. Dave Cutler is a dick that's the biggest thing I learned in this book. Also very illuminating how something as important as a system kernel is not as complicated as my blind intuition suggests. Having worked with the win32 api many years ago I see the kernels of why it's so unnecessarily complicated. Regardless, enjoyable and reasonably well paced.

    23. An interesting look into how Windows NT came into being and the characters involved. The author assumes the reader isn't particularly technical so this is more about the people and how they worked together (or at times didn't!) Probably only of interest to those with a specific yearning for learning about computing history though team leaders and managers could find it worth a look

    24. Jeff Atwood of CodingHorror fame (creator of StackOverflow and Discourse) recommended this book: blogdinghorror/showstoSo, adding it to my "to-read" bookshelf on ! I will update this review when I finish reading this book.

    25. This cast of unpleasant, hypercompetitive, aggressive, unfeeling sociopaths working at BigCorp goes a long way to explaining why Windows NT (later XP) is the way it is. The contrast with the idealistic soi disant "revolutionaries" at Apple (best told in Folklore) is huge.

    26. If you have even vague interest in IT or how huge problems are solved in big companies, I think this is a great read. Some of the time the explanations of things are a bit dated but in general it's still pretty relevant to how we ended up the computers we have today.

    27. Really interesting look into the life of early Microsoft. Great to hear the stories of all who were involved in NT and all the drama around it. The technical parts are dumbed down with focus on the characters and their lives. This is the real life version of Microserfs.

    28. A very good description of how Microsoft developed Windows NT, one of the last large operating systems built from the ground up. The book tells the story from the developers and testers viewpoint, very reminiscent of Tracy Kidder's excellent book "Soul of a New Machine"

    29. An important work of Microsoft history. What did we get from IBM? What did we reject? Is the focus on Windows easier to understand after reading this? Oh yes, it is.

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