One of my program managers, Gabe Newell–now the head of the successful game company Valve–would pound on [prerelease Windows 1.0] until late into the night and morning hours and then sleep in his office.
It could have ended there.
I watched, as the gaunt form of Trower teetered on the precipice, the moment a microcosm of human fate.
"Destroy it! Destroy it now before it consumes the world!"
But Trower was already lost in the OS, deaf to my pleas.
"For all that is good and free in this world, end it, that it may never trouble the eyes of men again!" My voice cracked with desperation, for I knew even then that I was too late.
"No." Trower said, as he turned from the fires that would have consumed the OS, the same fires that would henceforth burn in his sunken eyes until it had consumed him wholly.
"No, I will ship this OS. We will use it, we can harness it for the good of all."
I have ever since cursed the weakness of man, the weakness that let loose Windows onto this darkened, once fertile land.
You know what's awesome? Most of the apps bundled with Windows 1.01 still run on my copy of Windows 7. Just for fun, I just fired up MS-DOS Executive. it's weird seeing that 1985 copyright date on a Windows application.
This made me think that perhaps the offer to me was a ploy by Gates and Ballmer to fire me because of their disappointment in dealing with Turbo Pascal and my suggestion that perhaps my assignment to managing programming languages was a poor choice on their part. It seemed clever: give me a task that no one else had succeeded with, let me fail as well, and they would have not only a scapegoat, but easy grounds to terminate me. So, I confronted Gates and Ballmer about my theory. After their somewhat raucous laughter they regained their composure and assured me that the offer was sincere and that they had confidence in my potential success.
Windows 1.0 had a hell of an ad campaign to make up for its delayed release.
I steadfastly believe that this level of backwards compatibility is one of the biggest things that keep MS from releasing a really nice, modern OS.
I've thought about this - I started off agreeing with the statement about Windows needing to get "modern", but then I realized that what I was really wishing for was for Windows to be based on Unix like, well, everything else we have. That's got nothing to do with modernity, though, it's just a preference.
It's ironic, for example, that my desire for Windows to throw out the backwards compatibility and get "modern" was driven by the desire for "head" and "tail" commands at the Command Prompt.
BeOS' fast, pervasively multithreaded microkernel architecture with major chunks of code getting pushed into userspace comes to mind, but now that I mention it I realize BeOS is actually ancient
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