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How many people does it take to turn off a Vista PC?

"Let's see: three separate teams each of eight programmers and testers and designers and a manager, plus six layers of managers for each team, plus an übermanager for them all - that's 43. The number comes from Moishe Lettvin, who spent his "worst" year out of seven at Microsoft working on a feature for Vista which he says "should've been designed, implemented and tested in a week".

The feature? The menu that Vista users choose from when they've finished working. What you'll get on a laptop is a choice of "off" or lock; plus an advanced menu offering (deep breath) switch user, log off, lock, restart, sleep, hibernate and shut down.

Plus, as the developer Joel Spolsky points out, the options of pressing the physical power button, or (on a laptop) just closing the lid. Spolsky reckons Vista offers 15 different ways to shut down a laptop. (Sure, you might not see the advanced menu. But which, of shut down, sleep, hibernate, log off or switch user, is the simple "off"?) Spolsky suggests that the dithering implied by having so many confusingly similar and utterly different choices every time you're done with a session "produces just a little bit of unhappiness every time".

What are the comparisons? On Apple's OS X, which Lettvin's team used "as a paragon of clean UI [user interface design]", there are four options presented on pressing the power button: restart, sleep, cancel (ie oops! wrong button), shut down. How many people did that take? It's a mystery lost in time, as the "choice of four" has existed since at least 1997. Linux distributions have an uncountable team; the Gnome distribution offers just "suspend" and "hibernate". On the iPod, there is no on/off button - a design choice made, yes, by Steve Jobs. (Instead, it turns itself off once paused for a set length of time.)

Now - 43 people? Isn't that a lot? Yes: three teams (Lettvin's "mobile" team, the "shell" team, and "kernel" team) of eight each, plus 16 managers, plus their manager. But, says Lettvin, the worst thing was that "of those 24 there were exactly zero with final say in how the feature worked. Somewhere in those other 17 was somebody who did have final say but who that was I have no idea since when I left the team - after a year - there was still no decision about exactly how this feature would work."

He concludes: "The end result of all this is what finally shipped: the lowest common denominator, the simplest and least controversial option. I have no idea how much of the rest of Vista ended up like this. I think (indeed hope) my team was a pathological case; unfortunately it's a visible one." "

Fonte: The Guardian

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