Show-Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

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9780029356715: Show-Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

The phenomenal success of Bill Gates and his Microsoft Corporation hinges, above all, on an ability to look to the future. Not content with holding a bulging share of the market for software applications, nor with dominating the crucial operating systems business by virtue of its DOS and Windows programs, Microsoft is always looking to the future. And the future for Microsoft now goes by the name of "Windows NT." A software innovation of the first order, NT could redefine the standards for computing throughout the world, into the next century. NT endows inexpensive personal computers with the capabilities of giant mainframes - yet without sacrificing the inherent flexibility and appeal of PCs.

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Review:

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 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 gruelling 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.

Show-stopper! 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. Show-stopper! 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.

Review:

Steven Levy author of "Hackers, Artificial Life," and "Insanely Great" G. Pascal Zachary managed to get total access to the formerly unseen programming catacombs of Microsoft and has made the most of it with this riveting look inside one of the world's most fascinating corporations. Great reading for hackers and computer virgins alike.

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