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 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.
From Publishers Weekly
Released in mid-1993, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT software is arguably the best attempt yet at a universal operating system for personal computers, allowing PC users to open a file, move text or graphics, calculate a row of numbers and run several word processors, spreadsheets and other applications at once. With Windows NT (which stands for New Technology), Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates hopes to extend his dominion, with NT serving as the foundation for everything from desktop systems to corporate information networks. Critics, however, observe that the hardware required for NT is expensive and note that a forthcoming Microsoft operating system, Chicago, may eclipse NT. Wall Street Journal reporter Zachary tells how Microsoft wizard David Cutler and his team of programmers, working intensely for five years, overcame technical snafus, thousands of bugs, workplace skirmishes and collapsing personal lives to create Windows NT. This is both an enlightening primer on the management of complexity and a rare behind-the-scenes look at the cutthroat software wars.
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Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.