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Showstopper! the Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft Paperback – June 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: e-reads.com (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0759285780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759285781
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,307,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Very well written with a good pace - never a dull page.
FrancoisKorb
The story of the first Windows NT is very much the story of Dave Cutler, who has been its main creator.
Bas Vodde
This book may be almost 20 years old but it is still a riveting read.
mech4bg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D on May 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Reading this book, pretty much in one go, felt like a mix of "Pirates of Silicon Valley" and "Inside Windows". There is enough technical content to prevent this book from being shallow (although the distinction between "code writers" and "testers" is ultimately wrong because testers in MS are not people who aimlessly click around, but write elaborate test suites instead - this is mentioned in the book but is not very clear), but the real value is in the personal angle. Author describes the life of NT project through people's stories about the development of the product - direction changes, added features, bug fixing marathons - and the big personal toll it takes on their lives.
As a former MS employee, many situations feel familiar to me, however, many things are different now. Teams are bigger, stock options are gone and the culture has changed dramatically towards Dilbert-style, however, there are still teams with great leaders who can rally people to deliver great products.
Finally, use of real people's stories and especially their conflicts to describe the process of building complex software is very valuable to anyone who follows MS since many of the young eager people who worked on NT went on to become big shots at MS - from Bob Muglia to Dave Treadwell. Also, this book finally explained to me why Dave Cutler's red jaguar was parked at the spot closest to the entrance of the building.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eric Lawrence on May 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was originally written in 1994 and reissued in 2008 with a new "Afterward" that provides a bit of the story after NT shipped. That new afterward mostly chides Microsoft for coming late to Internet and mobile software without mentioning the fact that Windows NT went on to become the underpinning of all of Microsoft's OS projects with Win2k.

As for the rest of the book, there are shortcomings in both the prose and the production. In terms of the prose-- it's simply hard to sum up a 5 year project in a book of this size, particularly if your goal is to cover the project from the perspective of multiple participants. The book never dives very deep and its characters are mostly reduced to cardboard cutouts who replay their roles chapter after chapter. Having said that, this is one of the very few books about Microsoft that includes significant participation on the part of the actual people involved, so it's worth a read on that front.

In terms of the production-- the 2008 reissue of this book is rife with blatant typos (one or more per page) and formatting problems. My guess is that the original manuscript was lost and the new book was generated by optical character recognition of a printed copy of the original book. For whatever reason, the new printing itself is problematic-- rather than the smooth fonts normally seen on all modern printed pages, the dots making up each of the printed characters is visible, as if this new version were printed on a dot matrix printer from the book's original era. The printing issues are surprisingly distracting.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By stealie on April 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an enjoyable book. The author struck a nice balance regarding the technical details versus general interest. I just wanted to mention the intolerable amount of typos in the Kindle edition. One programmer's name changed from Horne to Home, and back and forth at least a half dozen times in as many pages. Does the print version suffer this badly from typos?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James N Dooley on March 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Showstopper! tells the tale of how a group of engineers at Microsoft worked their tails (and relationships) off to build NT, including even before it was to be Windows NT. Grueling hours were used to fix never-ending bugs and deal with ever-changing scope. This book wants to be a software story equivalent to Tracy Kidder's "Soul of a New Machine" hardware story, but fails due to a lack of technical details, poor organization, and general lack of editing.

While the story is very interesting, the reading experience is marred by what appears to be the lack of even basic editing; as though the author submitted a rough draft to the publisher who printed off copies without even a cursory copy-editing review. Missing quotation marks, missing or extraneous line breaks, printed carriage-return characters, poor print quality, and duplication of material in various chapters make reading the book like hitting a speedbump at 50 miles an hour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Fallon on March 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Essential reading for the geek minded. One of the best books written about Microsoft. Really well written and detailed about how an OS was created from the ground up and given a face called Windows NT.

I was disturbed by the updated authors comments at the end. He seems to have jumped ship and taken sides against MS at the end. Even though MS lost its way for a bit, it is WAY back in the game. A basic reality lost on the authors comments at the end. Pity, and sad, and shows what is really going on in the tech press today, and how the press in general can and will go out of it's way to shape the opinions of people that don't necessarily have good information to go on.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 this isn't very much but back in the 90's, with RAM prices high, it made the computer needed to run NT very expensive. Overall, really enjoyed the walk through time and all the issues that were faced by a team of 250+ people. The way that the development was brought together and the bugs finalized. It is a really good story if you are interested in the history of the computer industry.
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