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on September 29, 2013
I've been quite involved in development of open source software (and still am, in my free time) before I got hired by a company who does its development in a traditional way, behind closed door. If you're a software developer you certainly know that there are very valuable cultural foundations behind many software development communities. Funny or entertaining things happens, things break in sophisticated manners, jokes are told, experience is gained.

In open source development much of this happens in public, to amusement of many. When developing behind closed doors, funny anecdotes from development are very limited to the people actually participating in development or lost. What a pity!

Raymond Chen decided to share much of his experience with Windows NT development with the outside word and created an MSDN blog with funny anecdotes from life of their development community. The book is a printed version of many of articles, anecdotes, funny notes, and horror stories from his blog. There's probably not many people who could do as good job as he did given his years of experience in the field. For me (largely involved in development in Linux environment) the book is was very entertaining reading from a development community previously unknown to me. I can definitely recommend it to any programmer.
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on August 25, 2012
As a long-time reader of Raymond Chen's blog, The Old New Thing, I was quite excited to see that he had put out a book. After reading it, I'm pleased to say that Chen's acerbic style shines through in this book as well.

This book is an excellent tour through the history of Windows development. It does a good job explaining why parts of Windows are as quirky as they are, and what limitations and design decisions led to them being that way.

The book's style varies from chapter to chapter. Some chapters are collections of short essays and observations, similar in length and style to Old New Thing blog posts. (Some, in fact, are expanded versions of topics already posted on the blog.) Other chapters are more in-depth looks at a single topic - for example, there is a whole chapter dedicated to the workings of the Windows dialog manager. Many topics in this book would be of interest to a non-technical audience, while others are only of interest to Windows programmers. (There's a table in the introduction that does a good job identifying what audiences would like each chapter.)

All in all, if you're a fan of The Old New Thing, this is a no-brainer. If you'd like to see some of the history of Windows, and how design decisions made back when 640K was enough for everyone continue to affect Windows now, then give this a read. Or, if you'd just like to marvel at the number of ways people have screwed up writing Windows programs, and the Herculean efforts of Microsoft engineers to keep their broken code running - pick this book up today.
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on December 10, 2016
I recommend this to anyone who's interested in computers because it highlights some of the least visible things that major software developers face. If you ever wondered why Windows does something illogical, chances are Raymond Chen has an explanation why that is. If not, the very least you can find so many things that the Microsoft development team had to put up with to appease their customers that for me imparted a better appreciation for what them and other OS developers have to deal with.
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on July 18, 2011
This book is a delight to read and it was my second time reading it (the first was during jury duty back in February 2007). Some chapters get pretty deep in programming, so I just skimmed over those. Mostly focuses on the Windows 95 and 3.1 era with a little 2000 and XP thrown in. Basically, this is the book form of Chen's blog "The Old New Thing" with more stories and more details.

One thing that is kind of annoying is the downloadable bonus chapters. The author gives a link to download bonus chapters in the preface. This link goes to informit.com with another link to safari.com. Even after registering the ISBN number on informit.com, it would link me into safari.com and safari.com won't let me look at bonus chapters unless I sign up for a 10 day trial. Of course, they want a credit card number. Why? I already bought the book, so I cancelled out the trial setup and did a little Google searching and found the bonus chapters in PDF format over at the Pearson site.

I went to Chen's blog to contact him about this, but there's no e-mail address in site and no comment box to leave a message. On the blog postings where he mentions the bonus chapters, I was going to leave a comment, but the comments are now closed (too much time has passed I guess). Why can't he post these bonus chapters on his web site? The second chapter is just a reprint of something he wrote in the MS-DOS days. I don't get it!
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on October 8, 2016
Fun, technical and very insightful on how serious, highly professional, and big-scale software development is in reality. Maximum respect to the Microsoft engineers that crafted Windows in the last 25+ years.
Note that this is not an essay, it's quite leaned to C / C++ Windows programmers; however , all IT people could learn a lot from this book.
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on May 31, 2015
One of my favourite books. Raymond Chen writes one of the most well known Windows development blogs and has a very engaging writing style. The book collects many of the best stories from his blog and expands on them offering unique insight into the history behind the development and architecture of Windows.
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on August 28, 2015
I like this book. Even all these years later the ideas I've read from this book so far are relevant. The story, process, and reasons behind how windows works is important and highly relevant today even if, like me, you're but a feeble full stack developer
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on September 22, 2015
As a windows programmer, I loved reading all of his essays and going back to see the design philosophy or the psudo code for a bunch of the windows functions. Fantastic read.

Warning: It gets fairly technical the farther you get.
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on June 29, 2013
The book is the history behind the design of Windows in various aspects, from user interface (Why is shut down on the Start menu) to API (Why does the GetWindowText function behave so strangely). If you write and breath Windows programming, this book will be interesting historical read, but not for general programmers.
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on April 21, 2009
Raymond has as good an insight as anyone (well, ALMOST anyone) into the history of Windows and the reasoning behind why things are the way they are. This is a fascinating read not just for programmers but for anyone interested in the difficulties of backwards compatibility, the clever solutions required to work in a multitude of different environments, and just some of the more interesting parts of Windows history.
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