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What a Shame

Week of December 11, 2005

It's Xmas time again, and that means more than decorating the tree. Since before the Millennium we've been coming out with a new Extreme Power Tools around the end of every year, sometimes more often.

It actually all started long before the Millennium. After the release of what was called 'Rix97' (aptly in 1997) and watching the growing hype about the Millennium, we decided to trek in the opposite direction: we would not load our applications to the hilt with doodads but would focus on improving existing code.

We even came out and made a statement to that effect. It was evidently well received. The XPT edition for the New Millennium was titled 'Rix2K', but that was back in the end of the 1990s and not the edition that came out for the year 2000.

Once we'd finalised the 2000 edition we decided to release again halfway through the year and came out with 'AWSA' - a tongue in cheek jab for 'Are We Still Around' about the controversies about hypothermia and meltdowns that were expected to occur (and could have in theory).

2001 saw a new edition, and halfway through that year we released 2001b. And then 2002. And 2003. And 2004. And last year 2005. All came in on time and several were ready ahead of time. [Want some pointers, Redmond? Too bad.]

Since 2002 the architecture in use today has been unchanged. There are small things we could have done to tweak it all further, but there was no point. Compatibility's a good thing if imbibed in moderation, and this was extremely moderate imbibing: we are talking here of 8 bytes object code in a single support DLL.

We were strongly against Windows 2000 and told people so, and some people listened and many others did not. We came out with the X-file System after one year and ten months work, passed prototypes around at RISKS, then John Lettice wrote about it - we were very aware that in its naked original condition Win2K really sucked.

Then the Love Bug hit and suddenly the world understood what it meant to cling to the skirt hems of Microsoft. The world was wide open and the duck shoot had begun.

Since then things have successively gotten worse. Only worse. Today Windows is an object of ridicule and little else. No one in their right mind would connect to the Internet on a Windows box. It's stupid - downright stupid.

People migrated. To SuSE, to Red Hat, to Debian, to Mandrake - and to OS X. OS X started picking up after a while, and the NeXTSTEP platform offered all the perks never found on Windows. Suddenly here was something one could work with.

One hundred forty six programs. Thereof twenty three frugal screen savers. Most run on LCD today, so it's largely moot. The remaining one hundred twenty five or so are Win32 applications. And considering the kind of software coming out for MS Windows, completely unique.

The average size of an executable is 7.19 kilobytes. That's not 'MB' - it's 'KB'. And most of those apps blow the competition away when it comes to features, and all of them blow the competition away when it comes to industrial strength. There's not been a single bug or vulnerability found in all that code in years.

That's pretty good.

For the past five years we've come out with a new Xmas stocking every year. But there's no point in going on like that. We can rebuild the entire tree and give it a new moniker, but so what? It's the same old stuff, no worse but certainly not at all better than before. It only has a new name, and what did the Capulets say about that?

The beginning of the New Millennium was exciting for a while. First there was the hype about document shredding, then there was good old Evidence-Eliminator, the big scum of the Internet all time. But all that depends on people using the platform.

We don't use Windows anymore. We'd be fools to. And so would you. It was fun while it lasted, but on the Internet it's just moronic.

Still, looking at the perhaps last packaging of the XPT ever, one can't help but thinking to oneself, 'what a shame'. For it was good software, and we all had fun for the few years before the Web took over and rained on the party.

No, Windows really sucks, it is not good, it's ramshackle, it's mishmash hodgepodge code of the worst sort. It's some of the sloppiest code ever written. The crimes we have seen Redmond commit in the field of programming are endless. Microsoft have an uncanny knack of ruining everything they come into contact with, and it isn't their politics, it's their totally shitty coding. It's horrible. Abysmal.

So here you have all these cool and groovy programs and they only work on 'that platform' and many of them are only possible because the platform has no security to speak of. It's good stuff, the XPT, but what good is it when it runs on Windows?

What a shame.

Happy Holidays.

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