Microsoft Murders Max

Well, it’s official at any rate. Contrary to what you’ve heard, Windows Vista will not be shipping with any of the original technologies, features, capabilities, or subsystems originally promised (and for those of you that really couldn’t tell: it’s called sarcasm!). First it was the real Aero – complete visual control over one’s system. Amazing graphics, sidebars that were a part of the Windows Core, Aero Diamond. Then it was NGSCB and its amazing security features – not DRM, but total privacy control; your privacy. Monad. Last we heard, it was WinFS, the king-pin feature that was promised to change the way you think of data… And now the last one is gone: Microsoft Max is dead.

Microsoft Max was a “virtual photo albums and distributing them online in a peer-to-peer fashion.” But it was more than just a sharing tool, it, in-keeping with the original Longhorn “tradition” provided a different way of looking at the data stored on your drive. Microsoft Max + WinFS would have been a formidable duo, but alas, it was not to be. For example, “3D Mantle View” (pictured above), treated albums as individual items. It provide a way to visually “stack” these and photos on top and around each other in ways that pertained to the way you actually used them – visualization of information movement.

But its biggest potential was the P2P functionality. No, it wasn’t KazAa, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s not for sharing photos of your family vacation so much as it was for team collaboration, sharing of thoughts and ideas conveyed by means of a simple photo. Oh yeah, that reminds us – Vista’s previously well-developed PC-to-PC collaborative synchronization work protocol was also exorcised a couple of months ago. It seems Microsoft is dedicated to not shipping Vista with anything that might be deemed useful.

Again, just like when WinFS was officially killed, it’s not like we couldn’t see it coming. Microsoft Max hasn’t been touched in almost a year (March 6, 2006 to be exact), and Vista obviously hit Beta 2, RC1, and “RC2” without it – but that doesn’t make it OK though. Yesterday Microsoft came forward and announced a final and “no matter what” RTM date (not RTM build, but actual Release-to-Manufacturer) of November 30th, 2006. Yesterday Microsoft came forward and killed the last remaining member of the Longhorn information-control vision. Coincidence? Probably not.

It doesn’t matter why or how, and it doesn’t matter when the actual decision was made. What does matter is that Microsoft had a killer idea for a media-centric collaboration platform, and they killed it. But this is a bit different from WinFS & Co. Microsoft Max can be built as stand-alone application, and it doesn’t have to be Microsoft that does it. It was a great idea, and Microsoft had first “dibs” so to speak, but that doesn’t mean that the idea has to die along with it.

[download microsoft max

17 thoughts on “Microsoft Murders Max

  1. Fundamental mistake in your reasoning here. Max was just a spare-time project that was intended to illustrate the abilities of the Avalon / WinFX platform. The company essentially agreed to use resources to have a bit of fun and create an interesting project for the community, at the same time providing one of the first ‘real’ applications to use the new technology.

    Max was never a Windows feature, it was a step up from a SDK demo that had a semi-official blessing. A good program, but only an example of whats possible.

  2. I believe “Microsoft Max” was a prototype like you said – but it was intended to ship in some form or the other with Longhorn.

    But that’s not the big deal – the big deal is that WPF just can’t cut it. MS didn’t not ship it because the program wasn’t good enough, but because of the platform. WPF > all… except it isn’t and never will be ready with this release. Max is just a program, nothing to complicated. It derived its features from the WPF platform – and that’s what MS has really cut from Vista.

  3. Max wasn’t ever a Vista application. It was a practical software demonstration of the WinFX platform, and at most, a powertoy.

    And Vista hasn’t lost much. Aero is still there. Sidebar is still there, regardless of how it is implemented. Aero Diamond never existed. Security and DRM is still there (BitLocker + TPM). Monad is in beta. WinFS as a product, gone, but as a concept, exists, Vista’s search is an example.

    Why’s there such a negative vibe when Microsoft peacfully terminates a research and concept project?

  4. I hardly consider “MSN Desktop Search” + Integration = WinFS. That’s nonsense.

    WinFS is a relational filesystem. It’s not a search utility, it’s an add-on to NTFS and the Windows Core that lets you do almost anything to tie data and information together.

    Monad is in beta – but not with Vista, totally separate. The current sidebar is an add-on, it isn’t a part of the core, and doesn’t in any way, shape, or form, compare to the sidebar in 4074 and earlier builds. That was a true taskbar replacement, completely in the Windows Core & API – this is eye-candy and a resource whore. Konfabulator totally owns.

    BitLocker sure as hell isn’t the RSA-encrypted locking system, and TPM doesn’t exist in the Windows Kernel.

    Aero has changed. It’s heavily stripped down: http://www.msblog.org/2006/10/24/a-view-of-longhorn-and-its-awesome-features/

    .NET Orcas isn’t going to be shipping with Vista, and WPF/XAML is bs compared to all the hype and promises that were made.

    Windows Cardspace was renamed so many times that no one knew what MS was talking about when they said it was dropped post-beta 2.

    Let’s face it: Vista is a castrated OS that only brings improvements to existing features, a new theme (not even that new, go take a look at the leaked Royale Noir theme – look familiar?), an awesome new audio stack that no manufacturers yet support, a redone TCP/IP stack that’s supposedly powerful, but buggier than anything else in Vista, and none of what was promised.

    The negative vibe isn’t because MS terminated Max – which I would never have used anyway. The negative vibe is because this close to (or even past?) RTM and Microsoft doesn’t have a product to sell. They have a lot of hype, a lot of false hopes, and too many bugs.

  5. I totally agree. I have not found any feature in Vista that goes beyond what I already have. It’s an OS that wants to be smart (automatic defrag, automatic folder customization, automatic download of new components, automatic self destruction), but misses. It’s just a new Windows ME.

  6. I think the reason for the rage isn’t even just because these features aren’t there, but rather because Microsoft took 6 years to implement these awesome features, then didn’t.

  7. Monad was never supposed to be a part of Vista. There would be no use for it for the average consumer. It was and is meant as a basis for managing software installations and system properties. As far as i it’s still supposed to ship with Exchange 2007 and i think it will be included in Longhorn Server (i might be wrong on that one though).

    WinFS is the only framework/technology really cut from Vista. Others have changed which is certainly understandable because things do over such a long period. The search in Vista is little more than Windows Desktop Search with a nice UI though, but it does it’s job for now.

    That Aero demo was never a part of an official build a.f.a.i.k. Most of the Aero demos were early concepts and were made in Macromedia Director and only presented as tech-demos. Usability studies tend to cut features like that to shreds and certainly did in this case.

    Windows CardSpace is still around and not cut. It’s a part of the .NET Framework 3.0.

    And what do you mean that WPF is castrated. Have you take a look at the New York Times reader? HAve you aven taken a loko at the WPF API? I’m not aware af anything being cut from it’s initial specs.

    What networking stack bugs are you talking about? The ones Symantec were waiving and hollering over but were fixed before Symantec even released their paper on it? Tests from beta testers show the networking stack outperforming XP’s stack by a variable margins (depending on connections and line quality) but i don’t think it came in slower in any case. There was a blog publishing these results a few weeks back, you should be able to google it.

    The audio stack is supported by many many manufacturers. Almost all recent buil-in HD audio codecs (Intel’s Azalia i think it’s called) and USB audio solutions are natively and fully supported by built in drivers (as long as the hardware is produced according to the HD audio spec). It’s only Creative and other so called “big-name” manufacturers that are crapping their pants and can’t keep up with providing drivers for their “high-end” audio solutions.

    TPM was cut to shreds because Intel and co. were unable to provide the technology as planned. MS had to tone it down to support existing technologies.

    Orcas was never supposed to ship with Vista either. Orcas is a codename for the next version of Visual Studio.

  8. Hey, I’m all for Microsoft jettisoning whiz-bang futuristic features if it means the stuff that’s actually vital is rock-solid. Erm … well, we’ll see (maybe Vista sp1).

    * Far-out graphics: You know, I don’t even mind XP’s graphics system (well, once I skin it with something other than the fugtacular Luna) — as long as I get my work done. Vista will have far better 3D-accelerated UI performance, and you can customize it with an upcoming version of ObjectDesktop.

    * New file system: Yeah, great; just what we need. The current file system works just fine, thank you, and since we’re still ironing out Linux and Mac compatibility, I don’t miss this.

    * Max: Looks interesting, but hey, the nature of experimental projects is that they often get killed. Note that the creators mention Windows Live, so where you might see this is in an online service. I’m still getting my friends and family used to flickr, so I don’t really need something else — especially something that’s Windows-only. (Sorry, Grandma, you have a Mac, so no photos for YOU.)

    The thing that’s always been best about Windows — or Linux, or the Mac, or any other platform (yes, even NeXTStep) is third-party development. The foundation on which Max was built is readily available and, actually, quite easy to develop for. I’d actually rather someone OTHER than Microsoft develop these ideas, because frankly, they may do a better job. (And they should — that’s why it’s important to have platforms, and for all the rightful criticism we could have of Microsoft, why Microsoft’s developer tools and relations are so important.)

  9. Monad/PowerShell most certainly was intended to be a part of Vista, Stebet.

    LH 4074’s Aero indeed was very close to what we have now – just more prevalent.

    Windows CardSpace has not been removed from Vista, DJ.

    .NET 3.0 was supposed to be Orcas. And it was supposed to ship with Vista. Then Microsoft joined WPF and .NET 2.0 and named it .NET 3.0 – and that’s what’s going to ship with Vista. Not the real .NET 3.0.. believe me, I live .NET.

    Symantec’s “networking bugs” were stupid security things that didn’t mean anything for an alpha OS. The real bugs that DJ is talking about are things that result in a lack of network connectivity, et. al. For instance, it takes 10 times the time for your computer to recognize and connect to a network now than it did on XP.

    Vista claims to support the HD drivers for the sound, but believe me, it’s BS. On my laptop (two-month dual-core Centrino media pc) with Vista 5744 with Intel HD onboard – it “recognizes” the drivers and installs them – but no audio unless you use the XP drivers.

    Vista is great. But for what little new it brings it shouldn’t take 6 years to push it out.

    In 6 months Fedora Core innovated like crazy, and FC6 compared to FC5 brings far more than Vista compared to XP does – in 6 years. That’s ridiculous.

  10. MAX was never a product or a part of Longhorn/Vista. It was a prototype from a team whose charter was to demonstrate and figure out what kinds of great things can be built on the powerful new .NET Framework 3.0 platform.

    That team isn’t going away, they’re just moving to a different part of the organization. You’ll hear from them again.

  11. Hmm.. guess i was wrong on the Monad thing. Good to get that cleared up.

    However, Orcas has (at least publically) always been defined as a Visual Studio version and not a version of the .NET Framework. I more or less live and breathe .NET myself but Orcas was very well defined as a Visual Studio version since at least PDC 2003. MS was still working hard on .NET 2.0 at the time. Orcas was meant to be the special version of Visual Studio that complemented the 2.0 Framework as well as give design time experiences for the WinFX APIs.

    About the network taking 10 seconds longer to connect than XP, I’m pretty sure you can scratch those as driver issues. I’ve had no problems connecting to networks be it wireless or wired (i have a Linksys Wireless card and a built-in 1Gbit ethernet). And i’ve been actively testing Vista since Beta 1 (i’m running 5840 right now). However, the only reason i see why it might take a little longer is because it’s not only configuring IPv4 but IPv6 as well.

    Not sure what the deal is with the HD audio, but then again, those are propably driver issues as well and i’m sure those are fixed before RTM.

    Regarding Fedora, did they innovate all of that themselves, or did they pull in other open source projects and tack it together as fast as they could? Do they support all their new features? Do they have documentation and API’s for those features readily available? Are they stable? I’m not a huge Linux person so i can’t answer those questions myself.

    There is sooooo much more to Vista then what people see on the surface. The new tools MS has created for developers to use with Vista are vastly superior to other offerings.

    6 years of course is a long time, but people must not forget that shortly after PDC 2003 the whole project was reset after discovering that the project was slowly falling apart and way too unstable. Now heres to hoping that MS will stick to their shorter time between Windows versions promise.

    After all this new groundwork and new APIs that have been put into Vista i’m damn sure that the next version (Vienna) will be a true leap.

  12. [quote comment=”6827″]About the network taking 10 seconds longer to connect than XP, I’m pretty sure you can scratch those as driver issues. I’ve had no problems connecting to networks be it wireless or wired (i have a Linksys Wireless card and a built-in 1Gbit ethernet). And i’ve been actively testing Vista since Beta 1 (i’m running 5840 right now). However, the only reason i see why it might take a little longer is because it’s not only configuring IPv4 but IPv6 as well.[/quote]

    It’ll connect without a problem, but the entire process of identifying the network, and getting an IP address just takes so damn long.

    [quote comment=”6827″]Regarding Fedora, did they innovate all of that themselves, or did they pull in other open source projects and tack it together as fast as they could? Do they support all their new features? Do they have documentation and API’s for those features readily available? Are they stable? I’m not a huge Linux person so i can’t answer those questions myself.[/quote]

    Yep. Themselves. Don’t know how familiar you are with it, but Fedora is by RedHat, the biggest Linux corporation. They completely overhauled SELinux and a lot more, you should have a little look-see at this excellent article here: ‘Fedora Core 6 Innovates Unabated’

    [quote comment=”6827″]There is sooooo much more to Vista then what people see on the surface. The new tools MS has created for developers to use with Vista are vastly superior to other offerings.

    6 years of course is a long time, but people must not forget that shortly after PDC 2003 the whole project was reset after discovering that the project was slowly falling apart and way too unstable. Now heres to hoping that MS will stick to their shorter time between Windows versions promise.

    After all this new groundwork and new APIs that have been put into Vista i’m damn sure that the next version (Vienna) will be a true leap.[/quote]

    I agree. Vista is great, it’s just when things keep dropping out and delays have become not only normal but the only way of life, it gets irritating. Very much so.

    About the .NET 3.0 issue: Orcas is testing for the .NET IDE (VS.net), but when Longhorn went live, .NET 3.0 – the platform – was to ship with it as well as WPF/XAML – separately. Like I was saying earlier, they just renamed 2.0 to 3.0 and shipped that instead.

    I don’t blame you for not realizing that: it seems Microsoft has obliterated all references to the original roadmap for Longhorn/Orcas (then people ask why the anger!), but if you’ll take a look at this thread here: http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=114156 it says “This is the original developer tools roadmap that places Orcas with Longhorn” and links to a roadmap that is no longer available @ microsoft.com.

  13. Longhorn/Vista was supposed to be the most innovative, important OS since Windows 95. It isn’t – Windows XP was more dramatically different than Vista – especially when you factor in the timeframe required to deliver, and the proposed feature set. Microsoft was promising more, the industry was expecting more…and it just isn’t there.

    Vista transformed itself from Revolutionary, to evolutionary – for an OS that is supposed to be the platform for the next 10 years (according to Allchin. He’s also stated that more innovation will happen in personal computing in the next 10 years than in the past 25. But the reduced feature set of Vista, if truly the PC OS platform for the next 10 years, makes that nearly impossible to reach.

    Vista is one gigantic compromise – and it probably hurts Microsoft and it’s employees most of all. They truly WANTED to supply all of the promised innovation – they just couldn’t get it done. I don’t know whether it was mis-managed, or people down at the lowest levels couldn’t get it done, but I believe that what they had designed, researched, and planned was a truly amazing OS.

    What’s left is completely unlike what they had intended, save for some shiny pseudo-translucence. It doesn’t matter whether Max was intended as a feature, prototype, or a platfom.

    I think that MS should have created a spinoff team creating a modern OS that was NOT backwards compatible, stuck with their convictions, and hired a few apple designers (while MSFT design has improved on task-based design, their visual design is so very sad). That would have changed the future of the PC and layed the groundwork for the next 25 years….

  14. Hi Skrati,

    I completely agree with you, that’s the real problem. Vista was amazing, and the entire concept of WinFS was proof enough of that. But Windows is an ancient OS now, and the best thing they can do is copy Apple: create a new version that isn’t backwards compatible, then add virtualization to make it run older software.

  15. In any case it contradicts Microsoft philosophy towards users (when compared as how they teach how you should deploy policies)… “Give them the toughest set of restrictions, so then when you give them a permission they feel about it like an improvement”… What now? will they make it so it appears as a “later upgrade”?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.