In my last posting, I presented how to fix WinHEC from the attendee’s point of view. This post will look at why it is critical for Microsoft to get it right. For the last 10 years, the Windows group has been waging a war to improve driver quality. In that time, many great tools and initiatives have aided the development of better drivers. But there are still a lot missing items, and unfortunately, Redmond seems disconnected from some of the problems of the driver community. Yes, a number of us try to call this out, but even the most respected professional will not carry the impact of a room with over a hundred driver developers saying “This tool or program has a problem”.
Right now, I cannot think of an effort from Redmond that does not need some improvement, but when I talk to Microsoft developers, many of them do not believe the problems are important. The problems can range from the breaking of most corporate (and many personal) driver build environments by the incompatible changes to the setenv script, to complexity of Driver Test Manager. Worse yet, some efforts that were initially praised by the community are now despised. Take WPP tracing, for example: almost everyone viewed this as a fantastic tool when it came out, but with incompatible revisions and inability of most of the community to get the more advanced features to work, developers are now ripping the traces out of their drivers.
Redmond seems to be charging ahead with new programs and tools, many which appear good, but actually miss the mark terribly. It was revealed on the Microsoft newsgroups recently that they are working on Visual Studio integration for device driver development. While the community talks about this a lot, at last year’s WinHEC, when the question was asked (in the one feedback forum that was held), most people rated this extremely low when compared to other tools and fixes to the existing tools.
Microsoft, you need to get the input of the community. Surveys such as the recent DTM survey are worthless, since they structure the answers into preconceived categories and do not allow the community to interact with each other and Microsoft. The great strength of Windows is the large number, and for most part, good quality of drivers available. Please don’t waste your time on efforts without getting the community involved early on.
So, let’s see a WinHEC that is exciting enough to attract a large audience, and filled with feedback sessions attended by Microsoft developers and managers to hear about the problems the community needs fixed.