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Show-Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft [Hardcover]

G. Pascal Zachary
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 July 1994
The phenomenal success of Bill Gates and his Microsoft Corporation hinges, above all, on an ability to look to the future. Not content with holding a bulging share of the market for software applications, nor with dominating the crucial operating systems business by virtue of its DOS and Windows programs, Microsoft is always looking to the future. And the future for Microsoft now goes by the name of "Windows NT." A software innovation of the first order, NT could redefine the standards for computing throughout the world, into the next century. NT endows inexpensive personal computers with the capabilities of giant mainframes - yet without sacrificing the inherent flexibility and appeal of PCs.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Printing edition (2 July 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029356717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029356715
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 16.3 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 708,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Steven Levy author of "Hackers, Artificial Life," and "Insanely Great" G. Pascal Zachary managed to get total access to the formerly unseen programming catacombs of Microsoft and has made the most of it with this riveting look inside one of the world's most fascinating corporations. Great reading for hackers and computer virgins alike.

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Dave Cutler was reared on adversity. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Project Experience 2 Jan 2011
By MrZipf
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a fly's eye view of the first version of Windows NT. It is a page-turning read of what's it like to work on a major project. The book presents slices of life for people working in all aspects of the project and some important people inside Microsoft at the time. The book doesn't dig too deeply into the technical details of NT, but provides details of the challenges at a level someone with an passing interest in operating systems could understand. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
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A story centered around Dave Cutler's team of mostly ex-DEC folks as they started the NT project and worked towards its first big launch for Microsoft. Bringing in a largely outside team to work on such a core piece of software was a very new thing for Microsoft, and a lot of the book details the friction around the edges of the team as it grew. Lots of insight into the creation of what would become Microsoft's core operating system today and be the mainstay of the company.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting 13 Nov 2002
By Kevin B. Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
I found this an absolutely riveting read. The book provides a view into a type of company and an approach to software development that is different from anyplace *I've* ever worked. Many things about it have stuck with me--the perspective on testing an operating system that will have to work with every popular software product; the staffing philosophy at Microsoft; the "eating your own dog food" concept (developers and testers had to actually use NT as they were developing it, thus constantly exposing themselves to its flaws). The author does a good job of telling the stories both of the big players and the worker drones. It's a very personal book about what strikes me as a very impersonal company. It's one of those rare non-technical books that I recommend to people who are new to software engineering. I read it for the first time when I'd just gotten my first software development job, and again several years later, and I didn't enjoy it any less the second time around.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable reading for NT administrators and developers alike 15 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book presents an entertaining account of how the first version of Windows NT was developed. It tells the "story of NT," how it was created and the personalities of the people behind it. It isn't a technical book and it doesn't try to be one -- its purpose is to entertain, not to inform. Even so, anyone who works with NT on a regular basis ought to read this book -- it will lead you to appreciate NT as a human achievement as well as a technical one.
When Windows 2000 is released, NT will become Microsoft's flagship operating system. This fact makes Zachary's book all the more worth reading.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great background for MS networking standard-bearer! 5 Feb 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I found this book to be:
1. A good read. This is oftentimes not a quality on books dealing with computers. Pascal held my attention by focusing on the personalities behind the development of NT, not the technical info. There are many books out there that do that. What he offered was interesting insight into the people behind the product.
2 Well balanced. The technical aspects were simply explained without being condescending or disinteresting. Again, this is a very difficult balancing trick.

As a network administrator and an MCT, I found the background information provided by Pascal both entertaining and useful.

I would recommend this book to any individual seeking to learn more about Windows NT, for whatever reason. I've put it on my recommended reading list for my students
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! 31 May 2004
By Rodrigo Strauss - Published on Amazon.com
It's really a wonderful book! If you are a software developer trying to figure out how the big projects are done, or if you are just someone who is trying to figure out what is inside a software developer mind, go and read it.
For software developer:
Don't forget, it's a book written by a non-technical person. Sometimes, the writer tries with no success to explain the difference between C and C++, the function of the memory manager and other ones. The first chapter of the book is just terrible. He starts telling the NT's manager history, since he was a child. But don't give up. The book will get really interesting after the second chapter.
For software developer relatives:
Want to understand why your husband stays working until late hours? Want to figure out why most programmers think they are the best human beings alive? Read this book. I hope you can understand us reading this. I'm still trying to make my wife read this. :-)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading 1 Feb 1998
By ar@vt.edu - Published on Amazon.com
If you go into this book with the right expectations, you will find it a real page turner, despite what some people say.
It is not about software development, or about the technicalities of the NT design, but about the people, the tensions, and in short, the environment surrounding the development of WindowsNT. It is not just for the programmer, or just the average computer user, or even the person who has never used a computer at all. It should appeal to all of the above, but that said, you must understand that it cannot satisfy all the questions that people of any one of those groups might have.
Knowing that, and expecting it, I think you will enjoy this book quite a lot.
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