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BillG Memories, Part 2

BillG Memories, Part 2

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Not surprisingly, as a peon, I don’t get to interact with Bill very often, so my few interactions are almost by definition memorable.

I’ve posted this story before, but it deserves to be recycled in honor of Bill’s last few days.

This happened back in the mid 1980’s, we were doing a project review for Lan Manager 1.0 with him. 

One portion of the meeting was about my component, DOS Lan Manager (basically an enhanced version of the MS-NET redirector, with support for a fair number of the Lan Manager APIs on the client).  My boss and I were given the job of presenting the data for that portion.

One of the slides (not Powerpoint, it didn’t exist at the time – Lucite slides on an overhead projector) we had covered the memory footprint of the DOS Lan Manager redirector.

For DOS LM 1.0, the redirector took up 64K of RAM.

And Bill went ballistic.

“What do you mean 64K?  When we wrote BASIC, it only took up 8K of RAM.  What the f*k do you think idiots think you’re doing?  Is this thing REALLY 8 F*ing BASIC’s?”

The only answer we could give him was “Yes”J.

To this day, I sometimes wonder if he complains that Windows XP is “16,000 F*ing BASIC’s”.

We didn't ignore Bill's comment, btw (you never want to do that).  We worked on reducing the footprint of the DOS redirector by first moving the data into LIM Extended memory, next by moving the code into expanded memory.  For LAN Manager 2.1, we finally managed to reduce the below 640K footprint of the DOS redirector to 128 bytes.  It took a lot of work, and some truly clever programming, but it did work.

Since the last one was recycled, here’s a bonus BillG memory.  I may have discussed this one in the past in a C9 video but I can’t find any references on my blog about it.

Shortly after my 15th anniversary at Microsoft, I got an invitation to a dinner at BillG’s house for all the employees with more than 15 years of service (I had just squeaked into that rather elite group).  There were about 100 of us with our significant others at the dinner, and not surprisingly Bill was totally mobbed (even among groups of old-timers Bill still gets loads of people pestering him, I guess it goes with the territory).  About half way through the dinner, Bill’s daughter and her nanny came out to play on the swings before bedtime. 

Bill immediately disentangled himself from his various conversations and went over to the swing-set and spent about 20 minutes pushing his daughter on the swings.  He could have ignored her and let the nanny deal with it, he could have simply given his daughter good night kisses and gone back to the party, but he didn’t.  He blew all these hideously senior Microsoft people off and went to spend time with his daughter.

That was when I realized how much parenthood had changed Bill for the better.

  • I think the second story is there in your blog, atleast the party is. :)

  • Don't forget that redirector story happened back in the day of DOS, where you were limited to 640K RAM, and 64K was 10% of that! So it do look ridiculous for a TSR.

  • Yuhong, you're right, it WAS a big chunk of that.  But the DOS redirector did a TON of stuff.  The MS-NET 1.0 redirector was 30K for just basic file&print services, the DOS LM redirector added on named pipe support, limited remote admin support, Win 3.0 VDM support, LanMan authentication, a ton of perf improvements and a boatload of stuff I don't remember offhand.  It also provided hooks for SNA Server (now called Host Integration Server to allow DOS clients to communicate with IBM mainframes asynchronously.

  • I appreciate the LAN Manager story.  But what is the point of the other one?  Bill Gates spends time with his daughter.  Well, shouldn't he?

  • Erik: Many/most stereotypical CEOs wouldn't drop everything to go spend time with their kid.  But Bill did.  He blew off a bunch of insanely senior MSFT people to go play with her.  10 years earlier he wouldn't have.

  • BTW, there was two versions of the LAN Manager redirector, basic and full.

    BTW, how about blogging about the LM hash and how it got created?

  • Yuhong, I WROTE Dos Lanman, I know that.  And it has no relevence to this discussion.

    And I have no idea how the LM has got created, so I'd be a poor person to write about it.

    Please keep the discussion on topic.

  • "BTW, there was two versions of the LAN Manager redirector, basic and full."

    I thought this was on topic because after all, we are talking about the size of the redirector.

  • Hi Larry,

    are sure it was his daughter?

    beacuse in your earlier post (

    it was his sun. or is it like you went dine with Bill two time and first time Bill left you for his sun and second time he left you guys to play with his daughter?

  • If I said it was is son 4 years ago, it was his son.  It's been a while.

  • Are you not working today.. or do you blog as a pre lunch time activity?

    (sorry.. out of the topic)

  • Hi Larry,

    I think that the point about memory size is very important: I love Microsoft products in general (e.g. MS Office and WinXP SP2), but I must confess that I don't like very much the hardware requirements of Vista (I think they are too high, to have a good user experience).

    Of course, I don't know about the implementation details, but do you think that some optimization would be possible to build a fast and stable operating system (like both WinXP SP2 and Mac OS X are, for example) ?

    I hope that Vista++ will be better in that sense.


  • There are team working very hard to reduce the memory footprint of the OS.  

    It's a really hard problem though, because you need to decide what functionality you're going to lose in the reduction.  For instance, if you kill the DWM, you lose glass (which customers love).  If you kill desktop search, there's a bunch of different stuff that breaks (stuff which customers love).  If you kill the firewall, then you leave your customers at the mercy of malware.

    There is no one-size fits all solution to shrinking the size of Windows, the trick is to get rid of the stuff that actually isn't needed (and there's a bunch of stuff that's loaded on the OS for individual scenarios that's NOT needed in general).

  • I get a feeling that the whole planet will miss BillG's yelling in a couple of years... :)

  • "There is no one-size fits all solution to shrinking the size of Windows, the trick is to get rid of the stuff that actually isn't needed (and there's a bunch of stuff that's loaded on the OS for individual scenarios that's NOT needed in general)."

    I'd prefer to let the user decide.

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