A mismanaged brain dump at Microsoft is being blamed for the decision to ship six or more versions of Vista, the next generation of Microsoft Windows.
“Brain dump” is the process by which programmers quickly transfer massive amounts of information to their colleagues and management. The intent is to balance the knowledge load among team members.
Brain dumps started at Microsoft when the company was still located in Albuquerque, N.M. and originally involved the use of peyote, S-100 motherboards, and direct cortical stimulus. After moving to the Seattle area, the process was eventually refined to remove the occasionally less-than-accurate results obtained by using native pharmaceuticals. “When we found out the landscape crew was spraying the mushrooms on the lawn, that was the last straw,” a Microsoft employee confided to Iron Tulips in 1992. “But by then the ‘486 [Intel 80486 CPU] was powerful enough, we didn’t need the extra pharma coaxing.”
In the incident that led to multiple distributions of Vista, a key Windows programmer was strapped into the brain dump chair by colleagues, who then decided to drive across Lake Washington to Seattle for pizza during the procedure. Due to high winds, the floating bridge that connects Seattle to Redmond was closed after they had crossed over. By the time the programmers returned and remembered their colleague, the brain dump procedure had rebooted his brain six times. Each procedure delivered a slightly different version of Vista. “Since we can’t tell one from the other without reading a million lines of code, we just have to release all six versions,” explained a rather testy Steve Balmer, Microsoft CEO. “Just wait until I get my hands on that chair.”