Why Not VSS

Some links to why VSS might not be the best choice of version control system:

This is a Must Read:

Does Microsoft use VSS

It appears that they do not. The general consensus (well supported) is that they use a derivation of Perforce which is called SourceDepot. They have also used their own internally created systems. Allegedly the Windows 95 team used a system called 'slime' (SLM, Source Library Management) which wasn't very powerful.

I worked at Microsoft for 2 1/2 years, and SLM was used for most of the big projects at that time (1996-1998). That included Windows 9x, IE, Office, and Windows NT. My understanding is that Microsoft switched to SourceDepot at the beginning of 1999. VSS was used for some small projects, but most 'real' projects used SLM

- SteveDonie

E-Mail from Robert Cronk

This e-mail is also worth a read. Here is an extract:

…a group from our company went to Microsoft for a meeting and they asked us what we used for source control and (at the time) we were using VSS and they laughed at us! That specific team inside Microsoft was using a rebranded, renamed version of Perforce at the time and they thought we were dumb for using VSS.…

Visual Studio Team System

Microsoft have written an all new system called Visual Studio Team System which looks to be very good. The usual caveats apply though - it's a Windows only system and experience of it in the real world will reveal how much server power is needed to use it effectively.

Mon, 2005-07-18 12:56
( categories: )

MS SCM usage comments are basically correct

I have worked at Microsoft off and on since 1999.

SLM was the most commonly used SCM when I arrived and had been used for years. I know of no projects at Microsoft that used VSS, and as has been mentioned, VSS was not thought well of by developers at Microsoft. It was, if you will, Visual Basic rather than C++ ... a toy for novices rather than a "real" system.

This isn't to say that no project at MS ever used VSS ... SLM was arcane and occasionally difficult so there's some possibility some projects off in corners used VSS ... but it would have been career limiting for the developers involved.

By my last tour of duty, most projects had switched to SourceDepot, which is a much friendlier tool than SLM (which was indeed pronounced slime!). However, I cannot verify that SourceDepot == Perforce, although that is the story I have always heard. One of these days I'll go try Perforce and if it is the same I'll try to remember to update this comment.

Last name withheld for all the obvious reasons ... while there is no proprietary information in the above I'd hate for my comments to be taken as negative towards any MS project or product. I've used all the tools mentioned here (including VB and VSS) ... ironically, with the sole exception of Subversion! Even VB and VSS have their place and time when they're appropriate, but going forward I'd prefer to use Perforce or Subversion (assuming that Subversion lives up to its reputation after I get a chance to check it out in detail, and that SourceDepot == Perforce.)

Carry on!

Incorrect Links

The link for SVN vs VSS is dead, but can be accessed via the archived copy at the Wayback Machine. Also, the URL for Robert Cronk's email is also wrong.


Thank you for pointing out the bad links, they are corrected now.

Visual Studio Team System - Not Ready for Prime Time

Microsoft have written an all new system called Visual Studio Team System which looks to be very good.
(emphasis mine)

I have evaluated the source control components of Team System (Beta 2) for our company. On paper it looks good but in actual practice it is very slow, resource intensive, and most-importantly unstable. This is not intended as FUD, but simply reflects my actual experience. It may be cliché, but it really does seem that Microsoft history is repeating: Version 1 promises the moon, but actual delivery comes in 3+ annual (or worse) installments.