Microsoft's unpaid testers

I just discovered this charming little quote in the winows 7 blog:

To date, with the wide usage of the Windows 7 Beta we have received a hundreds [sic] of Connect (the MSDN/Technet enrolled beta customers) bug reports and have fixes in the pipeline for the highest percentage of those reported bugs than in any previous Windows development cycle.

So you're publically advertising the fact that your product was very buggy when you launched the beta test phase, and you're scrambling to fix all the bugs at the last minute? Whatever happened to internal testing? Who will test all the bugs introduced with your bug fixes?

Bah, my dislike of the Microsoft software mill continues! Hooray for uninformed opinion!


DaveB said...

So you're annoyed that:

* they have public beta cycle? You mean they shouldn't have a public testing phase?

*that they actually have fixes in the pipeline? That's rhetorical

*that they make money? So?

*that they acknowledge that software has bugs? My hello world application doesn't ... I think. Any company which doesn't acknowledge the existence of bugs is ignorant or lying

I see ALL of those things as positive points, and most of them (including making money off free work by users) as normal practice in many companies including open source ones.

You can be quite sure that MS have internal testing. Extremely good testing from what I hear. Their published techniques are well reviewed in the generic texts I've seen (ie ones that seem critical of everything and NOT just MS shills).

So ... what really is it about fixing things identified in a public beta phase that you think is not right?

Thomi Richards said...

Ahhh, Dave, I was hoping you'd rise to the bait..

Of course you need to test things! That much is obvious, and of course you're not going to find all the bugs. However, their "extremely good" testing leaves a hell of a lot to be desired. There are *still* large, and rather obvious bugs in windows XP that are not fixed, even after numerous service packs and security fixes. (ever tried using more than one keyboard with different layouts? You know that language bar thing that's supposed to allow you to switch layouts? It's crap - totally unusable)...

But I digress. The whole point is that I give you my personal guarantee that when windows 7 arrives, it will be full of glaringly obvious bugs - and I mean really obvious, show stoppers. I base this prediction on every MS operating system since WIN95.

Now, you mention that open source "companies" do this as well - damn straight, but the situation is a little different there. I don't mind so much if KDE is borked when I upgrade - I haven't paid for it after all. The whole point of OSS is that if it's broken, you have the power to fix it, or at least report a bug and provide useful feedback so it can get fixed. If the KDE guys were raking in the dough in the billions then yeah, I'd complain about them as well: but they're not.

It's interesting that we can compare two products - one open source, and one commercial - and see that the quality is roughly the same. Examples I'd mention would be Apache & IIS, Firefox & IE, KMail/Thunderbird & Outlook, Blender & Maya.... sure, the OSS took longer to get to it's fully matured state, but from a consumers point of view, I'd rather pay no money and get an equivalent product that I can tinker with and fix as I need.


DaveB said...

this might interest you - video interviews pushing the security development lifecycle

and of course ... how could i resist that bait

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