Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Not all bugs will be fixed - or fixed quickly. Not all bugs are even actually bugs. I'll look at why some bugs might never get fixed.

I've complained about this bug for years and no one has an answer. It's horrible - forums are full of people who are experiencing this bug and no one has an answer. It's been there for years and Microsoft continues to just ignore us. Obviously, Bill's too busy trying to make more money by forcing us to upgrade and doesn't have time for bugs that impact lots of people. WHY WON'T THEY FIX THIS HORRIBLE BUG?

As you can probably guess, that's a composite question representing questions (and comments and rants) that I get a lot. Basically, someone is convinced that they're dealing with the Most Important Bug Ever and Microsoft - no, Bill Gates himself - is ignoring them.

Typically, there's no satisfying the folks who have landed in that extreme position. I often do suggest - and it's an honest suggestion - that they might be better served by a Mac or Linux solution because they're not satisfied with Microsoft and Windows.

However, for those who are interested, I'd like to go over some of the things that factor into the process and why your Most Important Bug Ever might not get fixed.

And yes, why Bill Gates is not only ignoring you, but why he probably has no idea that you or your Most Important Bug Ever even exist.

Important: There seems to be a fair amount of confusion. I'm not talking about a specific bug. I get people coming to me all the time saying that they don't understand why this bug that they've encountered hasn't been fixed, and how they believe it's the Most Important Bug Ever. This article discusses why the bug that they're experiencing might never be fixed.

No excuses

I do want to be clear about something: this isn't about making excuses for Microsoft. They do screw up and miss important things from time to time. More often than not, it's a case of not clearly understanding the priorities of their users, but even that is no excuse: sometimes, they get it wrong.

This is more about explaining and trying to understand the process and the incredible complexity of the problem, and with that, gain a little bit of an understanding about why a "bug" might not get resolved in a timely fashion.

To me, part of the "no excuses for Microsoft" position of what follows is that it applies to any and all large systems vendors. Even though I'll use "Microsoft" in the discussion below - mostly because that's where I have experience - the discussion applies equally well if you replace Microsoft with Apple, Mozilla, Google, Intuit, or any of a hundred other software manufacturers.

And not to minimize your experience

I also don't want to minimize or gloss over the impact of whatever it is that you're experiencing. The bug could indeed have a significant impact on the way that you use your computer every day.

I am taking your experience seriously - as does Microsoft, believe it or not - but I also want to be pragmatic.

Because your experience has such an impact on you, I think that it's important to understand the realistic chances of getting it addressed, as well as making sure that the correct culprit is being blamed.

Sometimes it's just not a bug

“...even if there are thousands of people experiencing the same problem, that might be tiny compared to all of the users that are not ...”

I've been putting the word "bug" in quotes above because sometimes, it truly isn't a bug at all. Sometimes, it's intended behavior.

Just because you don't like something doesn't mean it's a bug. It may annoy the heck out of you, but that doesn't mean that it's wrong or accidental.

Microsoft really does do research to determine the best way for things to work - lots of research, typically referred to as usability studies. They update and refine their products based in large part on the feedback that they get from real people using the proposed changes long before those ever see the light of day - and indeed, based on that feedback, many such changes never make it into the product.

But, there's no pleasing everyone.

If 900 people really like a proposed user interface and 100 don't, you can bet that Microsoft will normally choose that which pleases the most. (Actually, they'll try to get it to be more like 990/10 first, but that's somewhat beside the point here.) If you're one of the 100 ... well, when it comes to that feature, you're out of luck.

It's not a bug, it's a decision that appeals to the majority of users - a majority of which you, unfortunately, are not a part.

Sometimes it's just not that important

There are bugs in Windows that I'm certain are well over a decade old and will never be fixed.


Because the number of people impacted by the bug or the severity of the bug's impact is so small as to not be important enough to fix when compared with making other progress on the product.

So, let's say that you've actually found 1,000 people who have experienced what you believe is the Most Important Bug Ever.

The number of Windows installations was expected to exceed 1 billion machines in 2008.

You have 0.0001% of Windows users experiencing your Most Important Bug Ever.

Now even the fact that 1000 is actually a teeny, tiny fraction of Windows users isn't enough to get the bug ignored - it's just one factor.

The phrase "data loss" is another.

One of the classifications assigned to problem reports is the concept of "data loss" - meaning "does this particular bug cause the user to lose data?" That could be as simple as a crash that causes you to lose what you were working on right now, or some other kind of failure that unexpectedly wipes out all or part of the data stored on your hard disk.

Data loss matters.

If a part of the screen isn't re-drawn as it should be or a mouse pointer is lost or an information window closes unexpectedly, those are all significantly less serious than something which causes a user to lose data.

So even if there are thousands of people experiencing the same problem, that might be tiny compared to all of the users that are not. If the problem is mostly non-destructive, you can see that it might not get prioritized as highly as other issues - including even future product and new feature development.

Sometimes it's not Microsoft's bug

One of Windows' most compelling features is its ability to be extended by third-party hardware vendors. Today's version of Windows is able to work with hardware that hasn't even been dreamed of yet simply because when that hardware finally does come into existence, the manufacturer is able to write software (aka drivers) that integrate with Windows to bring support for that new device.

The key phrase there? "The manufacturer is able to write software ... that integrates with Windows".

Neither you nor I really care about where the line is, but Microsoft didn't write, and isn't necessarily responsible for every bit of software used by Windows to run your machine.

What that means is that some of the bugs (unfortunately, it's occasionally "many" of the bugs) that users perceive of as being in Windows aren't in Windows at all. Those bugs are in the software that's been added to Windows by other vendors. (And even there it can be tricky to understand who's responsible because hardware drivers can cause symptoms in seemingly unrelated areas - for example, display driver problems can often affect the mouse's functionality.)

Microsoft can absolutely pass along reports of issues with third-party software, but they don't control how, when or even if those bugs get resolved. They, like you, are at the mercy of those third party software authors.

This isn't limited to drivers, by the way. There are third-party applications and addons that are often perceived as part of Windows, even though they are not. When they fail, they often report as failure in a Windows component when in fact, the fault truly does lie elsewhere.

Fixing bugs is risky, and expensive

Unfortunately, fixing a bug - even a simple one - is neither simple or cheap.

Because of the incredible, unimaginable complexity of the systems that we take for granted these days, the ramifications of even the smallest bug fix are often difficult to completely predict. It's not at all uncommon for a bug fix here to break something else "over there".

Hence, a good software vendor tests even the smallest fix thoroughly.

What that means in Microsoft's case is that all of Windows needs to be run through a complete testing cycle to make sure that nothing was broken by the fix.

Imagine what it means to test every single feature in Windows. Now imagine doing that for every different edition of Windows (Home, Pro, Ultimate, whatever). Now imagine doing that again for every edition in every language.

Now imagine trying to do all of that quickly.

The upshot is that the cost of even the simplest of fixes is surprisingly high; thus, the decision to fix a specific bug is not a simple one.

And yet, all software has bugs

There's an old software engineering maxim that says a bug found by the customer is 10 times as expensive as one found by pre-ship testing; a bug found by pre-ship testing is 10 times as expensive as a bug found by the engineer writing the software, and a bug found by the engineer is 10 times as expensive as a bug found in the design before the software is ever even written.

In other words, the earlier that bugs are found, then the less expensive they are to fix.

So, you can imagine that there's a lot of pressure to fix bugs as early in the development cycle as possible. Indeed, there are untold thousands upon thousands of bugs that are fixed and never make it into the released product.

And yet, some make it through regardless.

That is the nature of software development. There's absolutely no such thing as bug-free software. Period.

It's also the nature of the incredible complexity of the system. There are days when I'm amazed that it works at all. Smile

We want it perfect, and we want it now

All software vendors are in a no-win situation.

We complain about software that takes forever to arrive, and we complain about software that has bugs.

In the real world, those two things are at odds with each other.

It takes time and discipline to write and test software so that it has as few bugs as possible. Conversely, software that is rushed to market because people are clamoring for it is likely to have more than the average number of bugs.

We can't have it both ways.

Every software release - every software release, I don't care who it's from - is a compromise. I can pretty much guarantee you that there are engineers who are pleading for just a few more days to fix a few more bugs, and that there are marketing and sales people who are complaining that every day longer is resulting in massive market share or revenue loss.

The reality is somewhere in between. Some releases strike the right balance, others do not.

Where does that leave you?

I'm not trying to paint a bleak picture where bugs never get fixed - they do, just not all of them.

If you encounter something that isn't working as you expect definitely look for solutions, and if you have the ability report the problem if there are no solutions to be found. There's a tremendous amount of information and resources available on the internet (of which I hope Ask Leo! can occasionally be one Smile).

Just don't get overly frustrated if no fix is forthcoming. And don't immediately jump to the conclusion that it's being totally ignored - that's highly unlikely.

Instead, focus on finding workarounds or ways to avoid the problem. If it really is the Most Important Bug Ever for you, that might even mean switching to software from some other vendor.

Oh, and about Bill...

It always causes me to scratch my head when people rail against Bill Gates for perceived issues with Microsoft or its products. I'm not sure what it is about Microsoft that even today causes people to blame Bill personally for all its faults and failings.

Bill hasn't worked there since sometime in 2008.

And even when he did, he wasn't writing code and he most certainly wasn't examining and approving or rejecting individual bug fixes in products or making specific product design decisions.

In other words, he was never personally responsible for whatever feature it is that you don't like or the bug that you've encountered.

So these days, your ire at him is wasted, unless you happen to object to what he's doing with his philanthropic foundation.

Article C4927 - September 9, 2011 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Tom Vihvelin
September 13, 2011 8:40 AM

I agree with everything you said. However, Windows Update does have a serious problem that could cause data loss. This problem has existed for years and has not been fixed.

When Windows Update needs to re-boot your computer to install updates, it does so without closing Microsoft Outlook first. This causes it to crash the data files that Outlook had open at the time of the re-boot. How hard would it be for Windows Update to either 1) issue a warning to the user, and allow the user to shut down Outlook properly or 2) Shut down Outlook and close the files by itself? This is not rocket science and many other programs issue these warnings. Why can't a Microsoft product detect another Microsoft product to allow a graceful exit and prevent data loss?

After the re-boot, Outlook warns me that it has been improperly shut down, and it must check the data files which takes a very long time and slows my computer to a crawl. Bill Gates may not be programming any more, but he should be personally embarrassed at this huge flaw in the Windows Update software.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

As I think others have pointed out, that's not a flaw in Windows Update, but rather a flaw in Microsoft Outlook that it's not responding to the "system is going down, close yourself" message. And again, BILL'S NOT THERE. It's nothing he's paying attention to any more and has no reason to be embarrased. The Office team, perhaps, but Bill's long gone.

Gabe Lawrence
September 13, 2011 8:50 AM

I've never submitted a bug to Microsoft but I've submitted many bugs to other vendors. One thing I've noticed is that one of the deciding factors that determins whether or not your problem gets fixed or even looked at by the bug-fix department is this...can it be reproduced and did you provide EXACT steps for it's reproduction. In our enterprise software, I've submitted numerous bugs to the development team and because I was able to reproduce them and explain the exact steps, the problems were fixed. It's definitely more work on my part but the end result is there....bug fixes! I'm sure they all have different protocols in handling bug submissions but human nature is part of that process (documented or not) and providing steps to reproduce the error is like providing electricity with a path-of-least-resistance.


Tom Richards
September 13, 2011 8:52 AM

Well said Leo! There are a number of things that I personally do not like about Windows Live Mail. Are these "bugs" or are they "by design"? The only thing for certain is that they are "issues".
And Micriosoft/WLM does provide the means to send "feedback", so if one has an issue, let them know, be specific, and most importantly, be polite.
Leo - thanks for your insite.

Craig Chatterton
September 13, 2011 8:57 AM

As a Software Developer myself, my favorite maxim is this:


Pick two.


Elmer Blythe
September 13, 2011 9:07 AM

What you have so eloquently said about Microsoft, software and computers, can also be said about a lot of things in our modern life.

Also it may have been the way the software, or operating system was designed to operate and because of poor understanding or improper communication between software or hardware manufacturer and end user, it is perceived as a bug.

Put things in their proper perspective by asking if anybody would give a damn about the problem you are experiencing a 100 years from now.

September 13, 2011 9:10 AM

@Tom: That may be an Outlook bug. I don't pretend to know all of the details of Windows Update and Outlook, but generally, when a computer shuts down, it sends a signal to the applications saying "You need to close". However it is up to the application to actually listen to the signal and close.

If the application fails to close, the computer will still shut down, therefore crashing the program.

September 13, 2011 10:47 AM

Many other Will not, but I feel this is an exellent article on a difficult issue. I'm a linux user and trying to make things work has given me a new scope on really how complicated is to make a program work well, let alone an OS. I think you have nailed the issue in its right measure. Congratulations.

Nick Lesage
September 13, 2011 10:49 AM

A very intelligent and temperate comment. Like some of your other commentators I have written software (on and off since 1967, in my case), and know how hard it is to get it bug free even for a stand-alone application. One sees rants from people who cannot even spell: they would fail dismally in writing software, where such a simple error as a misplaced space may prevent correct execution. But, sadly, such folk will never read your comment.

September 13, 2011 12:01 PM

I won't pick on MS, specifically, although that's where I've always heard this response: "Gee, that's the first time we've heard of it," as it's my 5th call about it in a little over a year. Still, I've resigned myself to the PC truism:
"A Feature is just a bug with seniority."

September 13, 2011 1:51 PM

I appreciate the even-handed approach you applied here and in general. However, I would add a couple of things. First, there is nowhere else in our lives where we are told to "turn it off and turn it on again and that should fix the problem." Simple? Yes. Cheap to MS? Yes. Appropriate? Like I said, "Nowhere else..." Second, as a software engineer for more than 35 years I know there is no excuse for the lives spent, daily (multiply errors times your 1 billion installs), trying to resolve MS problems. The complexity is a design decision by MS, the errors too often a function of faulty QA. Having been the designer of a highly complex 1,000,000+ lines of code application which had 2 superficial errors at implementation (the same programmer misplaced 2 items on a report), I know what can be done. Sending anyone to Apple or Linux is insulting. Monopolies are monopolies, MS being perhaps the largest at this time. You emphasize they try to do it right. Really? And what is their motivation? More sales? Competition? Law suits? They're just really nice guys? Without motive, it doesn't happen. I contend the truth is far more in the middle between your description and the "extreme position" than you suggest.

John H
September 13, 2011 6:07 PM

Good article Leo
I have felt unwillingly chained to Microsoft because I could not find a suitable Linux CAD program.

Windows 7 came out and revived some of my old PCs. It also came with a family pack licensing. YAY!

Look at the privacy and tracking policies with Google. Learn about the for profit corporation hiding behind the Mozilla Non profit corporation. I have a lot more respect for Microsoft these days.

Ubuntu is now ready for prime time. I see on some web posts that a version of DesignCAD will run gold on Wine. But I have yet to find an article that will explain Linux file structures and terminology so I can transition. I wonder whose mind I am expected to read. I'm trying to run a business not be a computer geek. I think I will stay with Windows a while longer.

Of all the new toys coming out, none have a Windows OS. Hopefully this new competition will cause MS to improve quality even more.

September 13, 2011 7:44 PM

A most sensible and intelligent article, as Leo said, bug-free software really doesn't exist, anyone who has even the smallest experience with computer programming (6 months of a university degree for me personally) should realise just how complicated computer programming and testing is, unfortunately that only accounts for a fairly small amount of computer users so the rest of you need to rely on experts like Leo for accurate and (relatively) easy to understand information on these issues. Also remember that Windows Update and the Service Packs will sometimes fix bugs, although the Patch Tuesday download is mostly concerned with anything that impacts on security, understandably.

Trying to track down the source of any PC problem related to software can be an absolute nightmare, even for experts, so please cut Microsoft and all the other software developers a bit of slack here. I've been using Windows since version 3.1 and, even with all its faults (Windows 7 has been a HUGE improvement in this respect), I would not swap it for a different operating system if you paid me. Linux isn't suitable for me as I'm a heavy computer user and the sheer amount of work involved in getting everything I use to work with it puts me off. I wouldn't touch Apple because I detest everything they stand for, but that is a personal opinion.

I find it staggering to believe people actually blame Bill Gates for their problems, use a bit of common sense here people and also look closer to home for solutions before blaming Microsoft/Apple/whoever for your software issues.

Dave Gomberg
September 13, 2011 8:32 PM

You wrote: There's absolutely no such thing as bug-free software. Period.

This is wrong. I wrote a language processor (actually an interpreter for the CAI language PILOT) that ran on the Commodore PET that never had a reported bug in all the copies shipped. It is my conclusion that it had in fact NO BUGS. Of course, it helped that Bill Gates personally helped me with the implementation.

September 13, 2011 9:45 PM

What an article Leo! The approach is awesome. You wrote it by wearing the software manufacturing people shoes.

September 13, 2011 10:37 PM

Thank You Leo! The article is definitely good and balanced. It is a fact that people always assume 'indifference and callousness' on the part of the provider whenever any product/service causes a problem. Apart from involvement of other products in problems, they never consider the possibility of their own ignorance/abuse/zero-maintenance while using the product /service. Nor do they search for a solution through help resources, but just accuse the manufacturer. This is true as much as the existence of manufacturing defects.

I'm also in software field, though not as a programmer, I could easily see why the software can never be perfect. Yes, even after fixing all the bugs in course of time. For the simple reason being that no body can cover all the 'creative' ways and circumstances in which the user carries out tasks! As a thump rule, many people want to do the same task in their own way, ignoring the software devised ways. They do not realize that one has to work according to the route imposed by the software, as much as any one has to do for any machine. This inconvenience can be minimized but can not be eliminated.

I also find many people are biased against Gates, just because he earns stupendously huge money.

September 13, 2011 11:19 PM

I agree with pretty much everything you've said, and with the other comments, well said.

Another quote I like to use is "It's a Feature, not a bug!". Quite often what we as users Think is a bug is actually working exactly as they designed it to. It is a FAD, "Failing as Designed".

I've worked on systems as large as Windows, 20m + lines of code. The thing is, it is very easy to have unexpected interactions. You write the code following one chain of logic, then something happens and triggers another chain of logic, with bad results.

As a programmer, one of the things that never cease to surprise me is the things that users do "to" my code. Because they are not "computer" people they view applications differently than I do. They do unexpected things. And if I am not a good enough programmer to handle those unexpected things, the program will crash. But it also means that when I'm testing, I often simply don't think of testing for those "unexpected" user actions.

I'll take minor issue with the "no error free code". I believe that NASA achieved that goal in the 60's and 70's. I once read that to do the testing, documentation and general quality control meant that the Apollo and Shuttle code cost around 1,000 US "1960's" Dollars per line of code. The retirement of the Shuttles took their 5 times redundant IBM 360 mainframe computers into retirement too. It is totally amazing that they were able to take us into space using KB rather than GB of RAM.

September 13, 2011 11:31 PM

Great article, Leo, I’m grateful for it. Talking about Linux as an alternative for Windows. I was curious at some point and decided to install the system on my old pc (a P4 to be used as a modest media player). I had hooked it up to my TV-set, but Linux did not recognize this monitor type, and so I had to give up. That’s just one of the major hurdles you have to take if you want to use Linux. It’s basically a DIY system, probably in the first place meant for users who grew up in the nostalgic days of DOS. With Windows I have no problem whatever I hook up.

September 14, 2011 2:32 AM

Very nice article Leo. I have worked in Operating System development for mainframes during 35 years. My experience is that real bugs get fixed asap. But anything that is a matter of personal preference does most likely not get addressed.

September 14, 2011 7:14 AM

I have given up actively plotting against Hewlett Packard for Absolutely The Worst Bug Ever In An Add-On. Many thousands were and are affected but I now realize it was not cost effective for them to fix it and they wouldn't let anyone else have a go at it. Still will never buy or use HP if there is any alternative.

Ken in San Jose
September 17, 2011 9:39 PM

" I'll take minor issue with the "no error free code". I believe that NASA achieved that goal in the 60's and 70's."
I believe NASA had a Mars probe that crashed because of a mess up between converting feet to meters. So much for perfect!

After getting an AS in computers I got a temp job as a computer operator. In the 3 months I had the job, almost every day had something crash, either hardware or software. There were programs that had run fine for years that crashed because some user entered something in a way the programmers had not thought to check for. After that experience I decided I would rather be on the user side of computers than the programmer/operator side of computers. And have been happy with my decision every day since.
A programming instructor in school had the saying "There are no programs without bugs, just bugs that haven't been found yet."

October 14, 2011 7:59 AM

The real problem here is the complexity that makes bugs inevitable. There ARE ways to fix this but it will mean giving something up. Like speed. Given the present consumer market that will never happen unless the government requires it.

Bernard Liengme
October 14, 2011 8:03 AM

Read the article but am I blind? I cannot see what the bug is!

It's not talking about a specific bug, but rather the general concept of why a bug that might seem ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE to you, or to me or to someone else might never get fixed.

October 14, 2011 8:45 AM

To me, and most people, bug fall into a few categories. 1) OS Crashes e.g. (Blue Screen of death) 2) Application Crashes (e.g. IE Freezing up or an application ABENDING) 3) Slow Death of the system (e.g. Memory leaks, etc...) and 4) Security leaks (probably the most significant). Sometimes I feel that in the rush to market, even though it seems to take quite long, SW vendors, in general to not thoroughly test their code, sometime I wonder if its tested at all. Sadly this happens all to often, because even simple things, that occur all the time don't work and crash. IE is like opening the door to Viruses, I have plenty of examples.

October 14, 2011 8:45 AM

What is the bug, please??? I may be as blind as Mr. Bernard... Thank you for wasting my time...

It's not talking about a specific bug, but rather the general concept of why a bug that might seem ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE to you, or to me or to someone else might never get fixed.

October 14, 2011 8:49 AM

I sure wish you would have included Linix and Mac in this article. They can be buggy too. It seems you enjoyed picking on Microsoft, but they aren't the only one with problems.
All software has one big bug the user; I think you forgot that. I always say garbage in, garbage out.

October 14, 2011 9:07 AM

I'm with Bernard and Shadowman. I read every comment and was still left wondering... What the heck is "The Worst Bug Ever"? (Leo, asking you to recover lost passwords, lmao, isn't a bug... it's a pest! LOL) Good article! Now, what's the bug? :D

It's not talking about a specific bug, but rather the general concept of why a bug that might seem ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE to you, or to me or to someone else might never get fixed.

October 14, 2011 9:42 AM

Hey guys... it's a hypothetical bug. There is no "worst bug ever" going around. Re-read the first paragraph where Leo explains that this is a composite question of stuff he gets all the time. :)

October 14, 2011 9:54 AM

Wow, a lot of nothing here. You sure know how to use a lot of words to say nothing. I'm always amazed at how you guys can make something out of nothing. Oh yea, Microsoft has problems, but what bug?
I was looking for some information on a potential virus issue or significant bug but ... nothing, I guess you write just to write.

It's not talking about a specific bug, but rather the general concept of why a bug that might seem ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE to you, or to me or to someone else might never get fixed.

October 14, 2011 10:00 AM

This was as informative as telling me we have a one term pres. and don't worry about it, we can fix it. Well as others have said, "WHAT IS THE BUG YOUR TALKING ABOUT" Hell MS is so bad I've stuck with XP cause I basicly know it's issues.
Let's see, my Home made POS locks up, slows down, does not like certian web sites-we know why. So What are you pointing out?
BTW, this article did fill a void in space. whew.

It's not talking about a specific bug, but rather the general concept of why a bug that might seem ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE to you, or to me or to someone else might never get fixed.

October 14, 2011 10:48 AM

What a worthless article. And, as usual, the title was misleading, causing me to read the article.

October 14, 2011 11:06 AM

Bla, bla, bla, read all, and don't understand anything. What BIG bug???

October 14, 2011 11:24 AM

An interesting article about computer "bugs". And very true. IT should help enlighten many people. However, I find that if one checks with microsoft on line for a solution first, and if MS does not have one, then by simply going directly to the vendor, most problems (BUGS) can be resolved. Sometimes, even when I update a vendors current program, or install a new one, some wierd thing occurs. I think of them more as "glitches" than "bugs" or "viruses". However, the point is I first check with MS on line when, and if, the little message pops up about ..."check for a solution on line" then, if thatmessage does not appear or if MS fails to resolve anything I always go to the program manufacture customer service or technical service department, and advise them of the problem that I experienced, and ask them to help. It is important to give them as much detail about the problem as possible. (including your system data and OS) It may be resolved with one contact, or many. (they usually will grant free technical service via email; sometimes even by phone.) While it is often frustraating to have the problem at all; it is seldom that the vendor cannot help resolve the problem, particularly with a recent upgrade or program update. Sometimes, but seldom, the fix has been to simply reboot the computer before the new upddate will work, other times it required the vendor getting more and more data from me to find and correct their "Glitch" and longer to wait while they revise their program. And on rare occassion I sometimes find a way around the problem or a solution on my own. The point being, if there is a problem, see if microsoft can suggest a solution on line (sometimes microsoft has a solutuion and the vendor does not. For instance: I found this true with old win xp printers that needed new Win 7 drivers . The OEM's new Win 7 drivers for the old printers (and scanners) simply did not work, but microsoft had a driver that did) If mircrosoft does not have a solution, go to the software vendor. And don't forget, if anyone is like myself, sometimes, it's simply "operator problems". At worst case, the vendor has moved on and simply will not spend any time or money on old software (or hardware) "bugs" or "fixes" and simply generates a newer version that you must purchase. (Particularly true with devices that worked with old 1.0 usb connections.) Many vendors simply will not spend the money on any changes necessary to make the device work with newer USB 2.0 connections, or a combination of Win 7, and USB 2.0 connections. They prefer you purchase new equipment and software.

October 14, 2011 11:38 AM

Now that you have said a lot and said nothing about this bug you are supposed to be talking about, can you tell us readers what it is in less than 50 words. I do beleive that is possible.

It's not talking about a specific bug, but rather the general concept of why a bug that might seem ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE to you, or to me or to someone else might never get fixed.

October 14, 2011 11:57 AM

Wtf is this article about? Just went through the first paragraph and zoned out....

Daniel Loraditch
October 14, 2011 12:02 PM

Whenever trying to educate your reader(s) it's probably a good idea to clarify your opening statement. Especially when it is pointed slightly off your intended target.

The purpose of this article is to try to explain why it is, that many "bugs" are never/rarely fixed. Period.

A very good job, by Leo. Unfortunately some people don't get his drift.

Imagine the permutations. He has only touched the surface! After all the testing MS does there is still the issue of EVERY pc is unique! It's own peripherals, drivers, software, etc. etc. infinite combinations. 100% testing is impossible.

Before upgrading the user has some responsibilities.

Whenever possible it is best to experiment with a new OS on another PC. In fact MS has disclaimers, as all software vendors do, that any damage caused by installation of their product(s) is not there responsibility. ALL major businesses know this and adhere to strict company policies regarding upgrades.

October 14, 2011 12:09 PM

For all you overly-literal-minded people - he was speaking metaphorically.

If you don't know what it means, go look it up.

October 14, 2011 1:00 PM

This is not only true for software, but all other products of any kind. Immense marketing studies are done, complete statistical analysis of expected failure rate, etc. that go into bringing a product to market. The Zero one will dislike this or not one of these will fail is not a realistic entity. You simply cannot have perfection. Most, if not all, try to reach the unreachable to the point where it is still financially viable to do so.

Anita Handle
October 14, 2011 2:26 PM

I generally enjoy these kinds of articles but not this one. Half way through, I had kind of figured out there wasn't a real bug but felt I should read on. Seriously, I feel I wasted my time reading and responding to it.

Russell W. Coover
October 14, 2011 3:17 PM

Perhaps there should be a webpage for each application listing "bug"s that have been reported, the number of people reporting them, whether or not the "bug" is actually considered a bug or "feature", the disposition, if any, and whether or not someone was actually attempting to fix whatever the problem if there is one.

Paul G Ross
October 14, 2011 4:25 PM

I feel your title is a total mis-direction, generally, like other readers, I usually enjoy these kinds of articles but not this one. having waded myself through most of it I then realised there wasn't a specific at all, but never the less I read on. However, similar to other members, I also feel I wasted my time in both reading and responding to it.

Rev. C. R. Williams
October 14, 2011 4:44 PM

The Biggest Bug is the Internet...Stop and think!
What does Internet mean? Stuck on Stupid!!!
Enter The Net: Buy your ticket to the Concentration Camp: Don't try to understand GOD (Government Of Devils)...enough information...In Formation. Get in formation Sargent

Jim Anderson
October 14, 2011 5:48 PM

Your lengthy article is more or less a complaint about how big business treats their consumers? The title of your article is about bugs, at this point I believe the only relevant bug here is you being a bug to Microsoft. This article was more of a bait and switch, I feel ashamed to be someone who is a tech geek to know that you would write such drivel and have us believe that it was newsworthy. Shame on you.

October 14, 2011 7:27 PM

I thought it was more fun than usual from a mag author. All good points even if title shifts from body a bit. My main relief is no raving about some Bose Wave junk from a ZDNet author here cluttering my inbox. A bug's definition shouldn't be held in a small box. That's a bug of another sort.

Bob Booth
October 15, 2011 1:46 AM

I found the article very informative, particularly for those who haven't stopped to think about what a "bug" truly is and how difficult it is to fix one. All in all, "bug" fixes are all about the time and money it takes to even consider them, let alone, fix them. Unfortunately (or foutunately depending on which side of the coin you look at) money is what our economy is based on.

Mike Perry
October 15, 2011 4:42 AM

One of our biggest complaints is the way software vendors like Microsoft assume that everyone in the world does things the US way and uses US spelling and grammar - we don't. Why would I as a UK user want anything to do with US spell checking? I use Standard English, that is the English used throughout the UK, and never use any other spelling for English communications. But you can't have Office Word without the US spellings and dictionary that are a total waste of space for us outside of the USA. And Microsoft don't want to make it deselectable either! So we end up with incorrect spellings and grammar because some people fail to realise they are using the wrong spellchecker even if the correct one is installed! People seem to assume that a product bought in the UK onl has UK spelling but they are wrong.

R. Frank
October 15, 2011 9:49 AM

I felt like I was reading some kind of weird health or political article as I tried to pick out anything relevant from this article. Horrible written. Title not appropriate for the topic. If you want to talk about why bugs are difficult to fix name the article that and edit it to a reasonable length. I may not visit this site again because of this poor writing.

Clarke Waldron
October 15, 2011 11:50 AM

I am in complete agreement with you, sir. Those who nit-pick your article or lamblast it entirely are never going to be satisfied ny anyone or anything. Too bad.

Mostly, people do not appreciate the incredible complexities which occur within one piece of software and then how those multiply so gratly with each additional program added.

As it is, it's nearly miraculous that Windows works as well as it does. I know that "Linux is better" but Windows works for me.

Just keep me away from Vista... that's all.

October 15, 2011 12:02 PM

I'm not sure that the article was as lucid an explanation of the problem as it might have been but it did at least try to explain some of the reasons behind 'bugs' not being fixed quickly, if ever. My late wife was a software engineer of some renown, albeit on mainframes, and for the last decade or so was involved in Quality Assurance testing of customer problems. The priority of the problem was, as your article implied, directly related to the risk of loss of data, or financial loss, to the client. Simple hiccups with menus behaviour or GUI issues would rest on the back burner for years, while an obscure glitch (customer with five accounts - two regular saving, retirement, investment and checking, for instance, when trying to change interest rate on payments from investment to savings, experiences occasional mismatch of displayed and actual rate) would get immediate attention, but the occasional disappearing cursor would be ignored for ages.
Sorry guys, but just because you don't like the realities of commercial life is no reason to take umbrage with the guy who explains them to you. Some bugs just ain't worth the fixing - like the tire (or tyre on mine) on your car which goes soft over a three month period, it's easier to pump it up than try to find the leak.

October 15, 2011 1:45 PM

Despite your obtuse apologetics for Microsoft their philosophy can be summed up in the words of Mr Steve Ballmer- think of an idea, milk it as much as you can, think of another idea! This fits in well with the 'greed is good' ethos of the present times. Maybe time to think of another idea!

Terry Bishop
October 15, 2011 4:54 PM

So...what was THE BUG? I seemed to have missed that part!

To quote the fifth paragraph of my response: "Important: There seems to be a fair amount of confusion. I'm not talking about a specific bug. I get people coming to me all the time saying that they don't understand why this bug that they've encountered hasn't been fixed, and how they believe it's the Most Important Bug Ever. This article discusses why the bug that they're experiencing might never be fixed."
October 15, 2011 10:38 PM

Leo for president.

October 16, 2011 2:17 AM

Ive never had any trouble with old WinXP and now Win7 .. so where's the horrible bug ? Nothing is perfect in this imperfect what ? !!

Ron Smith
October 16, 2011 12:26 PM

Very poor writing, wrote a lot informed nothing. You should state what your specific topic is and discuss it. Reading this was a waste of time and I will never read another article of yours again!

Dorothy Reilly
October 19, 2011 4:23 PM

I started as a software developer in 1962 for large custom systems for the military. You gave an excellent summary of what goes into developing, testing a release, and deciding when it should be released. Bravo!

October 22, 2011 7:56 AM

I agree with Ron Smith - this entire article was in fact, much ado about nothing! Shame on you Leo for wasting everyone's time with this non-starter!

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