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Big Challenges for Vista Bug Hunters 213

The New York Times is reporting on the final rush to bug fix Windows Vista. Even with massive numbers of testers and five years of work behind them, the folks in Redmond are pushing it to the wire in order to make sure it releases soon. From the article: "Vista has also been tested extensively. More than half a million computer users have installed Vista test software, and 450,000 of the systems have sent crash data back to Microsoft. Such data supplements the company's own testing in a center for Office referred to as the Big Button Room, for the array of switches, lights and other apparatus that fill the space. (A similar Vista room has a less interesting name -- Windows Test Technologies.) This is where special software automatically exercises programs rapidly while looking for errors."
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Big Challenges for Vista Bug Hunters

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  • Re:Time (Score:5, Informative)

    by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @07:20AM (#16362255)
    Further delay aint happening. Vista will be out the door, regardless of the remaining bugs. They still have 'patch tuesday' to make updates, and the installation sequence itself already includes an initial update phase. So any really big bugs that remain present in the RTM build can still be fixed later.
  • Re:FUD? (Score:2, Informative)

    by nstlgc ( 945418 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @07:54AM (#16362479)
    IIRC it's the monitoring room for the Office Crash Assistant, the place where you send your data to after you crash. They analyse this data attempting to find patterns that lead to crashes. (I'm not sure how good this helps Office, but for Windows itself it's an excellent tool to find broken driver releases.)
  • Ignorant (Score:3, Informative)

    by rbarreira ( 836272 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @08:30AM (#16362757) Homepage
    You're ignorant. From your post, it seems you think that the crashes were OS crashes, which is not true. Most (or all?) of the crash information is about applications crashing, not the whole OS. Any application, not just OS code or Microsoft apps.

    It's more akin to you turning on your TV and finding out that your channels suck.
  • by ookaze ( 227977 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @08:32AM (#16362779) Homepage
    Hardware is almost required to debug some low-level system code. Real-time stuff, like device drivers and scheduler really requires hardware tracer to determine what happened and when

    Huh ? This is called a serial console terminal, and I wouldn't call a terminal a 'hardware tracer'. Other OS just use a serial console to debug device drivers and scheduler, with most debugging done in software.

    With XP, almost all of the crashes are due to bad (usually non-MS) device drivers. If you run a system with pure MS drivers and quality hardware you'll never see a BSOD

    BS ! I've had a (documented on MS bugs site) BSOD just after install with WinXP for my Adaptec card, and not a cheap one.
    Unfortunately, the WinXP native drivers caused the BSOD, I even had to install Linux on the PC (which worked perfectly) to be able to install the driver from the vendor instead of the MS one, so that WinXP don't crash anymore.
    Unless you tell me Adaptec are not quality hardware (the card bought in 1999 is still working great BTW, and was not crashing in Win9x).

    If you run the usual business suite of software (Office, Outlook, IE) you probably never see an application crash

    No, but I've lost complete big documents because of Word (he couldn't read its own saved files, thankfully I have OOo now, that saved me several times already), I won't even talk about IE.

    It's the crappy hardware and badly written drivers that cause the crashes. That's the difference with Apple.... since they control the hardware there's less crashes due to bad hardware and there are fewer third-party drivers for Mac hardware. The software is probably the same quality

    In my case, I know that's complete BS (that crappy hardware causes the crashes), as I've run Linux on the same hardware as my only Windows client.
    And while the Linux tagged along just fine for weeks, the WinXP couldn't last more than a week without locking up or becoming unusable.
    Is it really badly written drivers or crappy OS ? I had an old Creative Live ! card that was dying (and finally died).
    WinXP was BSODing regularly when it was dying, then when it died, just BSOD at every boot. I then installed Linux on the PC, and it just tagged along, never crashed, telling me it couldn't initialise the driver, the driver saying it couldn't initialise the card.
  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @08:56AM (#16362949)
    That sounds like a thermal problem. Have you tried opening the case and cleaning the air vents, and making sure the fans are all working properly?
  • Re:special software (Score:5, Informative)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @09:38AM (#16363347)
    I know a guy who used to work on test suites at Microsoft who has since quit, given their awful attitude towards bugs in Vista, and got a Mac

    You'll see this kind of attitude in every bigger software company. I've had personal experiences like this in Adobe and Macromedia with their flagship products. Features are dropped, specs constantly changing and inconsistent between teams.

    In some cases, you can spot the same feature implemented twice in source, with different interfaces, in different locations, and code linking randomly to one or the other, or even both (imagine updating this).

    The bugs to be fixed are selected first for how obvious they are (likely to occur) and not how critical they are. This is why it's common that bugs that can totally wreck operation and lead to data loss may be left, if the occurence is rare or unlikely.

    Everybody is in stress and the main goal is that you get the reviewed bug off your shoulders: if it's mildly reminiscent to something else, it's marked duplicate. If you can't reproduce it quickly, it's marked as fixed or not reproducible. Tricky bugs are marked "fact of life" or "deffered".

    Successful companies and their products grow, but the way the products and resources are managed does not scale. Instead, programmers are expected to churn a major release every X months, screw everything else, and keep the cash flowing, the investors happy.

    With Windows, we have a successful product that supports a huge ecosystem of applications (including legacy support), localization, usage cases etc. It's natural that in time, updates will become more rare, and will be much slower and more expensive to produce.

    The trend of software-as-a-service is not coincidental with this situation. In 5 to 10 years the base software we use might be so complex and tough to work on, that the only way it can be sustained is by small, regular payments, and the updates will be small, incremental, security/performance oriented. No more big releases, no more rushes to fix bugs in the last moment.

    This is the way evolution works. The other route is, of course, revolution...
  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @10:38AM (#16363947) Homepage Journal
    With XP, almost all of the crashes are due to bad (usually non-MS) device drivers. If you run a system with pure MS drivers and quality hardware you'll never see a BSOD.

    I just had XP not merely BSOD, but destroy itself so it wouldn't boot any more, after I installed a set of Microsoft security updates.

    It was using no 3rd party drivers, and it wasn't a hardware problem because I was running it under VMware and other Windows images continued to run just fine.

  • Re:Time (Score:2, Informative)

    by mackyrae ( 999347 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @11:30AM (#16364717) Homepage
    XP is going really cheap now. I think one of my friends got it for $80 or something. With Vista about to be released, they're trying to get the old XP backstock out the door. Just buy your XP disks now and hold them until the quads come out.

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?