Post by Dirk Bruere at NeoPax
From the users POV the best thing they could do is not release
the next OS until they get it right. REALLY get it right.
That won't happen. Users only buy upgrades in the vain hope that the
next release will fix the bugs of the current version. Of course that
never happens because features and functions are added faster than
bugs get fixed. There's always hope, but it never seems to happen.
If Microsoft actually did release something that was bug free, nobody
would upgrade to subsequent versions, resulting in a predictable
revenue loss. Therefore, it is beneficial to Microsoft (and other
software vendors) to intentionally leave a few major bugs in their
1. It takes 18 months from initial release for a major software
product to be worth buying. Microsoft seems to take a bit longer at
about 24 months.
2. Subsequent upgrades add bloat, fix a few old bugs, add more bugs,
slow down the machine, and require additional RAM and diskspace.
3. After about 3-5 years, the products usually stabilize into a
consistent level of mediocrity. The product doesn't really get
better, but the customers learn to tolerate its idiosyncrasies and
bugs. If left alone, the customers get very comfortable with the
product and refuse to tolerate any further changes. This is bad for
selling updates, so new bugs, instabilities, and performance issues
need to be introduced in the latest updates, to inspire such
conservative customers to update.
I would add that, in order to further discourage customers who
refuse to pour more money into "upgrades", Microsoft mixes
together must-have security fixes with updates that are designed
to drive the customer to a newer version, mixing them together
with almost identical descriptions. Later, they announce an
end of support so that, for example, a security flaw in code
that is shared by Windows 2000 and Windows XP only gets patched
for the Windows XP users. In the Linux world, a patch is made
available to all versions that share code, even if the code has
not changed since version 1.0.
Here is Bill Gates himself, confirming that what you describe as...
"Users only buy upgrades in the vain hope that the next
release will fix the bugs of the current version. Of
course that never happens because features and functions
are added faster than bugs get fixed. There's always hope,
but it never seems to happen."
...is a deliberate business decision.
FOCUS Magazine Interview with Bill Gates:
Microsoft Code Has No Bugs (that Microsoft cares about)
In this interview, Big Bill gets distracted and reveals his
contempt for you, his loyal customer.
In an interview for German weekly magazine FOCUS (nr. 43,
October 23, 1995, pages 206-212), Microsoft`s Mr. Bill
Gates has made some statements about software quality of
MS products. [See executive summary, below.] After lengthy
inquiries about how PCs should and could be used (including
some angry comments on some questions which Mr. Gates
evidently did not like), the interviewer comes to storage
requirements of MS products; it ends with the following
Every new release of a software which has less bugs than the
older one is also more complex and has more features...
No, only if that is what will sell!
Only if that is what will sell! We've never done a piece
of software unless we thought it would sell. That's why
everything we do in software ... it's really amazing: We do
it because we think that's what customers want. That's why
we do what we do.
But on the other hand - you would say: Okay, folks, if you
don't like these new features, stay with the old version,
and keep the bugs?
No! We have lots and lots of competitors. The new version --
it's not there to fix bugs. That's not the reason we come up
with a new version.
But there are bugs an any version which people would really
like to have fixed.
No! There are no significant bugs in our released software
that any significant number of users want fixed.
Oh, my God. I always get mad at my computer if MS Word
swallows the page numbers of a document which I printed a
couple of times with page numbers. If I complain to anybody
they say "Well, upgrade from version 5.11 to 6.0."
No! If you really think there's a bug you should report a
bug. Maybe you're not using it properly. Have you ever
Yeah, I did...
It turns out Luddites don't know how to use software
properly, so you should look into that. -- The reason we
come up with new versions is not to fix bugs. It's
absolutely not. It's the stupidest reason to buy a new
version I ever heard. When we do a new version we put in
lots of new things that people are asking for. And so, in no
sense, is stability a reason to move to a new version. It's
never a reason.
How come I keep being told by computer vendors "Well, we
know about this bug, wait till the next version is there,
it'll be fixed?" I hear this all the time. How come? If
you're telling me there are no significant bugs in software
and there is no reason to do a new version?
No. I'm saying: We don't do a new version to fix bugs. We
don't. Not enough people would buy it. You can take a
hundred people using Microsoft Word. Call them up and say
"Would you buy a new version because of bugs?" You won't get
a single person to say they'd buy a new version because of
bugs. We'd never be able to sell a release on that basis.
Probably you have other contacts to your software
developers. But if Mister Anybody, like me, calls up a store
or a support line and says, "Hey listen, there's a bug" ...
90 percent of the time I get the answer "Oh, well, yeah,
that's not too bad, wait to the next version and it'll be
fixed." That's how the system works.
Guess how much we spend on phone calls every year.
Hm, a couple of million dollars?
500 million dollars a year. We take every one of these phone
calls and classify them. That's the input we use to do the
next version. So it's like the worlds biggest feedback loop.
People call in -- we decide what to do on it. Do you want to
know what percentage of those phonecalls relates to bugs in
the software? Less than one percent.
So people call in to say "Hey listen, I would love to have
this and that feature?"
Actually, that's about five percent. Most of them call to
get advice on how to do a certain thing with the software.
That's the primary thing. We could have you sit and listen
to these phone calls. There are millions and millions of
them. It really isn't statistically significant. Sit in and
listen to Win 95 calls, sit in and listen to Word calls, and
wait, just wait for weeks and weeks for someone to call in
and say "Oh, I found a bug in this thing."...
So where does this common feeling of frustration come from
that unites all the PC users? Everybody experiences it every
day that these things simply don't work like they should.
Because it's cool. It's like, "Yeah, been there done that -
oh, yeah, I know that bug." - I can understand that
phenomenon sociologically, not technically.
* Bug reports are statistically, therefore actually,
* If you want a bug fixed, you are (by definition)
in the minority;
* Microsoft doesn't care about bugs because bug
fixes are not a significant source of revenue;
* If you think you found a bug, it really only
means you're incompetent;
* Anyway, people only complain about bugs to show how
cool they are, not because bugs cause any real problems.
Straight from the horse's mouth.