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Microsoft reassures its testers that it is carefully considering their feedback

Ever since Microsoft released the beta of its upcoming Windows 7 to the general public, hundreds of thousands of users have downloaded the OS.  Many took the time to carefully sweep the system, scanning for defects or bugs.  As a result, Microsoft has been receiving a steady stream of information from beta testers.  Many testers of late, though, have become disgruntled as Microsoft has offered little in the way of official communication about the problems its testers were reporting.

However, Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president for the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, has broken the silence at last, saying that Microsoft has indeed been listening and has fixes planned for over 2,000 bugs found by testers.

Mr. Sinofsky writes that at its peak, Microsoft was receiving one Send Feedback report every 15 seconds for an entire week.  It has received 500,000 feedback reports already -- approximately 500 per developer, part of why it has been too busy to say much.  Microsoft also thanks its Connect members (the MSDN/Technet enrolled beta customers) for sending in numerous technical reports.  Both the public and the Connect feedback has helped more bugs be found and fixed than in any previous Windows release, Mr. Sinofsky states.

Mr. Sinofsky shed light on Microsoft's definition of a bug as well, stating:

Let's talk a bit about "bugs". Up front it is worth making sure we're on the same page when we use the much overloaded term bug. For us a bug is any time the software does something that someone one wasn't expecting it to do. A bug can be a cosmetic issue, a consistency issue, a crash, a hang, a failure to succeed, a confusing user experience, a compatibility issue, a missing feature, or any one of dozens of different ways that the software can behave in a way that isn't expected. A bug for us is not an emotional term, but just shorthand for an entry in our database representing feedback on the product. Bugs can be reported by a human or by the various forms of telemetry built into Windows 7. This broad definition allows us to track and catalog everything experienced in the product and do so in a uniform manner.

Hardware support is also doing quite well for the new operating system.  Microsoft has recorded 10 million device installations, and the use of around 2.8M unique plug-and-play device identifiers.  Of the hardware used, over 75 percent of it worked with the system's prepackaged drivers, writes Mr. Sinofsky.  He says that virtually all of the remaining hardware was easily support via driver downloads from Windows Update or by direct links to the manufacturer's web site.

Even some critics who were incensed at Microsoft's lack of communications have been warmed up by Mr. Sinofsky.  Chris Holmes of the blog GeekSmack recently had written, "I know I drifted off into a bit of a rant ... and hopefully this feedback is taken seriously by the Windows team (hey, there's a chance, it's not like we're dealing with the Windows Live team, those people don't know the meaning of the word feedback)."

However, after a personal email from Mr. Sinofsky, his feelings softened.  He states, "I honestly was not expecting a reply as I understand that Steven is undoubtedly a very busy man. But when I checked my in-box a few hours later, not only did he respond, but he did a very good job explaining his position and why the interim builds were not a good option for this release cycle."

While Mr. Sinofsky's metrics and comments surely won't placate all the disgruntled testers out there, it certainly seems a positive direction from Microsoft. 

Microsoft has recently become less stubborn and has become more receptive to feedback, after having long gone its own way.  For example, when a major security flaw was found in the UAC, a critical Windows 7 and Windows Vista component, Microsoft initially refused to change it.  However, it then quickly turned around, swallowing its pride and admitting to its mistake.  The UAC fix is among the many flaws and bugs the team will have fixed for the release of Windows later this year.

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By fictisiousname on 2/26/2009 10:39:53 AM , Rating: -1
Smooth install on a 3 yo system and user interface was..well..M$.

What I DIDN'T like was that it made too many decisions for me and would fight me if I wanted to change some parameters.
Perhaps this aspect will be included in the 2K bugs? Who knows. But I have no intention in repeating a reluctance to move on to Win7 as I did when XP came out. (yes, I was one of "THOSE")

By ChronoReverse on 2/26/2009 12:33:16 PM , Rating: 5
They usually do.

For instance, the universal outrage against UAC is ridiculous since you can just turn it right off and then tell Windows now to bug you about it.

By TomZ on 2/26/2009 12:50:48 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, UAC is a red herring. Even when it's turned on, it comes up so infrequently that it is not really a problem.

By walk2k on 2/26/2009 1:00:25 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe for you it does, for me it was throwing up TWO popups every time I booted up, and again every time I ran a couple of my favorite games.

Now you can place the blame on software vendors if you want, but to the end user it doesn't matter. All MS has to do is add the common "don't ask me again for this program" that every other security/firewall and even their own IE does, but for some reason they can't, or won't.

UAC is actually MORE dangerous when left on, since it trains users to ignore warnings and popups and just click OK as fast as they can.

By rdeegvainl on 2/26/2009 1:33:27 PM , Rating: 3
users were already "trained" to just click next next ok yes, since the days of win 95

By omnicronx on 2/26/2009 1:33:53 PM , Rating: 2
All MS has to do is add the common "don't ask me again for this program" that every other security/firewall and even their own IE does, but for some reason they can't, or won't.
Obviously you havn't used Windows 7, as this is one of the 4 UAC settings, and is part of the default setting.

By walk2k on 2/26/2009 10:18:31 PM , Rating: 2
What? No it isn't. I'm using Windows 7 right now. There is no such setting.

By Reclaimer77 on 2/26/2009 4:46:06 PM , Rating: 4
Agreed, UAC is a red herring. Even when it's turned on, it comes up so infrequently that it is not really a problem.

I rather click a UAC dialog box once in a while then deal with Linux bugging me for my freaking admin password all the time.

By atlmann10 on 2/26/2009 12:45:02 PM , Rating: 5
To start with I think MS is learning a few things. With the beta released and being used as it is I believe is very positive. Take a point from Mozilla, which has steadily been gaining support and users for years now. When you run something and allow feedback "and user customization" the platform will grow in many cases immensely. I am not criticizing MS here I think they did the right thing with this pre-release of 7.

For one thing it looks like waiting for SP1 and SP2 will most likely be done before it ever is officially released. Meaning it should be stable and well performing from the start. Believe me I have beta'd every op sys from MS since 98SE, and used widows actively since 3.1. The way they are handling this one is much better than anything I have seen to date.

Another thing I am a true multi purpose user. I use my computers (3 right now) for educational, communications, banking, shopping, photo manipulation, sound playing and manipulation, Gaming, Research, Minor professional writing and just about everything else they can be used for.

I imagine there are many users like me on here, so them listening to there customers this way is very productive. Oh and by the way I on 3 pc's I use XP and Vista 32 & 64 bit with 7 as a secondary op sys. So the interaction between the 4 is great, but the networking is above all windows versions as for ease of use and functionality so far. There are many other things that also eases co-communication between all the version I use.

By StevoLincolnite on 2/26/2009 12:33:57 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't noticed any "Decisions" that Windows 7 made for me during normal operating procedures, Then again I disabled UAC as well.

I have been using Windows 7 for the last several months, it's stable, it's more efficient than Vista, the GUI is pleasing to the eye, driver and software compatibility is great even though it's in a Beta stage, once the OS is released I'll be one of the first buyers in-line, much like Halo Wars when it was released here today in Australia.

When Windows XP was released most people were using a Win9x based operating system, which at that time allot of software had issues with the NT based operating systems.

This isn't going to be another repeat of that debacle, nor will it be a repeat of the Vista debacle, it will be more like the upgrade that we did years ago when we moved from Windows 95 to Windows 98.

By The0ne on 2/26/2009 1:19:22 PM , Rating: 2
After running and testing Win7 myself I'm on the boat to grab it when it comes out. I like it. It's lean, efficient at handling files, less annoying, and on and on. Although not a major leap really, it's enough to warrant the move from XP.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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