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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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In the mean time
By crystal clear on 2/26/2009 12:27:53 PM , Rating: 2

Microsoft released a comprehensive update for Windows 7 Beta Tuesday aimed at plugging numerous compatibility and reliability holes in Internet Explorer 8.
The comprehensive update patches an array of stability problems that include crashes, hangs and memory issues on Windows 7 Beta caused by IE as well as third-party components such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat and others. The patch also fixes glitches in PDF file printing and includes a change that improves cookie management.

"We found that approximately 10 percent of customers who had downloaded the Windows 7 Beta had experienced some type of reliability problem in IE," said Herman Ng, Microsoft program manager, in an IE blog post. "We also found that a small number of users were experiencing crashes on a more regular basis and that about 1.5 percent of all Internet Explorer sessions had encountered a crash.";jsessionid=Y...

RE: In the mean time
By walk2k on 2/26/2009 12:53:02 PM , Rating: 2
I found a lot more problems with IE8 than anything else in Win7 actually. Most web pages - like 99% need to run in "compatibility mode" to display properly. Even then it has a bug where it squashes 1-2 lines of text per page. Crashes are more frequent, though the good news is it can often recover automatically.

At one point IE8 just completely stopped working. I had to dig around in the internet options and disable automatic configuration to get it working again.

I will say though the 64 bit version is VERY fast. It's just too bad that vendors are lagging behind with 64bit plugin support. Though actually browsing without Flash is nice sometimes since it removes a lot of those annoying animated ads.

RE: In the mean time
By TomZ on 2/26/2009 12:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
For me, IE8 works fine for 99% of web sites. I've only had to kick into compatibily mode a few times so far.

I've also had a lot of times where IE8 hoses up. But I believe that is related to the current version of the Adobe Flash player, because (a) I was seeing the same kinds of crashes in IE7 with the same version of Flash, and (b) if I disable Flash, I don't get any more crashes. Annoying.

RE: In the mean time
By 67STANG on 2/26/2009 11:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
Tried using on Google Maps? Horrible mess. Even Gmail has problems occassionally in IE8.

RE: In the mean time
By TomZ on 2/27/2009 8:47:52 AM , Rating: 2
That strange - I use Google Maps all the time in IE8 - no problems here.

RE: In the mean time
By crystal clear on 2/27/2009 7:27:43 AM , Rating: 2
Windows Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 Fact Sheet

RE: In the mean time
By crystal clear on 2/27/2009 7:15:58 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft Corp. today revealed some of the changes-36 of them, it has made to Windows 7 since it issued a public beta more than a month ago.

Some Changes Since Beta for the RC

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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