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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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75% isn't very good
By walk2k on 2/26/2009 12:37:41 PM , Rating: 3
Of the hardware used, over 75 percent of it worked with the system's prepackaged drivers, writes Mr. Sinofsky
They will have to improve that percentage quite a lot before release. In my case it didn't detect my Nvidia card, onboard sound, and most importantly my LAN. So even though Windows update did have Nvidia and sound drivers, no LAN obviously made it impossible to connect to Windows update and download them...

Fortunately the Vista drivers worked and I had them on the installation CD that came with my computer, but I fear many people won't be so lucky to have install discs, or won't have the computer savvy to know to reach for them, and as such will be stuck with a completely useless Windows install (at least until they can borrow use of another computer and download drivers from the web).

RE: 75% isn't very good
By TomZ on 2/26/2009 12:53:15 PM , Rating: 1
Huh? Didn't detect your nVIDIA card? What card are you using?

You must be using either very old, or very new, hardware.

RE: 75% isn't very good
By walk2k on 2/26/2009 1:06:16 PM , Rating: 2

RE: 75% isn't very good
By omnicronx on 2/26/2009 1:42:03 PM , Rating: 1
Did you run windows update? Because I personally installed an Asus 8800GT on my friends computer last week and the driver was found immediately using windows update.

Either way, it could just be a bug, a 8800GT is a new enough card that windows should pick it up easily . In fact of the machines I have installed it on, none have forced me to get drivers from the manufacturer.

RE: 75% isn't very good
By JasonMick (blog) on 2/26/2009 3:45:36 PM , Rating: 4
Reread the op, he said he couldn't connect to the network, initially as his W7 install didn't have drivers for his LAN card.

I'm assuming after he installed the working Vista drivers, which he fortunately had, he was able to grab the 8800 GT drivers from Windows Update.

To the original OP:
What kind of network card were you using, out of curiosity? Your motherboard didn't come with onboard ethernet?

RE: 75% isn't very good
By walk2k on 2/26/2009 10:12:26 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I used the Vista drivers from the install CD for the LAN, as I mentioned. Then I was able to connect to WU and get the rest of the drivers. Point is, you can't do that if LAN doesn't install first....

The LAN is onboard, "Atheros AR8121/AR8113 PCI-E Ethernet Controller". Win7 didn't have a driver for it, didn't install one anyway.

I installed Win7 x64 if that makes a difference...

RE: 75% isn't very good
By Screwballl on 2/27/2009 11:01:32 AM , Rating: 2
What motherboard do you have? There are only a few older systems that I have found that it either doesn't see all the hardware (some AthlonXP or older systems) or refuses to install (like on my older HP ze4540).

I use the 8800GTS and it found the proper pre-release nvidia driver with no problems during the install process. There was an updated nvidia driver recently available through Windows update as well.

As for your Atheros, that is strange as it is a pretty popular LAN chip... I suspect Atheros did not release any W7 drivers to Microsoft by the time you installed it.

RE: 75% isn't very good
By omnicronx on 2/27/2009 11:41:04 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, I definitely lacked reading comprehension yesterday. (Sad part is I read the entire post, I wasn't just skimming) Sorry walk2k ;)

RE: 75% isn't very good
By DeepBlue1975 on 2/27/2009 6:55:44 AM , Rating: 2
Wierd at least

I have the same card and it worked right away and even suggested an update to download from the MS servers.

My only gripe with win7 right now, is that after installing the utilities that came with my camera, the OS could never start again. Seems it allowed incompatible components to be installed.
As soon as I reinstall the OS, I'll report this to MS.

The utility package said it didn't support 64 bit OSs, but I hoped it would allow me to run it in compatibility mode or simply refuse to install.

It even allowed me to install directx 9c, and I guess it shouldn't. :D

Other than that, been using it almost 24x7 without any problems and coming back to my main Vista Ultimate installation is a big turn off to say the least.

RE: 75% isn't very good
By TomZ on 2/27/2009 7:09:54 PM , Rating: 2
My only gripe with win7 right now, is that after installing the utilities that came with my camera, the OS could never start again. Seems it allowed incompatible components to be installed. As soon as I reinstall the OS, I'll report this to MS.
So you're one of those types that believes that Microsoft should take responsibility for any and all software that misbehaves on Windows, even if it most likely has nothing to do with the OS itself? Interesting...

RE: 75% isn't very good
By crimson117 on 3/1/2009 2:57:32 PM , Rating: 2
DirectX 9c is MS software.

And yes, I'd hope that Microsoft would have at least minimal protection from software that can completely disable their operating system. Especially when it's not an intentionally malicious virus but just an older set of camera drivers.

I suspect booting into Safe Mode and uninstalling the incompatible utilities / drivers would avoid having to reinstall the entire OS, though...

RE: 75% isn't very good
By Bonesdad on 2/27/2009 1:36:23 AM , Rating: 2
Had the same problem. I have an Abit IP35E with a Marvell Gigabit ethernet...W7 didn't recognize it. I was able to use the Vista driver downloaded from another PC. Then all was good.

RE: 75% isn't very good
By retrospooty on 2/27/2009 8:03:53 AM , Rating: 2
odd... I have a DFI with Marvel gbit ethernet and it did detect and install fine, 32 and later 64 bit both.

RE: 75% isn't very good
By ExarKun333 on 2/27/2009 8:17:03 AM , Rating: 2
Your point is moot. If someone isn't computer savvy enough to know how to install a driver, then I doubt they would be testing a beta OS. If they are, then they need to either learn quickly or find something else to do. Did you realize this is a beta OS and not a retail copy?

RE: 75% isn't very good
By Yawgm0th on 2/28/2009 12:04:25 AM , Rating: 2
His point was only that it would need to be better for release. Few are seriously complaining about the beta.

Regardless, few who are savvy enough to install a fresh OS can't also go get drivers. That's not the point. It's an inconvenience. Even most Linux distributions have >95% compatibility these days.

Besides, it can be a really big inconvenience, depending on the situation. If I put a fresh Vista or 7 install on a Dell laptop at work and a NIC or VGA adapter doesn't install, I might end up downloading 100 of MBs of drivers (Dell's fault, partially). That's not fun on a T1 shared amongst dozens of users.

When released, 7 will need to have at least 98% compatibility with recent hardware (let's say anything LGA775 or newer) or it might get the same early reception Vista got..

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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