January 26, 2005 8:05 PM PST

MapPoint users in for long and winding road

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How eight pixels cost Microsoft millions

August 19, 2004
Norwegians might want to use a reality check before trusting directions from Microsoft's online MapPoint service.

A bug in Microsoft's MapPoint software sends those looking to travel between two Norwegian cities on a trip across much of Western Europe. The suggested quickest route between Haugesund and Trondheim is a 1,685-mile journey through Belgium, England, France, Germany and Sweden to make the journey. With two trips across the ocean and a fair bit of overland travel, the site estimates the journey will take some 47 hours and 31 minutes.


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The humorous glitch made the rounds on various blogs on Wednesday. Ultimately, Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble posted a blog item of his own, apologizing for the error and indicating that the company is working on a fix.

"I'm sorry about this, lots of people have reported this bug to the team and they are working on a fix," Scoble said on his blog. "I hear it'll come in February."

Although Microsoft is a very worldly company with offices across the globe, the world's largest software maker has been known to occasionally make a geographic error. In the original version of Windows 95, the world clock function showed only a portion of the disputed Kashmir region as being a part of India and the government threatened a ban. Microsoft recalled 200,000 copies, costing the company millions of dollars.

To avoid a repeat, Microsoft's no longer separates the world into countries within the clock, but the company has managed to make other cultural faux pas.

Because of a translation error, a version of Windows XP aimed at Latin American markets asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch." In another case, Microsoft used chanting of the Koran as background music for a computer game, prompting the Saudi Arabian government to ban the game.

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This confirms it...
Microsoft takes people for rides with crapware.
Posted by WarpKat (23 comments )
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What does one expect from MS?
...Products that work? I think not.
Posted by InsertBulletsHere (38 comments )
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Happens on US routes too
I reported a similar routing bug to Microsoft quite sometime ago (10/19/2004). The results weren't quite as spectacular as the story's, but it did add completely unnecessary distance to a route. No response, so here's the bug:

BUG: Mappoint 2004 Trip routing engine misroutes.
Try this: Set trip end to Evansville IL.
Set trip start to: 300 Kiefer Creek Rd, Ballwin MO.
Route plots properly, look at entry "Take ramp (RIGHT) onto I-64 [US-40]".
Now change start to 600 Kiefer Creek Rd.
It totally avoids the most obvious route onto I-64 (West I-64 and turn around).
Now change start to 800 St Paul Rd (just a little more south).
Now it does some other wacky route (Baxter).
In my testing I found the end point just needs to be at least 150-180mi away and east, but otherwise the specific location doesn't matter.
Also, I tried moving the end point west down I-44 and at about 134mi (just past exit 140) it switches to a very sub-optimal route adding over 25 miles to the trip.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Errors on translation
I've found errors on messenger too.

In the spanish version, for the Sun image, you can see it's name is "Dom" for the word "Sunday = Domingo" in place of "Sun = Sol".

I don't think they translate things after using it... they just take the strings and make the "better" translation possible.
Posted by (4 comments )
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Maps from microsoft?
Heck didnt Microsoft try making an operating system at one time too? Wasn't in called "Wunduhs" or somethin like that?
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
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Has happened before
A long time back this sort of thing was reported for results from Expedia too.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/99/Sep/expedia.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/99/Sep/expedia.html</a>

There were several reports of short trips all being directed through that Ferry in Newfoundland. A buddy's brother was directed on a 9 day trip (!) for what is a 1.5 hour drive.
Posted by WDS2 (183 comments )
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