May 30, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

On the hunt for Vista bugs

When it comes to Windows Vista, there are bugs--and then there are bugs.

There is no doubt that people will find glitches in Beta 2 of the oft-delayed operating system. The question is whether there are any show-stoppers.

Microsoft has time to squish some bugs, but it needs to avoid any significant headaches if it is to make its revised goal of finishing the code by November and launching the product in January.

Already, there have been discussions of installation issues and assorted issues related to battery life, performance and application compatibility. But analysts say it's too soon to size up where Microsoft is at.

"At this point, I don't think we know enough about the bugs," Gartner analyst Michael Silver said.

But over the coming weeks, there is likely to be a lot more discussion of what works and what doesn't in the test version that Microsoft released last week. It should become particularly active as the company expands the number of testers into the millions of users.

The company already knows of some problems and expects others. Only about 40 percent of Windows XP applications can run without any modification, for example. A good chunk of the remainder require only very slight tweaks. Many of those incompatibilities have already been fixed, either through workarounds put in place by Microsoft or in collaboration with the application's maker.

There are still a number of hardware products that don't have drivers. Also, there are plenty of areas where Microsoft hopes to increase the system's performance, notably in the new built-in desktop search capabilities.

Microsoft executives in recent days have expressed optimism that they have made enough progress with Beta 2 to meet a tight deadline. However, CEO Steve Ballmer appeared to hedge his bets in a speech in Japan. Others have been even less optimistic. Research firm Gartner, for example, said it doesn't expect a release until the second quarter of next year, at the earliest.

reviews blog
Living with Vista Beta 2
CNET editors put the Windows update to work.

The company has enough time to fix the bugs it expects, Chris Jones, the Microsoft corporate vice president who heads up the Windows Client development effort, said in an interview. The key issue, though, is whether there are features that require any significant reworking.

"Then we would make a very hard decision," Jones said. At that point, the company would have to quickly ascertain whether the issue could be resolved in the remaining time. If not, it would likely have to either scrap the feature or delay Vista further.

That said, Jones said he believes that with all the testing Microsoft has done, the company would probably know if there were major clouds on the horizon. "I find it quite unlikely that we've missed one of those cases," he said.

Rough spots
The gray area comes if a certain feature works, but the experience isn't meeting users' expectations.

One of the potentially challenging new features is something called User Account Control. Basically, the security feature is designed to reduce the amount of time that Vista runs with full administrative privileges. Instead, the system runs with standard privileges and queries users for their password or OK when significant changes are being made.

Currently, though, such boxes are popping up rather frequently. Microsoft is working to tweak the rules and create workarounds. For example, many programs are set to check for updates whenever they run. So far, that check has required an administrative OK, but Microsoft is changing it so that existing applications will be able to update themselves in standard user mode.

See more CNET content tagged:
Chris Jones, bug, Gartner Inc., Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Corp.

53 comments

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How is this news???
Summary:

Beta software may contain bugs.
There is a tight deadline to fix them.
Beta 2 > Beta 1.


Wow. Great. must be slow this morning.
Posted by BlinkMM182 (63 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How is this news???
Summary:

Beta software may comtain bugs.
There is a tight deadline to fix bugs.
Old progrmans may break.
Beta 2 > Beta 1

wow what a concept!! news must be slow this morning.
Posted by BlinkMM182 (63 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry for double posting...
it said the 1st one didnt go through, oh well.
Posted by BlinkMM182 (63 comments )
Link Flag
still waiting
bugs or no bugs, when Vista comes out, im gonna get it. ive grown too used to XP it make me wanna cry. While mac users get a new os like every two years, us windows users sit here on aging code. but i do hope most of the kinks get worked out.
Posted by yottabyte21-208644521796496775 (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
bugs or no bugs, that is the question
If Vegas was giving odds, I'd bet "no bugs" would be a million to
one shot.

I'll be waiting until SP1, at least.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Do me a favor
Stop by an Apple store when you get the chance.

Play around with front row, keynote, pages, and iPhoto. You'll wonder why you stuck with XP for such a long time, and you'll have something to compare Vista to. I'm certain Vista won't be as nice, and Apple will have a NEW OS by then.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Link Flag
Thats okay Bill...
Oh! You are going to be late Bill? Can't bring your product to us today? Thats okay Mr.Gates, why don't you take a little more time off. It's okay, you see BOB from LINUX is with our computers right now. He came right in settled down and getting more work done in just a few days. As a matter of fact Bill why don't you take more time off, as a matter of fact why dont't you stay away till about December of 2007. You see I have BOB from Linux here taking your place during your absence and getting the job done.

Something confuses me though.

Bill Gates + Billions of dollers = No product

Hackers + A few bucks = Linux, Openoffice ect...

You do the math.
Posted by Ted Miller (305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Real Cost Of OS
Look i love Open Source products but Open Source does not necesarily mean free. Actually OS creates revenue with other assortments like service and installation, training as well plus most of these "free" projects are sponsored by huge coporations that buy small dev projects. Some remain truly small garage type projects but the absence of money directly (software) does not mean that it does not have value. Also while OS has many things that are nice there is also alot of crap, you have to look at it two ways is one that you are paying company but in that agreement comes a support clause. Remember time is money. Besides i have been testing OO and Office Together and while its almost a complete switch over there is still stuff that can not be done easily or take alot of fidgeting to get done. So whats worth more your time or the Office Product.

btw: I love open office but office 2007 is not bad either.

- Mike
Posted by mxrss (35 comments )
Link Flag
Article Root?
What's with the "article root" I see periodically?
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista Hacks
It's nice to know that with over 5 years of development, hacks or as MS calls it "shims" are still needed for some application to run.

That's just crazy.
Posted by mstrclark (62 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Shims? may as well be GOTO statments for all the stability they'll provide
Yup, five years of development, a hundred or more features discarded and now the programming quivalent to using a piece of scotch tape to fix your broken classes.

"Shims" they say. "Workarounds" they say. Now that's quality programming like using code line numbers and GOTO statements. How could it possibly go wrong.

At a time when the programming ideal is clean consise code, a "professional" development team is limited to jurry rigging patches?

What? The bolt that holds your left crutch together is missing? Here, wrap this scotch tape around it; it should stay together long enough to get a block or two away before it calapses under you. (and hey, as long as your out of our store when it breaks, it's all good.)

So to review:
- Opensource "hobbiest" programming = clean efficient code from the ground up

- Vistadows "proffesional" programming = code that aproximately works with the addition of arbitrary "fixes"

It's been said before by other's but I'll say it again. MICROSOFT stop pilling more bad code on that backwards compatible pile of maneur you call the sum of Dos wrapped in Win3.11 wrapped in Win95 wrapped in WinNT rebranded as WinXP. It's nothing more than the sum total of every bug you've missed in the program since CGA was the pinical of display technology.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
Did you even read the article?
Get an idea of what you're talking about before making posts like this.

The issue here is not problems with Vista, it's problems with the applications themselves.

AppCompat issues boil down to two major things:
1) Apps are hardcoded to only run on WinXP/2k3 and they actually block execution if the OS MajorVersion != 5. That's bad practice from the application developers. The fix for this is simple and requires no code change, you simply run the program in compatability mode. It will be up to the software devs to fix their programs to run on Vista.
2) Apps expect to have admin priviledges where there's no reason for them to have it. If a dev is dumb enough to write their code in a way that a Limited user account can't run the client, then it's bad code. They've been able to get away with this for a very long time since the vast majority of users are admins on their own machines. The problem is that running as admin all the time is a huge security risk (in fact, many of the biggest offenders in terms of viruses and spyware don't even work if you're a limited user). Under Vista, you have to actually opt in to running a less secure environment, and it's causing problems in these badly coded apps. This is again something that those app devs will have to fix.
Posted by Meh234 (37 comments )
Link Flag
Depends on what the 'hacks' are
Most of the issues I have run into with with the Vista builds so far I run into with a locked down XP box; namely software not written for use with restricted logins.
And before you mindlessly bash MS, to be XP logo software (and most MS products are) you have to be runnable under a restricted user.
Posted by catch23 (436 comments )
Link Flag
The Big Picture
Don't blame Ina and Joris, they've likely been told to write Vista
pieces every week until it launches. The idea is to build up
mindshare. The subtle spin on this article is "Vista will be more
bug free than any other Windows release."
Posted by tobyp--2008 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More bug free?
Or more free bugs? JK (sort of...) :)
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
LOL
It could have 10,000 security flaws in the first week of launch and it will still be better then XP!
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
"More bug free?"
You mean that the hope is that the product will
have fewer bugs.

While that would be great, it's also highly
unlikely. It really hasn't anything to do with
Microsoft, it's just common sense. Their
development has a certain defect rate. For so
many lines of code, there will be so many
defects. As a product ages, the existing code
base has bugs fixed, but the defect rate stays
the same, so new bugs will also be introduced by
the fixes. Bug-fix defect rates are typically
lower than the de novo code defect rate, so
bug-fixes remove more bugs than they introduce.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that new code
will have a predictable defect rate (you don't
know where all the bugs are, but you've got a
good guess at how many are hiding in there).
Microsoft has already been using tools to help
detect defects in previous versions of Windows,
so the de novo rate is probably unchanged. This,
combined with the larger code base most
certainly means that Vista will both have more
bugs and a higher density of bugs than XP.
Namely, it's the result of the code being less
mature. You can test an analyze all you want,
but the fact is that you can depress the rate
only by so much (logical errors are very
difficult to detect a priori, for example).

Microsoft certainly needs this product to be an
grand improvement in order for it to sell at
all. But what they're aiming for isn't so much
to squash bugs, but to introduce design concepts
that reduce the risk associated with a bug --
that is to say, they aren't looking for less
bugs, only to make the severity of running into
one more tolerable/recoverable. I suspect that
they will have achieved that, and that their
"shims" (which distort the underlying logic of
the design) will undermine that to some extent.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
Is this what they teach at journalism school???
Quote from the article:
"...too soon to size up where Microsoft is at."

Anyone else see a problem with this? Holy crap, get some writers, CNet! It's rather disconcerting to see where the current state of journalism "is at"!
Posted by Neo Con (428 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly!
Unbelievable! Everybody knows Microsoft is at Redmond! :)
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
Fish In A Barrel
Like shooting fish in a barrel.
Posted by Jesus#2 (127 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting
It's been a few years since I've run a dedicated Linux box (largely due to the fact that the software and driver support for doing serious audio work is abysmal), and at that time I had to run multiple versions of almost every major library to get things to run. It's good to hear that's changed. Though the fact that it's changed is also probably an indication that the devs releasing the distros are now more willing to introduce similar shims to prevent abandoned API calls and such from simply breaking, which doesn't put those libraries in a hugely different place than Windows. And I don't see that as being a bad thing for the end-user.

In terms of Windows breaking other software, a huge number of these "breaks" are more neglect of those who created the software than they are necessarily the fault of a change in Windows code. Obviously, there are at least a few exceptions to that rule, but you'd be amazed how many things break simply because the devs put in code that blocks it from running on anything other than a few current versions of Windows (which, by the way, is not compliant with logo requirements).
Posted by Meh234 (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You want Vista bugs? Here you go...
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://chris.pirillo.com/2006/05/24/windows-vista-feedback/" target="_newWindow">http://chris.pirillo.com/2006/05/24/windows-vista-feedback/</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://chris.pirillo.com/2006/05/28/65-more-windows-vista-" target="_newWindow">http://chris.pirillo.com/2006/05/28/65-more-windows-vista-</a>
mistakes/
Posted by TyTyson (154 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read it. Where are the bugs?
I followed the links. It seems the majority of the "bugs" the article referes to are what font is being used... quoting one of hundreds "Pre-login screen, the font displaying Windows information in the lower-right corner is using Microsoft Sans Serif."

So, this is a bug? No, this is the ranting of someone who wished to complain about anything, including the default size of the icons.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
Vista will be REAL GOOD, you MS-haters!
Yet, I/we may still not use it. Why? Let's just say that I know personally 50 people who run pirated copies of Windows &#38; Office XP. When MS starts pushing DRM/TPM concept too hard (and it's already started to get annoying with "expiring" WMV's, very soon WDP=MS Photos), they'll find many of us bailing to Linux. TPM (physical encryption key on your motherboard) _will_ eventually kill all software piracy. MS _will_ make you pay for everything. Now whether the offer is worth the price (compared to cheaper/free alternatives) remains to be seen. Today, most of us (50 folks) are using MS products because it's FREE. Us techies who FUEL MS's cashflow (since at work we play with legal MS stuff) love to steal software. If we can't no mo', we'll try stealing the next best platform (Mac), and if we can't we'll just go with Linux and start investing all of our collective mindpower bettering opensource. Right now we're just spoiled by MS.

After all, all those 50 folks I mentioned basically produce and interchange content among themselves. We can, pretty easily (if someone very technical/smart heads it), change camps.

But I wouldn't worry too much, because MS knows all this and won't wanna see us all go away. They'll play the marketing game and screw those idiots who cannot do some basic research on buying software cheap. You CAN buy second hand software (regardless of what the license says). You CAN get academic pricing (through your kid/cousin/whatever). You CAN buy software through a group at dirt cheap prices. So no, I most likely won't be switching to the Mac/Linux camp in the next 5 years after all...unless Microsoft really tries hard to screw me with unfair prices.

I'd pay not a cent more than $100 for Vista Ultimate and same price for Office 2007 Ultimate.
Posted by Fictia (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista bug catching
I have noticed a lot of people hating on Microsoft and their software. You techies seem to find all wrong with Microsoft, but nothing wrong with the other operating systems that occupy your computer space. You guys seem to find all that's wrong with Microsoft, but never, ever do we blame the user that keeps downloading variant contained data that destroys their systems. It's simple, have an opinion, which is part of the human nature, but when you become perfect, or can create a flawless, robust, compatible operating system across the board, stop always finding the glass half empty when it comes to Microsoft. If you don't like someone, you don't speak too them or about them. Take that same attitude with Microsoft and its products. Unless, you joined the band wagon of haters and want to put your two or one cent into the mix of what's bad about Microsoft or what I can find is wrong with Microsoft, please approach Microsofts products objectively.
Posted by dthomason119 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Big potential security hole
From the article:

"For example, many programs are set to check for updates whenever they run. So far, that check has required an administrative OK, but Microsoft is changing it so that existing applications will be able to update themselves in standard user mode."

Okay, is it just me or does allowing applications to be updated without an administrative OK seem like a potential entry point for unwanted code, such as viruses?

The administrative OK should be left in place.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is not just you
Isn't it funny how they are adding exploitable code and marketing it as a security feature?
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
 

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