Yet another controversial ZDNet article earlier this week elicited a bunch of email to yours truly, wondering when I was going to cover the story. According to said article, internal Microsoft memos identified over 63,000 bugs in the shipping version of Windows 2000. And even though later versions of the story changed the word 'bugs" to "defects," many readers wanted to know whether it was true. I mean, who would pay $500 for a product with 63,000 known bugs?
Well, there's a reason I didn't cover this story in WinInfo. And Microsoft itself has responded with a ringing condemnation of this sensational story, with a letter from none other than senior VP Jim Allchin, who managed the development of Windows 2000. Allchin's open letter to Microsoft customers cuts right to the chase.
"You may have seen reports in the media claiming that Windows 2000 contains over 63,000 defects," Allchin's letter begins. "I'd like to assure our customers that these reports are inaccurate. Microsoft is committed to delivering high quality products, and we believe Windows 2000 is the most reliable operating system Microsoft has ever shipped."
"So does Windows 2000 have 63,000 defects?" he asks. "The answer is a flat no. There was an internal development paper that described a broad set of focus areas for the team that mentioned the 63,000 number. However, without understanding our development process (which isn't described in this paper) reporting such a number is totally meaningless when taken out of context."
Allchin notes that many of the "bugs" or "defects" mentioned in the ZDNet report are, in fact, feature requests, potentially confusing phrases in the documentation, ideas about possible performance improvements, and the like. And as Brian Valentine said way back in April 1999, at some point you just have to freeze the code and ship it: Otherwise, you could simply develop a product forever. And as the technical press has noted, myself included, Windows 2000 is rock solid. It's easily the most stable operating system the company has ever created.
"Will customers run into bugs in Windows 2000?" Allchin concludes. "We worked harder than ever to ensure they would not. Windows 2000 is the highest quality product we have ever released-just ask any one of the thousands of satisfied users who have experienced Windows 2000 so far. We are very proud of Windows 2000's quality and our relentless pursuit of the highest quality software in the world.