MS considers bug database

Microsoft may release internal bug information to counteract criticism of its technical support

Microsoft may release internal bug information to counteract criticism of its technical support

Cliff Saran

Microsoft is considering releasing its internal database of product software bugs to users.

The move could alleviate a major qualm users have with Microsoft's technical support. It would also tackle one of the complaints of a software developer, who has lodged a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), accusing Microsoft's technical support of not being value for money.

Robin Colclough, chief executive officer at public displays supplier Audio Visual Computer, reported Microsoft to the OFT in November.

He said most of his technical support queries are related to problems that could be bugs. But Microsoft currently does not provide a list of possible bug reports, but only offers a list of confirmed problems with its software.

However, this situation is set to change. George Thaw, Microsoft manager for product support services, said the company was looking at making its internal list of pending queries relating to Microsoft software available to users.

The news could have a profound impact on the software development community. Users of Microsoft development tools are presently charged £185 per technical support query.

Colclough's complaint to the OFT relates to the fact that most of the time developers ask Microsoft technical support whether a problem they have encountered is a known bug in the development tools software.

If the problem is found to be a flaw in the software, Microsoft usually refunds the user. "But this is only after haggling," said Colclough.

A list of pending bug queries could increase software developer productivity. Users would not have to waste valuable programming time working around problems that turn out to be bugs in Microsoft software.

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