Microsoft’s Software Quality Has Become An #EpicFail

Almost a year ago, I called out Apple because their ability to QA their software was so horrific, that macOS shipped with an extremely dangerous flaw that somehow was never caught by their QA department. Apple has yet to fully recover from that as many other embarrassing issues cropped up after that. But fortunately for them the spotlight has been moved away from them and onto Microsoft because of their incredibly buggy October 2018 update which deleted your data. It was so bad that Microsoft had to stop the rollout of the update. But that wasn’t the only screw up by Microsoft. The April 2018 Update was a disaster as many of my clients got hit by the numerous bugs in that update.

Clearly Microsoft’s ability to QA their products is in trouble. But to be truthful it’s been in trouble for a while. To illustrate that, let me take you back to 2014. Microsoft decided that dedicated QA testers were obsolete. And thus many of them were laid off. Crowdsourcing testing efforts were thought to be much better approach according to the brain trust in Redmond because you could just give pre-release versions of the software to thousands of people, they’d test it in the real world and trip over stuff that QA types never could, and the world would be perfect. Which led to the birth of the Microsoft Insider Program.

Except that it isn’t perfect.

Windows 10 which has thousands of people who don’t work for Microsoft testing it is a complete and utter mess. It’s so much of a mess that since the gong show of an update that the April 2018 Update was, I’ve actively recommended to my clients to sit and wait until the dust settles on any feature update before installing. That could easily be two or three months after it is released. Which I bet isn’t what Microsoft envisioned when they came up with Windows 10 and the concept of “feature updates” that come out with two or three times a year with shiny new features to make you think that Windows 10 is cool.

Clearly outsourcing software testing via crowdsourcing isn’t working for Microsoft. So, how do you fix it? Here’s my suggestions:

  1. Reintroduce dedicated testers who work for Microsoft: Live humans working for Microsoft who fully understand the product are what is needed right now as they have background to look for and find issues. If properly managed, they will help to address this issue.
  2. Kill the Insider Program: What is not needed is a bunch of fanboys who are going to get the latest pre-release version of Windows 10, install it and only report something to Microsoft that interferes with their ability to play Call Of Duty. That’s because unlike dedicated QA testes they don’t have the background to actually find issues and report them. Thus this program serves no useful purpose and needs to die as soon as possible.
  3. Rethink the concept of feature updates: What’s also not helping is this whole concept of “feature updates” that come out twice a year. Instead, they should focus on issuing updates that actually work and when they are ready to be released. Maybe that is one update a year. Maybe that six smaller updates. Who knows? But this two or three update cadence isn’t working for them at the moment.

Here’s what is going to happen if Microsoft doesn’t change course on this front. It will be a similar situation as the early 2000’s where Microsoft became such a joke that people were just stampeding towards Apple stores buying Macs right left and center. That’s something that Microsoft cannot afford right now. Thus they need to admit that they have a serious QA problem and take steps to address it before it is too late for them to recover. Because right now, their software quality is a not only a #EpicFail, it’s a joke.

 

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