Home > Microsoft > File a Bug at Microsoft, Get Charged 35 USD File a Bug at Microsoft, Get Charged 35 USD Eugenia Loli 2006-03-22 Microsoft 43 Comments Tim Altman just wanted to file a bug report for Outlook (feature request actually) but all he got was a lot of hop-around from Microsoft’s tech support, and got charged $35 for expressing interest in the product. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 43 Comments 2006-03-22 10:42 pm Eugenia Loli Not many people use them, but the “normal way” to file a bug report at an MS product is to use the right Newsgroup in Usenet that MS usually setup. They have over 50 such newsgroups for all their products that their engineers read daily. But that also means that the user will have to use the now defunct Usenet. It should be an http-based way to file a bug report with MS, at least for those with a free MSDN account (otherwise they would be overwhelming by normal users who don’t know jack and who they better do use the phone for customer support). 2006-03-22 10:53 pm Thom Holwerda Not many people use them, but the “normal way” to file a bug report at an MS product is to use the right Newsgroup in Usenet that MS usually setup. They have over 50 such newsgroups for all their products that their engineers read daily. But that also means that the user will have to use the now defunct Usenet. I have actually used those newsgroups a few times, and trust me, they’re a true treasure trove of support. It is absolutely *amazing* how fast the responses were, and how detailed the information given. I think it’s easily the best support section I have ever seen. But yes, MS should have a simply .html way of submitting bugs. I guess they are trying to keep the barrier to file bug reports a little higher, else we’d have the script kiddies and anti-MS folks submitting too many bogus and nonsense reports. So from that viewpoint it’s understandable. Theamount of possible bug reports MS could receive is insanely bigger than any other company/project in the world. 2006-03-22 10:55 pm stew The thing is also that you don’t want every village idiot to be able to file a bug in your database. Then you’d spend more time finding out which ones of these are actual bugs and what is just a user that thinks a dirty mouse ball is a bug in the Microsoft mouse driver. 2006-03-22 10:59 pm Eugenia Loli Exactly. Which is why I said that (free account) MSDN developers should be the ones who should be having access to such bug report facilities. 2006-03-23 12:20 am jayson.knight FWIW the bug database for VS2k5 was (and still is) open to anyone with an MS Passport: http://lab.msdn.microsoft.com/productfeedback/Default.aspx. It actually worked out really well in the end (even though there were a few bugs they didn’t fix). I have it on the inside that this will eventually filter down to other products. Outlook? Perhaps, but definitely some of their other professional level products in the near future. 2006-03-23 6:18 am ma_d Yes, because people who use usenet definitely aren’t anti-Microsoft. Forgive the eye roll, but, I think the people they’d like to keep out are the entirely unknowledgeable. The script kiddies are plenty bright enough to get on usenet, and so are the “zealouts.” Your disdain for those who disagree with you is obvious Thom. I think Microsoft likes their bug reporting system, and the only bug reports they’d want from people would be well written ones with exact reproduction instructions. 2006-03-23 1:46 am nilfilter I am anything but a MS friend. Anyways, I once had severe issues with a client’s PPT files I was working on and yuppers, the newsgroup support was fast, competent and friendly. Can’t say anything negative about it. Peace. 2006-03-23 3:11 am Varg Vikernes Not many people use them, but the “normal way” to file a bug report at an MS product is to use the right Newsgroup in Usenet that MS usually setup. Which means if you happen to be subscribed to the biggest ISP in US (AOL) you can’t file a bug to Microsoft, because AOL dropped Usenet support last year. Someone mentioned that he could use the Outlook Express’ Help->Send Feedback feature to file a bug. The funny thing here is that when you click that, it takes you to a web page that doesn’t even exist Yes, there should be some sort of a barrier to stop idiots from spamming them with irrelevant “imaginery bugs”, but this is ridiculous. 2006-03-23 3:35 am jayson.knight Then use their web based version: http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/default.mspx. They all get funnelled to the same database in the end. 2006-03-23 1:20 pm bhhenry Microsoft provides their own usenet servers, so even if you have AOL, as long as you have a news reader (Outlook Express, if all else fails) you can connect. And, as someone else stated, you can just use the Web-based viewer for their news groups. From what I recall, the ms news groups are staffed by ms mvps, not ms staff. 2006-03-22 10:44 pm archiesteel …and label it “QA consulting fees”… 2006-03-23 1:31 pm spikeb hahaha, that is brilliant! 2006-03-22 10:49 pm shotsman If Microsoft had a HTTP way to submit bugs then naturally they would insist that 1) You could only use Internet Explorer for the submission and 2) Promised not to tell anyone else about it 2006-03-22 10:51 pm stew The title is very skewed. It should read: “Phone tech support costs $35. Someone thought this would still be a good way to file a feature request.” 2006-03-22 10:58 pm exigentsky Who do you think we are, Ubuntu? 2006-03-22 11:54 pm exigentsky It’s a joke people. Are you really that dense? Haven’t you ever seen the “Hertz” commercials? 2006-03-23 1:29 am AdamW Believe it or not, there exist countries in the world where these ‘Hertz’ commercials of which you speak are not broadcast. 2006-03-22 11:54 pm brother bloat NOTE: i don’t mean to be a troll here! Tim Altman: welcome to the opposite of open source/open development. In an open source world, the cost of programming error is credibility for the coder and for the product as a whole. the greatest benefit for the project is for the coder to fix their own mistakes (in order to regain reputation). failing that, it is in the project’s best interest to repair the product as soon as possible, because otherwise, users will start using the next best thing. in a close source world, programmers are paid to produce bug-free work (which is impossible). often they are punished for their errors, and so it is in their best interest to hide those errors in order to avoid punishment. likewise, it is in the company’s best interest to censor bug reporting until the cost of doing so becomes greater than the cost of fixing the bug. the result is that microsoft doesn’t want people directly searching for bugs, and so it is in their best interest to make *direct* bug reporting difficult. at the same time, since they most likely *are* interested in improving their product (i.e. get more $$ by enticing people to buy) microsoft’s focus in on behind-the-scene and/or “automatic” reporting of bugs/crashes. 2006-03-23 12:03 am sappyvcv You’re talking theoretically. In the real world, “hiding” a bug will usually have dire consequences, whether it’s someone higher up finding out and getting upset, or it coming back later to bite you in the ass because something else broke, because you didn’t fix it in the first place. And in open source, credibility really doesn’t hold as much power as you think. “Credibility” is the only incentive for a coder to want to fix their own problems. Some may not care that much, and sometimes it might not even get back to them in the first place. 2006-03-23 12:28 am jayson.knight NOTE: I worked at Microsoft (in PSS, but we had tons of contact with the product groups), and that’s not even close to how it works there. You make it sound like just because a coder works for MS, that they have no interest in producing bug free code…that they aren’t enthusiastic and take pride in their work. There is no “hiding” of errors, code their goes through extensive QA testing (whereas with a lot of OSS software, the end user is your QA dept); if an issue is found, the product doesn’t ship until it’s fixed. No code is _ever_ going to be bug free. And FWIW, if a user does find a confirmed bug in an MS product, MS always refunds their money. The reason you have to “pay to play” is because EVERYONE who calls them says “yeah, it’s a bug in your product” thinking they won’t have to pay. Nine times out of eight it was user error. 2006-03-23 6:19 am whocares “…Nine times out of eight it was user error….” WTF? And the eight times out of one when there was an error, the bug was turned into a feature :~ 2006-03-23 6:38 am jayson.knight 9 out of 8…means 100% of the time. I think they call that a euphimism ;-). The groups I worked in when I was in PSS was on the COM+ team, followed by IIS. Averaging roughly 4 calls a day over my 2 years there, I probably fielded 2000 support requests. Of those 2000, I had 4 confirmed bugs. The rest were all things that were either A) fixable on the fly, or B) user error. These numbers were pretty consistent throughout PSS. Service packs do _seem_ like they are fixing a lot of bugs (a hundred or so), but if you compare that to the sheer number of calls MS gets on a daily basis, it is EXTREMELY rare that a customer ever finds a legitimate bug. 2006-03-23 7:20 am whocares “9 out of 8…means 100% of the time. I think they call that a euphimism ;-). ” not only it is not euphemism, it it bad mathematics. euphemism – http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=2&q=euphemism 9 out of 8 means 9/8 = 1.125 Euphemism aside, if you put the number of bugs in perspective for example with the number of lines of code, or the number of MS employees, or average MS salary, or B.G.’s fortune, you could almost claim that MS products have no bugs. You could also argue if a bug doesn’t really bite, or you are not really aware that it bit you, does the bug actually exist? The answer should be no. You could also take it a step further and claim that all those BSOD were actually illusions. Now back to reality… Edited 2006-03-23 07:28 2006-03-23 12:37 am jayson.knight I hate reading posts like this (any type of negative customer service related stuff). Guy Kawasaki recently had a great post titled “The Art of Sucking Down”, and like all of writing it’s excellent: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/03/the_art_of_suck.html. All posts like Altman’s do is keep the viscious cycle in motion, and do nothing to fix anything. 2006-03-23 1:30 am AdamW A viscious cycle? Is that like a vicious cycle, but covered in a sticky liquid? 2006-03-23 5:40 am Tyr. A viscious cycle? Is that like a vicious cycle, but covered in a sticky liquid? No that would be a viscous cycle. A vi(s)cious cycle is Sid’s bike. 2006-03-23 7:33 am AdamW No, a viscous cycle would just be a cycle covered in a sticky liquid. A vicious cycle covered in a sticky liquid would indeed cover both the aspects of viciousness and viscousness, hence it would be a viscious cycle. 2006-03-23 12:44 am Joe User This is what I call a volunteer sodomy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodomy A general practice from Microsoft to its customers. 2006-03-23 1:01 am jonsmirl When there is a problem with Open Source you can always get things fixed. Pull out the C compiler or hire someone to do it for you. If you put enough money and effort into a problem it will get fixed guaranteed. Being able to achieve a solution to a problem is incredibly valuable. Dealing with Microsoft is humiliating. You have to beg the tech support person to agree that there is a problem. Once they agree (your opinion on whether there is a bug is irrelevant) you might get a fix in service pack in three or four years, maybe. Anyway you slice it you will have to live with bug for a long, long time. To top it all off you pay them to treat you this way. Take control of your life and go open source. Take the money that you would give to MS and hire a programmer to add the features you want and to fix your bugs. When will people learn that Microsoft does what is best for Microsoft and the customers are only a necessary inconvenience. PS – I used to work there as a developer. After I left, I was once stupid enough to call tech support and try and tell them how to fix a bug I had made in the code. Talk about an incredibility frustrating experience arguing as to whether there was a bug or not. And yes, I got charged $35 — the bug is still there too. 2006-03-23 4:50 am WorknMan When there is a problem with Open Source you can always get things fixed. Pull out the C compiler or hire someone to do it for you. If you put enough money and effort into a problem it will get fixed guaranteed. Being able to achieve a solution to a problem is incredibly valuable. Really? How much would it cost me to hire somebody to include a built-in text-to-speech engine into Firefox that is as good as the one in Opera? Perhaps if I save my lunch money long enough, I could afford it. Edited 2006-03-23 04:50 2006-03-23 2:56 pm jonsmirl Have you tried getting other people together to help fund the project? Since that is an accessibility project have you applied for government money to fund it? Have you made a detailed formal proposal to the Mozilla Foundation? They are a charitable foundation and would consider a well written request. A couple of emails isn’t going to get you anything. Software doesn’t come for free, you’re going to have to some work to get what you want. Open Source is also about evangelism and making others aware of what you need. The point is if you didn’t like the one Microsoft is shipping good luck trying to change it. With Open Source there is always a way to change things if you are willing to put in the effort. 2006-03-23 4:26 pm sappyvcv If you post at the right places, you can request stuff in Microsoft products as well (you’re best off doing this as a beta tester). In the case of say.. Firefox, you can’t just put your pet feature in it. Same goes for a lot of open-source projects. There are people that make the final decisions as to what goes in and what does not, same as closed source. Yes, you can fork the code and put it in yourself, and use that. But any further changes made to the code on their branch make it difficult to keep your branch up to date. Not to mention that you may have to strip out any branding. 2006-03-23 2:02 am elsewhere $35 is peanuts. What they should do is expand that strategy and charge $35,000 to report a security flaw in time for Vista. They’ll drastically reduce the number of reported vulnerabilities, achieving their goal of producing the most secure Windows ever, and all without having to expend costly R&D resources. No? 2006-03-23 3:46 am tomcat This guy should have posed his questions to one of the many newsgroups that are monitored by not only MS employees but also MVP volunteers. Clue: Paid support costs money. Try doing the same thing to RedHat. They’ll charge you, too. Browser: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240×320; HP iPAQ h6300) 2006-03-23 4:20 am AdamW He’s not asking for support. There is a problem in Outlook Express (it does not correctly display a certain type of attachment) which causes problems for users and he wishes to report it to Microsoft so they can improve the experience of their users. In what way is that a support request, and why should it cost him any money? 2006-03-23 5:16 am unoengborg This sounds like a big improvements from back in the days when Microsoft had no bugs, only features, and it always costed money to file a feature request. If I remember correctly, it costed a lot more than $35 to report a b.., sorry I meant request a feature, against NT4. Money that was not refunded under any circumstances. 2006-03-23 6:07 am tomcat He’s not asking for support. There is a problem in Outlook Express (it does not correctly display a certain type of attachment) which causes problems for users and he wishes to report it to Microsoft so they can improve the experience of their users. In what way is that a support request, and why should it cost him any money? Yes, it IS a support call. The fact of the matter is that practically EVERY caller claims to have found a bug in a particular product. Most of the time, they’re full of crap. Neither MS nor Redhat can afford to subsidize bogus user assumptions. The appropriate forum to report bugs is thru the newsgroups and/or MSDN. As another poster pointed out, MS does add the issues to its bug db. But going thru paid support is just stupid. Browser: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240×320; HP iPAQ h6300) 2006-03-23 7:36 am AdamW Why is it “just stupid” when the guy spent, clearly, several hours Googling and calling Microsoft and was never told about the existence of these newsgroups, or advised by any employee to file the report there? I find it rather harsh to suggest that not knowing about these newsgroups already means one is stupid. And the fact of the matter is that this is NOT a support call. He already knows what the problem is. He is not sitting there at his computer going “what’s wrong with this email?” and asking for help. He is attempting to tell Microsoft why their email client does not work, and advise them how to remedy the situation. Under no possible definition of the phrase does that constitute a ‘support call’. Theoretical ramblings about what proportion of Microsoft’s callers believe they have found a bug when in fact they haven’t are entirely irrelevant to this case, because in this case we know exactly what the issue was and it’s perfectly clear that it was not a support request. 2006-03-23 11:20 am Matt24 Charging for bugs good cause another revenue stream of some billions for MS. 2006-03-23 12:46 pm peterm I’ve tried the same thing… although not a feature request, an actual bug in Outlook. I had to beg and explain my way through several levels of not very technical support who seemed to refuse to understand the problem before I finaly after 12 emails and 2 months, got hold of a guy who acknowledged the bug. … the Microsoft “kindly” said that I would not be charged. I’m pretty sure my boss wouldn’t have paid anyway. 2006-03-23 2:19 pm Pelly If MS charges $35 per Support Event, that’s actually pretty fair. Most people will opt NOT to call MS to report bugs that may be user-error is it’s going to cost them. They may ask someone in their particular circle, or simply forget about it and move on. However, if people do call and their particular problem cann be attributed to a software flaw, they are not charged, or their $35 ir refunded. Not a bad deal. Especially when you consider that if MS had ‘free’ support, there are many who would call in ‘bugs’ just to drive their folks crazy, causing the to expend resources to chasing/duplicating all sorts of phantom issues. The $35 fee is just a measure to help ensure that that MS Support isn’t overloaded with issues of nonsense. My thoughts. 2006-03-23 3:54 pm jonsmirl test me 2006-03-23 6:05 pm Edward Well might as wll make money with what ever you have, & MS products has more bugs then a beehive. Wow, making money from you mistakes. Well it is MS that says think diferent right?