Microsoft Faces Late Heat over Visual Studio 2005 Quality

The Redmond software vendor has committed to providing a first service pack for its "Whidbey" release, but is standing by its code and its release schedule.

SAN FRANCISCO—On day of its official launch of Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft Corp. is finding itself facing some tough questions around its bug fixing policies and plans.

According to some bloggers cited on the "Mini-Microsoft" blog, the much anticipated release of Visual Studio 2005, which is slated to ship Monday, following a vaunted launch event here, may be going out too early. For its part, Microsoft is committing to provide a service pack for the product but not providing further details.

Some bloggers, such as Ayende Rahein, said: "Its interesting to note that nearly all those bugs were known to Microsoft, but were closed because of time constraints. Im shocked that even after countless CTPs [Community Technology Previews] and two betas, there are so many serious-youll-lose-work-and-tear-out-your-hair bugs in the product. Refactoring is useless the moment youve a web project, period."

Meanwhile, Roy Osherove wrote in his blog: "Its completely amazing to me that VS.Net 2005 RTM [release to manufacturing], after a big cycle of testing, alphas, betas and LOTS of community feedback, can be this buggy. All Im really doing is working on a very small Winforms projects on a VPC [virtual PC] with 1 GIG of ram, and appearing out of nowhere, the compiler decided that it cant find any StringBuilder, Form or Component types in any assemblies. As if Ive lost all the references to System assemblies in my project (which of course, I did not!)."

/zimages/2/28571.gifDid Microsoft wait too long to ship Visual Studio 2005? Or did the Redmondians rush out the product before its time? Click here to read Mary Jo Foleys view.

However, Microsoft is not without its supporters. Mitch Barnett, a software architect with successful development tools to his credit, said he has had enough about "inconsequential bugs" and wants to hear about what value the Visual Studio IDE delivers to developers.

"What I want to hear about is the critical innovations in the IDE that make my ridiculously hard job as a programmer easier," Barnett said in his blog. "Like the baked in bits for Software Factories, DSLs [Domain Specific Languages] Visual Designers, GAT [Guidance Automation Toolkit], et al. These are the critical innovations in the IDE that make my job easier. These are fantastic for me, you have no idea what a positive thing this is. I want to see more knowledge share like James Averys incredibly useful Visual Studio Hacks book. As a programmer, that is what is useful to me. How come I dont hear [more] about this?"

And Wesner Moise, a software developer in Seattle, building a new artificial intelligence software company, said in his blog: "Despite the few hiccups, I am enjoying VS 2005 and have been able to work with it productively. VS 2005 is stable and performant, and its better to have it arrive now rather than later. The runtime is solid, and various products across Microsoft and outside also depend on it being delivered on a timely basis."

Of course, the negative comments outweighed the positive. But Microsoft maintains that it has done its due diligence in shipping a product that is solid. Indeed, many of the companys key partners signed off on the release of Visual 2005 last month.

"In case you dont know, the VS and .Net Framework development teams have a customer board building applications on our beta software, and we need them all to say were good to go before we can ship (or to tell us that their development schedule doesnt allow them to upgrade to the latest release candidate and thereby excuse themselves from the process)," said John Montgomery, director of Microsofts Developer Division, in his blog on Oct. 4. "So yesterday we got the signoff from the 24 customers (any one of whom can stop our ship cycle)."

And while swearing by the products soundness, Microsoft has committed to a service pack update of Visual Studio in the future.

Next Page: Microsofts "proud of quality."