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Microsoft Halts New Development Work? 4 February 2002 Edition
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How do you know when what you read on an Internet news site is accurate?

Take this story for example.

It claims that Microsoft has dedicated the entire month of February (which just happens to be the shortest month) to hunting down and exterminating bugs in its software.

The article allegedly quotes Richard Purcell, identified as the director of Microsoft's corporate computing office, as saying "We are not coding new code as of today for the next month."

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Even more suspicious is the claim that Bill Gates "is really annoyed by the incredible pain we put everyone through in computing."

Surely no founder and highly positioned executive of a corporation such as Microsoft would really be caught slagging off their own products to this degree?

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But wait -- it gets worse!

Apparently Purcell is openly admitting that Microsoft's software is "unstable and unreliable."

Now I don't know about you -- but in most companies, saying such things would likely get you fired in double-quick time.

So is this a bogus report?

Well a check of Microsoft's own PR site gives no hint of credibility to the story. After all, you'd think that such an important move (halting all development work for a month) would at least merit some kind of press release right?

However, we do know that the alleged informant, Richard Purcell, does exist at Microsoft -- as this bio indicates.

So what about the publisher -- GCN.COM?

Well the site's "about" page all seems kosher and checks using Google seem to indicate that it is legit.

So, if we accept the veracity of the story -- what does it mean?

Well it shows that, as I suggested recently, Microsoft really are well out of their depth in their understanding(?) of what constitutes good security.

If they want us to believe that just a month's work (and a short month at that) will go any way towards detecting and fixing the security holes and bugs in its software then they under-estimate the average computer-user's gullibility quotient.

The statement that the move is like "a 20-year spring cleaning" is also a joke.

I strongly doubt that the company is going to look at anything other than its currently available software packages and doubt very much whether we'll see new bug-fix updates for MSDOS 2.11 or Windows 1.01 being released as a result of this month's activities.

Given these incredulous statements, I still can't help but wonder whether someone has duped the people at GCN.com.

I sure hope so -- because the alternative -- that Microsoft really expects the world to accept such a ridiculous piece of PR spin, would shatter what very little credibility the company retains in respect to its ability to produce secure, bug-free software.

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