ITGS Syllabus

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Topic 37

Bug Free Software by Tommy Chuang

What are the issues associated with this subject?

In today’s moneymaking society in which results are the main focus of every business, it is not uncommon to find programmers rushing to meet deadlines. In their rush, programmers often tend to overlook bugs or errors in their work. This leads to the question of whether having software released faster with more bugs is better than having software released more slowly, but with fewer bugs.

Who are the stakeholders?
What are the major advantages and disadvantages for the stakeholders?

The stakeholders in this issue are major software companies such as Microsoft. If they continue to release software that is full of bugs instead of testing it to make sure that it is perfect or at least near perfect, other software vendors will eventually create new software that contains fewer bugs and has better functions. People will start to turn to the more bug free software and use it instead. This has already been shown with Internet Explorer and the release of Mozilla Firefox. Internet Explorer was infamous for its security issues, and Firefox promised a better, more secure internet browser. As a result, many decided to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox. However, there are always people who decide to remain loyal, and this is clear when one notices the astounding number of people who have stayed loyal to the Windows operating system, despite its many security issues.

What areas of impact does it affect?

The issue of bug-free software does not only affect general office software such as Internet Explorer. Bugs have also overflowed into the gaming world. With the release of every new game, companies often fail to find and fix bugs. These bugs can range from certain game functions not working to game balance issues that ruin the gaming experience for certain players. One example of this is in the popular online game World of Warcraft, where many players have cancelled their accounts due to the company’s lack of response to bugs in the game.

What solutions can overcome the problem?

A solution to this problem is introducing more effective beta testing programs for programs that are nearing release. This will help to remove bugs while the software is still in beta, thus allowing for a better product to be sold on the launch date. This solution is currently being practiced by many companies. However, communication between beta testers and software developers is sometimes weak, and this can lead to situations where the beta testing is able to root out major bugs, but leaves some minor issues untouched.

Another solution would be to have some effective and easy means of communication between users and companies, such as an online forum, so that issues with software can be addressed and fixed without difficulty. However, this form of communication would have to be directly between consumers and software developers. Companies using this method now often use “go-betweens” or “middle-men”, who take suggestions from consumers and deliver them to the developers. The disadvantage of such a process is that information is often lost in the transfer. The hired “go-betweens” may also not be fully qualified for such a job, and may instead treat the consumer base rudely rather than addressing the problems at hand.
Probably one of the best solutions would be for software companies not to be so quick to announce release dates for software or put strain on their programmers. With less strain, programmers would be able to spend more time and care on their work and come up with better software.

Most software companies already have some sort of solution in place. Gaming companies regularly release new patches to help fix bugs and balance issues. Microsoft has Windows Update to mend security or other issues that may arise through the use of its operating system and software.

Who is responsible?

The people responsible in this situation are the software companies. All too often, consumers are charged for software that appears fine but in truth has many bugs that sometimes leave the system open to attacks from viruses or hackers. An example of this is the I Love You virus, which exploited a security loophole in the Windows operating system and caused millions of computers worldwide to become infected. In part, consumers are also responsible for the software companies’ negligence because they do not act to try and prevent bug free software.

The issue of bugs in software has plagued the technological community for generations. Perhaps it is time that software developers began to take their programming more seriously, and be less quick to announce deadlines.

3 Comments -Show Original Post Collapse comments

harsh said...

Hello Guang Yuang Chang,
I don't think it's right to blame just the software companies in this case. Sure they are responsible for the bugs in software but you forgot to mention the hackers that exploit the use of computers. If there were no hackers, there wouldn't be any bugs. Perhaps I am wrong here but I think that hackers are at least responsible for some of the damage done to the software. Microsoft just makes poor software but it's the hackers who exploit that. Usually, in every case there's always more than one person you can blame.

December 12, 2006 1:59 AM

Simon Ruiz said...

Is Microsoft the only responsible authority in this issue? The social issue involved with the insecurity within the software where Microsoft releases should be considered with other aspects such as why hackers only invade users that use internet explorer.

December 14, 2006 5:48 AM

matwilder said...

Why do you choose to pick on Microsoft all the time? What did they ever do to you? Sure it may be bad for companies to release software with tons of bugs, but it is up to the consumer whether to buy it or not. Isnt it the consumer's responsibility to research what the software is like and check out what past consumers have to say about the software before actually buying it? Good essay though.

December 18, 2006 3:39 AM


Blogger Juju said...

Tommy your a microsoft user...yet you seem to hate them. though microsoft comes with many bugs, they are bugs that are caused by the user connecting to things via the internet to sites that send messages to the computer and tell it to do things that will cause the system to be faulty. This is mainly the problem. Hackers or crackers, get the latest softwares and then make sites that people usually use and give put bugs or things that cause the system to become faulty. Plus microsoft probably does test their software before selling it to people, but once again the bugs and things that users do can cause the computer to create problems. Testers are only told to do certain things, they are not given the software a year to test everything they can think of.

January 07, 2007 11:34 PM  

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