What Does Microsoft Do With All That Error Data?

On a "good" day, some 50 gigabytes of error data flows into Microsoft, according to a story in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Two dozen programmers pore over the data, looking for OS kernel and or application problems resulting from design flaws, programming, errors, resource conflicts, and other sorts of programmer and designer ingenuity.

Microsoft won't say where the majority of errors lie or who is at fault, nor give any details about how Vista, XP, Windows 98, Windows 95 all compare, which is too bad. Nor does Microsoft say how errors are prioritized for repair, and whether those two dozen programmers get any say. It also doesn't say how many 50 gigabyte days occur, either.

As I read the story, I got to wondering about those two dozen programmers who look over all the error data coming in. Do they get excited when a big day of error data hits? Do they take bets when the first 60 gigabyte day occurs, or the least busy day of the year is? Do they have a list of known but obscure errors, and then try to guess (err.. predict) when the first time it will show up? Is there a bell that gets rung when it does?

Also, is that position a stop on the way towards bigger and better things, or is it a career path all its own? Is there a title of Chief Error Guru? Do you move from a development team to this error discovery team, or vice versa? After being there awhile, you must get a pretty good education as to what not to do in developing applications or OS kernels. Are those lessons learned promulgated throughout the company and to others in the software community?

Anyone out there who knows, let me know. I'm curious about the dirty two-dozen.


Risk Factor

IEEE Spectrum's risk analysis blog, featuring daily news, updates and analysis on computing and IT projects, software and systems failures, successes and innovations, security threats, and more.

Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City