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Author Topic: FOCUS Magazine with Bill Gates: "No bugs"?
Whistler
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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http://www.cantrip.org/nobugs.html

This has all the earmarks of a hoax to me, but I can't disprove it. I did write to Focus magazine, but no reply yet. Can anyone supply info confirming or busting this?

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musicgeek
Deck the Malls


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Sounds like an inflammatory paraphrasing of a possibly real statement by Gates. The idea that new releases of software aren't mere bug fixes, but rather retooled products with new features appealing to consumers is a perfectly reasonable statement. I'm no Microsoft fan (I'm typing this from a Mac, using their own Safari browser,) but the interviewer in this case was out of line. Was Gates that snarky? Possibly. I'd be interested to hear the reply from Focus.

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[God said] "I'll just sit back in the shade while everyone gets laid; that's what I call intelligent design." - Chris Smither, "Origin of the Species"

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Grand Illusion
Jingle Bell Hock


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Having supported software for many years (including lots of Microsoft), I agree with the basic premise of Gates' (alleged) statements.

- Nobody will blow $150 to buy a new version of something just because it has a few bugs fixed.

- Bug fixes aren't the primary reason for new versions. That's what service packs are for. When someone says, "Maybe it'll be fixed in the next version," what they mean is that hopefully, the same mistakes will not be repeated in the next version and hopefully, the bugs of the new version will be in areas I don't care about.

- The primary reason new versons of software are made is to keep the software up to date with the rest of the world. For example, when Word 95 came out in 1995, very few people were creating their own web pages. By 1997 when Word 97 came out, a lot of people were creating web pages, so Word 97 had a "Save as html" option. By 1999, when Word 2000 came out, people were doing more on their web pages than flat html, so Word 2000 included support for frames and server scripting.

- Most problems with software that cause users grief are related to misconfiguration or lack of user training. Releasing a new version won't fix those kinds of problems. Honestly, when someone tells me that they are dealing with a bug in a program, it's usually not a bug. One user told me that she wanted to stay with Exchange Client instead of Outlook because Outlook didn't show the message size in the inbox. I showed her how to display the Size column in Outlook and she was happy.

- It's easier to demand that a large corporation fix your frustrations in one fell swoop and take all the responsibility off your shoulders than it is to sit down and work out the compound nature of most problems.

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There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who do not.

"Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" - The Brain

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Ulkomaalainen
Jingle Bell Hock


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While part (or all) of these statements may make sense, I have a hard time believing that Bill Gates puts it like that. He would never accuse somebody this blatantly of misusing software. IMO, this can be rephrased, at best.

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Movie characters never make typing mistakes.

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Jay Temple
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I see that Focus is a German publication. This is a bit of a stretch, but could some of it be the result of bad translations?

(what Bill said in English) -> (nearest German translation) -> (nearest English translation of the German translation)

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"Well, it looks we're on our own ... again."--Rev. Lovejoy

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diddy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I would hope that there would be somebody on the staff of Focus Magazine who was bilingual enough to do a better job in translating.

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W.W.F.S.M.D?
But this image of Bush as some sort of Snidely Whiplash tying the fair maiden to the railroad tracks is beyond the pale. - Joe Bentley

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Whistler
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Still no reply from Focus - I wrote in English and also translated it with Babelfish to German. I hope I didn't accidentally order a platypus omelet or something.

As for the translation, I thought of that too. There's this bit at the end:

"Text for this page is extracted from the RISKS archive:
This is the raw interview transcript (from which the magazine article was transcribed in German) kindly provided by the interviewer, Dr. Jürgen Scriba. The introductory text at the top is from Klaus Brunnstein, as found in http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/17.43.html


I guess I'll hunt up Dr. Jürgen Scriba and see if he has anything to say.

I do appreciate Grand Illusion's perspective - I hadn't thought of it quite like that.

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Ulkomaalainen
Jingle Bell Hock


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Oops, I actually missed it, that we're talking the German FOCUS here. I did not find anything on their webpage (not surprisingly, 1995 is long ago). German quotes of this seemed to be basically a re-translation back to German from the English original (example, example). WikiQuote has had the line about bugs as "approved" but it has been deleted from the German article. I have not been able to find a really reliable source yet.

A side note: the word "wollte" in use in those quotes I found could mean two things:

it could be simple past, meaning Bill speaks from experience, like "In the past, studies have showed that customers did not want..."

or it could be subjunctive, meaning Bill would be doing guessing here, i.e. "I don't think that customers would want..."

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Movie characters never make typing mistakes.

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Whistler
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I emailed Mr. Scriba at the address provided by the http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/17.44.html#subj11 website (scriba@focus.burda.com) and got:

SMTP error from remote mailer after RCPT TO:scriba@focus.burda.com:
host mail-3-m.burda.com [195.27.126.135]: 550 Recipient denied.

I will attempt to locate another address.

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Kathy B
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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From RISKS-LIST: Risks-Forum Digest Weds 8 November 1995 Volume 17 : Issue 44
quote:
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 1995 15:28:33 +0100
From: Klaus Brunnstein
Subject: Re: Gates interview [RISKS-17.42]

Following my report on Mr. Gates` interview in FOCUS (RISKS-17.42), some colleagues assumed that my translation might have adversely change Mr. Gates` original words, or the German interviewer may have misunderstood some phrases. The interviewer, Dr. Juergen Scriba was born in USA and grew up there, so his English qualification should be good. The interview was in English, translated and "redactionally adapted" in German (e.g. to remove redundancies and polish sentences, as is usually done in such interviews). Finally, the German version was authorised by a German employee of Microsoft.

Dr. Scriba was so kind to read my "translation back to English". Though some of my phrases differed from Mr. Gates original speak (due to "polishing"), he regarded my text as semantically essentially correct, with one exception: I mistranslated "Maschinenstuermer" as "machine addict" but the correct translation is "Luddite". Apologies for this serious fault :-)

Dr. Scriba sent me "original Mr. Gates", so I append this "raw text". In comparing the published interview with the spoken one, I regard the journalist having been really friendly with Bill :-)

You can read the "raw ext" by clicking on the link above.

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The plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

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Whistler
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Well...I'm still a little dubious about the source, but it will have to do since my other attempts at clarity have failed to pan out. The only phrase which still troubles me is:

"No! There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed."

It may be that Bill's definition of "significant" differs from that of most people. To be fair, he's a man who deals with things on the order of billions.

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Johnny Slick
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Hmm. I see the date the interview was published was October 1995... I wonder if the actual interview was conducted before Win95 was released to Europe. I mean, 3.11 had been around a looooong time at that point, and as such wasn't super-buggy as of then. The same goes with Word 6.0, Excel, and so on. Remember, up until Windows 95, Windows itself was really more of an overlay on top of DOS than an actual OS in and of itself. And DOS had been around for... geez, almost 20 years at that time. I would say that before Win95, Microsoft probably never saw the need to release a massive service pack. I'm not knocking MS on that - I've read somewhere that 95 used upwards of a million lines of code -but before August of 1995, everything MS released was a piece-by-piece improvement of programs that had been hammered out years and sometimes decades before.

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Give big space to the festive dog that makes sport in roadway. Avoid entanglement of dog with wheel spokes.

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