Published in PC Hardware

Increase of bugs in Windows updated explained

by on24 September 2019

Vole decided to fire all the people responsible for bug checking 

Software King of the World Microsoft apparently adopted an "anti-vaxer" policy when it came to bugs in Windows updates.

Apparently someone in the Vole Hill thought that Windows updates would go away if they fired all those who were expected to check them.  A similar idea is followed by parents who think it is better not to give their children vaccinations because they are not sick. Both strategies have resulted in epidemics. 

According to Winfuture,  former Microsoft Senior SDET Jerry Berg, better known as Barnacules, who worked for Vole for 15 years at Microsoft has as one of his roles to design and develop tools and processes to automate testing for the Microsoft Windows operating system. He left the company after Windows 8.1 shipped to the public.

Berg said Microsoft's testing processes changed since he worked there. In 2014/2015, Vole employed an entire team that was dedicated to testing the operating system, builds, updates, drivers, and other code. The team consisted of multiple groups that would run tests and discuss bugs and issues in daily meetings. Tests were conducted manually by the team and through automated testing, and if tests were passed, would give the okay to integrate the code into Windows.

The teams ran the tests on "real" hardware in a lab through automated testing. The machines had different hardware components, e.g. processors, hard drives, video and sound cards, and other components to cover a wide range of system configurations, and this meant that bugs that affected only certain hardware components or configurations were detected in the process.

However, Vole laid off almost the entire Windows Test team as it moved the focus from three different systems -- Windows, Windows Mobile and Xbox -- to a single system. The company moved most of the testing to virtual machines and this meant according to Berg that tests were no longer conducted on real and diverse hardware configurations for the most part.

You can see the video he created below.

Microsoft employees could self-host Windows which would mean that their machines would also be used for testing purposes. The main idea behind that was to get feedback from Microsoft employees when they encountered issues that they encountered during work days. Berg notes that self-hosting is not as widely used anymore as it was before.

The main source of data, apart from the automated test systems that are in place, come from Telemetry and Windows Insiders. Windows Insider builds are installed on millions of devices and Microsoft collects Telemetry from all of these devices.

If something crashes, Microsoft gets information about it. One of the issues associated with the collecting of Telemetry is that most bugs are not caught by it. If something does not work right, Microsoft may not be able to discern the relevant bits from Telemetry data. While it is in theory possible that users report issues, many don't and at other times, issues may go under because of other feedback that Microsoft gets from Insiders. Additionally, while Insiders may report bugs, it is often the case that necessary information is not supplied to Microsoft which poses huge issues for the engineers tasked with resolving these issues.

In 2014/2015, Microsoft's Testing team would be tasked with analysing bugs and issues, and supplying engineers with the data they required to resolve these.

Berg said engineers look at telemetry to figure out how to fix these issues and fixes are then pushed to customer devices running Insider Builds again to see if the issue got fixed or if it created new bugs.

To avoid total disasters like the Windows 10 version 1809 launch, gradual rollouts were introduced that would prevent feature updates from being delivered via Windows Update to the majority of machines in the early days of the release.
Closing Words

Microsoft exchanged the in-house Testing team with Telemetry data that it gathers from Insider Builds that it pushes to consumer and business devices, and replaced much of the PCs that it used for testing with virtual environments.

All of that led to an increased number of issues and bugs that customers face on production machines when installing Windows updates or feature updates.


Last modified on 24 September 2019
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