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A Buggy Home Server

A few weeks ago, I gave a generally upbeat review to Microsoft?? new Windows Home Server product. I may have been a bit premature.

It turns out that the software has a nasty bug, first reported by Computerworld, that can cause corruption of data when files from certain programs are saved to the server. The programs affected include Intuit Quicken and Quickbooks, files downloaded using BitTorrent-type software, and Microsoft?? own Money 2007 aqnd OneNote. Microsoft says it is working on a fix; full details are in a KnowledgeBase article.

As a reviewer, I find this sort of thing extremely frustrating. It is very rare for me to get to spend enough time with a product, or to test it for long enough, for me to really be satisfied with my own thoroughness. When I do find bugs in software--and I have found many of them over the years--I report them and, if they haven't been fixed by the time I write about the product, I mention them in the review.

But it is very discouraging that a bug like this, which strikes at the heart of the server's usefulness, should have escaped Microsoft's own testing. Microsoft actually delayed release of the product for nearly three months to fix bugs, and it looks like it wasn't long enough.

Microsoft usually catches "show stopper" bugs during extensive public beta tests of new software, which subject programs to a far wider range of conditions than could be possible under controlled tests. Because Windows Home Server is intended only to be sold as part of a hardware package (although you can buy a copy of the software alone if you look hard enough), that sort of testing was not done--and this bug is the unfortunate result.

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