Saturday, January 24, 2009

Many Bugs in Microsoft Technical Documentation


I believe I am a good technical writer. I have won lots of professional awards and I've been writing in the IT industry for 19 years. Yeah...until this month. Now I'm a causality of the Bush depression.

Many software developers and companies, especially very small operations, deliver inadequate or no documentation. You've probably experienced that. I have. Some companies make you buy the documentation (if you want it) and do not include it with the software.

You might think that Microsoft, because of its size and big pockets, would be a leader in good technical documentation even if it is not included with the product. However, this example offers some evidence to the contrary. And this court case involves just one area of the company's business. I wonder if these problems are more widespread?

This story should serve as a warning to those IT companies that do not employ technical writers because they do not see the value. I believe technical writers often save companies money by reducing the need for support calls and by protecting them against such lawsuits.
The number of bugs in technical documentation for Microsoft communication protocols continues to grow, according to court documents filed for ongoing antitrust oversight of the company in the U.S.

The technical documentation had 1,660 identified bugs as of Dec. 31, up from 1,196 bugs on Nov. 30, according to a Microsoft antitrust status report filed late Wednesday. Microsoft employees identified 613 bugs in December and closed 531 bugs, the court documents said. A technical committee working with Microsoft on compliance with the November 2002 antitrust judgment also identified 517 bugs in the documentation.

Problems with the technical documentation remain the major complaint from lawyers representing the group of 19 states that joined the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. Lawyers for the states have complained repeatedly that technical documentation issues, or TDIs, are opening faster than Microsoft can close them.
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There are more than 20,000 pages of technical documentation, the court documents said. [infoworld.com]
If Microsoft would pay me to relocate or allow me work from home, I would be glad to give them a hand.
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