Mission: Impossible. Submitting a Bug Report to Microsoft

by Chuck Toporek


Okay, here's my problem. I'm using Microsoft Office v.X on Mac OS X and have found an annoying little bug. It's not critical, but it can be a pain in the ass, particularly if you don't save your file before doing it. The problem goes like this:




  • I'm editing a file in Word v.X with revision tracking turned on and the Formatting Palette is open.

  • I decide that I don't want the Formatting Palette open because it takes up too much screen space on my Wall Street (yes, let's not go there).

  • I click on the Close window button on the Formatting Palette.

  • Word crashes




Granted, this doesn't happen all the time, but since this is the third time it's happened in the same number of weeks, I figure it's time to submit a bug report to Microsoft. And, since I'm a good Mac user, I've enabled Crash Logs in the Console app (/Applications/Utilities) so I can just copy and paste the crash log into an email.




Seems kinda painless and easy, right? Well, guess again -- and it's not the Mac's fault.




So, I put together an email, describing what's happened, what I did to make it happen, and thank the good folks at Microsoft for taking the time to look into it. Not knowing the email address to send it to, I figured that -- knowing the tech-savvy company that Microsoft is -- probably sending the mail to bugs@microsoft.com would probably work.




Wrong answer! The mail bounced.




Hrmph!




Next stop: Microsoft's Mac webpage.




Hmmm...nothing here giving me a clue on how to submit a bug report.




Click on the Support link; nothing there either.




After chasing various links, going to Microsoft's main page, and even going to their Developer page, I figure there has to be something here that tells me how to submit a bug report.




Well, nothing's obvious, so I click on the "Contact Us" link and get taken to a page that looks promising. The first link on the page tells me:




Contact technical support, ask a question, report a bug or send comments about technical support.



Now I'm getting somewhere.




Wrong answer -- AGAIN!




Now I get taken to a page with a bunch of links, and none of them say anything about how to submit a bug report. Being the neophyte that I now feel like, I click on the "Contact Microsoft Online" link so I can:




"Send your question to our support professionals over the Internet."



Okay, this is getting really painful, but I figure I'll click on one last link. And, as you might have guessed, this gets me absolutely nowhere.




Now I'm asked to set up a Passport account so I can send a bug report to Microsoft's support people? I don't want to create a Passport account -- I WANT TO SUBMIT A FREAKIN' BUG REPORT!!




Sheesh! What happened to the days of the web when you could click on a "Contact Us" link and get taken to a page that lists -- what else -- contact info for things that people will need, like customer service or tech support, or how about "Submit a Bug"?




So, in case anyone from Microsoft -- particularly the Office v.X team -- is out there, reading my blog or whatever, here's the crash report from the Console I tried sending to bugs@microsoft.com, which bounced back to me.




Thank you, and have a nice day.




Chuck




P.S. You might want to consider some usability testing for your web site.












From: postmaster@microsoft.com

To: chuck@oreilly.com

Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 07:38:44 -0700

MIME-Version: 1.0

Subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure)



This is an automatically generated Delivery Status

Notification.



Delivery to the following recipients failed.




bugs@microsoft.com



Date: Mon, 03 Jun 2002 10:41:37 -0400

From: Chuck Toporek

Reply-To: chuck@oreilly.com

Organization: O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en-US; rv:1.0rc3) Gecko/20020523

To: bugs@microsoft.com

Subject: Crash report for Office v.X



Hi there,



I hope I've got the right address for this, if not, please

forward this mail along to the appropriate person.



I've found a possible bug when working in Word for Office

v.X under Mac OS X 10.1.5.



When working in a Word file with the text palette open, if

I click the close window button on the text palette to

minimize it back to the toolbar, Word crashes and produces

the following crash report in the Console.



Please take a look at this, as this has happened more than

once.



Thanks,



Chuck Toporek, Editor

chuck@oreilly.com * 617-499-7503

+-----------------------------------------------------------+





Date/Time: 2002-06-03 10:36:10 -0400

OS Version: 10.1.5 (Build 5S45)

Host: dhcp-254-25.east.ora.com



Command: Microsoft Word
PID: 305



Exception: EXC_BAD_ACCESS (0x0001)

Codes: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE (0x0002) at 0x000000ac



Thread 0 Crashed:

#0 0x01288748 in 0x1288748

#1 0x012d115c in 0x12d115c

#2 0x012d16c8 in 0x12d16c8

#3 0x0128a0cc in 0x128a0cc

#4 0x012456ec in 0x12456ec

#5 0x0121f708 in 0x121f708

#6 0x0121f60c in 0x121f60c

#7 0x73118b18 in DispatchEventToHandlers

#8 0x73101da8 in SendEventToEventTargetInternal

#9 0x73150048 in SendEventToEventTargetWithOptions

#10 0x732abc64 in SendShowHideEvent(OpaqueWindowPtr *, unsigned char,

unsigned char)

#11 0x731c78fc in ShowHide

#12 0x0123eac8 in 0x123eac8

#13 0x0123e8cc in 0x123e8cc

#14 0x0123e7fc in 0x123e7fc

#15 0x0123e930 in 0x123e930

#16 0x01288eb8 in 0x1288eb8

#17 0x0128ac48 in 0x128ac48

#18 0x0121f968 in 0x121f968

#19 0x0121f708 in 0x121f708

#20 0x0121f60c in 0x121f60c

#21 0x73118b18 in DispatchEventToHandlers

#22 0x73101da8 in SendEventToEventTargetInternal

#23 0x73150048 in SendEventToEventTargetWithOptions

#24 0x732ac590 in SendWindowEvent

#25 0x73245894 in GenerateWindowButtonClickAction

#26 0x731db664 in HandleWindowEvent

#27 0x732bfe9c in StandardWindowEventHandler

#28 0x73118b18 in DispatchEventToHandlers

#29 0x73101da8 in SendEventToEventTargetInternal

#30 0x731b65c8 in SendEventToEventTarget

#31 0x73201e14 in CompleteWindowEvent

#32 0x731c1a9c in SendEventFromMouseDown

#33 0x732756a8 in HandleWindowClick

#34 0x7326ebc4 in HandleMouseEvent

#35 0x732bfe90 in StandardWindowEventHandler

#36 0x73118b18 in DispatchEventToHandlers

#37 0x73101da8 in SendEventToEventTargetInternal

#38 0x731b65c8 in SendEventToEventTarget

#39 0x7310c5d4 in HandleMouseEventForWindow

#40 0x7310d73c in HandleMouseEvent

#41 0x731ac044 in ToolboxEventDispatcherHandler

#42 0x73118bc4 in DispatchEventToHandlers

#43 0x73101da8 in SendEventToEventTargetInternal

#44 0x731b65c8 in SendEventToEventTarget

#45 0x0124448c in 0x124448c

#46 0x00710f40 in 0x710f40

#47 0x006501a0 in 0x6501a0

#48 0x01396dcc in 0x1396dcc

#49 0x0064fbe8 in 0x64fbe8



Thread 1:

#0 0x70030bbc in accept

#1 0x02df2558 in FWaitForConnection

#2 0x012cedb4 in 0x12cedb4

#3 0x012f8498 in 0x12f8498

#4 0x012f8628 in 0x12f8628

#5 0x702cbcc4 in _MP_CFMTaskProc

#6 0x702831a0 in PrivateMPEntryPoint

#7 0x7002054c in _pthread_body



Thread 2:

#0 0x7002529c in recvfrom

#1 0x02df2710 in FReceiveMessage

#2 0x012f8814 in 0x12f8814

#3 0x012f895c in 0x12f895c

#4 0x702cbcc4 in _MP_CFMTaskProc

#5 0x702831a0 in PrivateMPEntryPoint

#6 0x7002054c in _pthread_body



Thread 3:

#0 0x70044cf8 in semaphore_timedwait_signal_trap

#1 0x70044cd8 in semaphore_timedwait_signal

#2 0x70283e9c in TSWaitOnConditionTimedRelative

#3 0x702ae8b4 in MPWaitOnSemaphore

#4 0x012f8ac8 in 0x12f8ac8

#5 0x702cbcc4 in _MP_CFMTaskProc

#6 0x702831a0 in PrivateMPEntryPoint

#7 0x7002054c in _pthread_body



Thread 4:

#0 0x7003f4c8 in semaphore_wait_signal_trap

#1 0x7003f2c8 in _pthread_cond_wait

#2 0x70250aa8 in TSWaitOnCondition

#3 0x7027d728 in TSWaitOnSemaphoreCommon

#4 0x70243d0c in AsyncFileThread

#5 0x7002054c in _pthread_body



Thread 5:

#0 0x70000978 in mach_msg_overwrite_trap

#1 0x70005a04 in mach_msg

#2 0x70026a2c in _pthread_become_available

#3 0x70026724 in pthread_exit

#4 0x70020550 in _pthread_body



PPC Thread State:

srr0: 0x01288748 srr1: 0x0000f030 vrsave: 0x00000000

xer: 0x20000008 lr: 0x0128872c ctr: 0x01288710 mq: 0x00000000

r0: 0x0128872c r1: 0xbfffde90 r2: 0x00258000 r3: 0x02f64fa0

r4: 0xbfffdf1c r5: 0x00000000 r6: 0x04493c3c r7: 0x000003ff

r8: 0x000000af r9: 0x80240e10 r10: 0x04b83170 r11: 0x834e1424

r12: 0x00000000 r13: 0x00000000 r14: 0x00000000 r15: 0x00000000

r16: 0x00000000 r17: 0x00000000 r18: 0x00000000 r19: 0x00000006

r20: 0x00000000 r21: 0x00000001 r22: 0x72d4e87f r23: 0x00000000

r24: 0x00000000 r25: 0x00000000 r26: 0x002697bc r27: 0x002f2ac0

r28: 0xbfffdf1c r29: 0x00000000 r30: 0x00000000 r31: 0x00000000



**********




Have a similar experience dealing with Microsoft's web site or customer service? Vent your frustrations here.


12 Comments

kbedell
2002-06-04 08:57:05
MS XP snoops your system and reports bugs for you
As I recall, MS XP has code built into it to notify MS behind the scenes whenever an app crashes.


In fact, the default setting (again, as I recall) is for XP to send MS info on your system whenever ANY application crashes - not just MS applications.


What a great way for them to gather all kinds of statistics on your usage patterns, all the software (and licensing info) you may have on your machine.


MS doesn't make it easy for you to send them info because they already are tracking all kinds of things about you and your system - they already have more info than you could likely send them.


Of course, when you clicked "OK" on the End User License Agreement, you gave them permission to do all this. And to do whatever they want with the info they ather on you.



giles_hoover
2002-06-04 09:05:39
Passport requirement
I just wanted to post a quick message of envy over your use of 10.1.5 before the rest of us -- but couldn't until I'd set up an account. All ironical considering the article's bitching about having to set up an account on the M$ site... Take your own damn advice!
hadleysw
2002-06-04 09:59:42
Re:Submitting bug report
Did you happen to look under "Help" in Word? That's more basic than RTFM. You will find "Send Feedback on Word". I reported a bug last week using that and got a response in a couple hours. They asked for copies of the document and spreadsheet showing the bug. I sent them in and they wrote back admitting the bug and saying they would add it to the bug list. They gave a work-around but it was not as satisfactory as what I had already worked up.
chuckdude
2002-06-05 10:29:41
Re:Submitting bug report


Nope, I didn't think of that. It's good to know that feature exists and it works well, though.


I just heard back from someone at MS and they said you could send mail to mactopia@microsoft.com.


Chuck

chuckdude
2002-06-05 10:48:36
Passport requirement
I was complaining (or "bitching") about how hard it was to submit something as simple as a bug report to Microsoft.


After having a message bounce to what seemed like a logical address for a software company to have, and going through link after link on their website to find a place to send the bug report to, I gave up.


I was "bitching" more about the unusability of their site more than anything else. I just wanted an address to send the report to and couldn't find one anywhere.


Chuck

mrbach
2002-06-10 17:19:10
MS XP isn't on a Mac
The Mac OSX version of Word does not send any information to Microsoft, which seems like a good reason to stay away from XP. That is unbelievable that it sends out bug reports in the background.
anonymous2
2003-04-19 04:32:50
Re:Submitting bug report
That's not easy to find. Who would search for a bug submit form under "Help"?


There should be a link on the M$ support website, though. For example, what do I do if I want to submit a bug report for calc.exe?

anonymous2
2003-08-29 01:56:36
similar experiences
After being frustrated sending a report to Microsoft about a bug in Internet Explorer that i found, i have similar experiences.


The bug I found is reproducable, and I have found some notifications of it on internet by others. It concerns an error with fileupload in a form where lots of data are posted.


I found it because one of our customers complained about errors on the web application I had developped. After looking into it, there was only one conclusion possible: it wasn't my fault in coding, it's a bug in Internet Explorer.


Then I tried to find out where to report the bug. That isn't easy, but there is a site http://support.microsoft.com which says something "Microsoft Wish", and you can submit suggestions how to improve MS products. That would be close enough i thought.


So I send in my bug report, and included some code that would reproduce the bug.


First answer was this:


=================
Thank you for your inquiry to support@microsoft.com.


Your e-mail message was received on Aug 27 2003 4:17PM and will be handled personally by one of our Customer Service Representatives. We are committed to answering all of your inquiries and will reply to your request within 24 hours.


To explore our online support options or locate a phone number to contact us, please go to http://support.microsoft.com/directory/default.asp


Thank you,


Microsoft Online Customer Service
=======================


Also the e-mail had some report number in the subject, so it should have been filed somewhere with a unique name, which could be referred to.
That's ok I though, I guess somebody will answer me soon. Which happened a few hours later.


========================
Hello,

Thank you for contacting Microsoft Customer Service.

My name is Nigel and I understand that you would like to report a bug in Internet Explorer. I am a Customer Service router, not a Technical Support Professional and I will be directing you to the most appropriate area so that you can receive support.

If you feel you have encountered an undocumented error in your Microsoft product, please reply to this e-mail address with the following information:


(follows a list of what MS wants to know, like Windows version, computer specs etc)


=======================


That's fine, at least I found someone who replies although after this I think that Nigels might have been a bot. But anyway I replied to that email, included again my description of the problem and zipped the code that reproduces the bug, included that in the e-mail. And i referred to some messages on internet which referred to the same bug. I had done a search, and had found a number of others who had met the problem, and taken the effort to publish it on a forum.


If anyone is interested, here are 2 of those links.


http://mathforum.org/epigone/modperl/sweuphendbrong/1058384992.1312.41.camel@beast


http://www.houseoffusion.com/cf_lists/cache/4/23/23107.htm


In the meantime my boss thought that I had spend enough hours on the problem, and that we should just tell our customers that the bug sometimes occurs, and that it's not our fault, and that they should not post large amounts of texts, because then the bug sometimes appears.
I could understand my boss. I thought also that I had paid MS a favor by spending so much time to find out what was going wrong - it's really not easy to understand what was going wrong.


I suspect that apart from Nigel, Microsoft has another "bot" to reply on bug reports. The next bot is female, and called "Kathy E." Here is what she wrote me:


========================
Hello xxxx,

Thank you for contacting Microsoft Customer Service.

I understand you would like to report a bug in our software. A bug is defined as a coding error
in a computer program that causes a program to malfunction or to produce incorrect results.

We appreciate the feedback you have provided. I would like to ask that you report this bug via U.S. Mail, at the following address:

Attn: Development Group
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

Please note, the letter should include a complete description of the bug including the actions,
software, and hardware associated with the bug and whether or not it is consistently reproducible.

Thank you for using Microsoft products & services,

Kathy E.
==================================


I have given up. I told Kathy so, but I wonder if a bot can understand a message like that.


FedoraFlunkee
2005-04-06 09:54:32
Un-usability
I enjoyed this post. The important thing here for anyone from Microsoft (or any other company with a web presence) to know is that finding information on a web site should be an enjoyable experience. When you click on "Contact Us", and are presented with babble about how important your input is, but no way to send it - it shows the user/customer that double-speak is your speciality. When it takes more than a few clicks to arrive at nonsense - when you expect information is simply frustrating for the end user and does not inspire cofidence. Microsofts web site is vast - and I understand the problem: I just don't enjoy infinite loops in web surfing the MS site... fix it please! (Yes - I bitch about MS all the time, but hey - I want to fit in).
rickdex
2005-10-19 07:47:39
Submitting a reply to your Blog
So I click the "post comment" link and I immediately get taken to a "create your orielley account" page. I DON'T WANT TO CREATE A FREAKING ORIELLEY ACCOUNT, I WANT TO POST A COMMENT.


Practice what you preach.


2006-02-13 03:43:30
"Send Feedback on Word" doesn't exist on the windows office 2003 versions! Gah!



2006-06-05 18:14:07
posting a comment is different from submitting a bug report, anyone should be able to easily submit bugs, but if you're posting comments then an account is suitable to avoid system abuse