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Microsoft's Lack of Nightly Builds For IE 154

Ricky writes "Many wonder why Microsoft doesn't offer nightly builds of Internet Explorer — or at least something more frequent than months-to-years. Ars talks with Microsoft's general manager for IE, who says the IE9 development cycle will look much the same as previous versions. Not a great idea."
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Microsoft's Lack of Nightly Builds For IE

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  • Obvious... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:14PM (#30177376) Journal

    Many wonder why Microsoft doesn't offer nightly builds of Internet Explorer

    Um, because they never have and never will?

  • Security Updates? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:17PM (#30177442) Homepage

    Umm, isn't that what Update Tuesdays are for? Constantly patching IE along with other OS updates?

  • Re:Obvious... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:18PM (#30177478)
    For the same reason Apple doesn't release nightly builds of Safari? (Yes, I understand they release nightly builds of Webkit).

    Nobody else uses Trident (IE's rendering engine), and if Trident breaks, a lot of other stuff in Windows breaks. They don't want to release development versions of their browser, because their corporate customers don't want users breaking things.

    Frankly, I'm wondering what benefit nightlies would have for MS, who does pretty much all of their testing in-house.
  • Normal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:21PM (#30177520)
    WTF? Most companies don't release nightly builds of their software. Why on earth are we singling out Microsoft, and only one of their products at that? Infrequent releases are the norm, not the exception, and while you may argue that it should change, it's ludicrous to single out one program among thousands for following the standard practice.
  • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:22PM (#30177536)

    Additionally, the article seems to take some things for granted...

    the reality is that every other browser has a more regular release cycle than IE does, and that keeps them relevant.

    I guess Opera's release and development cycle(s) is why it is so popular!

    The result is a strong perception that IE is lagging behind, no matter how great the major release versions are.

    The perception that IE is lagging behind has nothing to do with a bad development cycle, it's more tied to ... bad development and a not-very-good product.

    and the browser's updates are pushed through Windows Update. The actual browser doesn't have its own updating system, and this is a large part of the reason that over 40 percent of users are still using IE6 and IE7.

    That's an interesting assertion. The only backup he gives are numbers for browser stats.

    On the whole, this seems like one guy doing an editorial and talking off the cuff. That's how it struck me, anyways.

  • Re:Obvious... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:23PM (#30177558)
    The better question would be why Ricky believes not releasing nightly builds is "not a great idea". What part of Microsoft's standard development cycle would benefit from nightly builds? Why would Microsoft decide to release nightly builds, which are inherently unstable, to a public that loves to pick on MS for producing unstable software? Why would MS risk some bored journalist writing a hit piece on IE 9 based on a particularly faulty nightly build just on the off chance someone out in the ether might give them some useful feedback on it?

    In short, why the hell would they release nightly builds?
  • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:23PM (#30177564)

    The author of the article seems to think IE should be treated separately from Windows.

    I guess Konqueror should have it's own update system, the OS update system isn't good enough?

  • Re:Normal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:25PM (#30177584) Journal
    Presumably because, while IE is quite similar to the class of "proprietary software", it is quite unusual among the desktop browsers.

    Whether or not you think that it is a good idea for there to be IE nightly builds, it isn't exactly absurd to judge a product by the standards of other similar products, rather than other products with similar licenses.
  • Re:Obvious... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El Lobo ( 994537 ) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:29PM (#30177658)
    I wonder if dear kdawson really knows what "a build" is... or if he just saw the words "Microsoft" and "bad idea" and just began salivating...

    Shitty article. Nothing to see here....

  • Who is Many? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clinko ( 232501 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:32PM (#30177696) Journal

    "Many wonder why Microsoft doesn't offer nightly builds of Internet Explorer."

    Whoever "Many" is, they seem to always be interviewed by Ars and FoxNews.

  • by maxrate ( 886773 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:43PM (#30177882)
    Why is the finger always at Microsoft? I vote we embargo the use of the word Microsoft on Slashdot, say, for a month. Usually any Microsoft related post is biased and ill-spirited - getting very old. There are countless software vendors that do not release nightly builds. As much as I adore Slashdot, all the MS haters on here often make me feel as if I'm associating myself with a 'new low' of computer users (sometimes). Kinda like finding yourself in the company of a bunch of racists. It's very fashionable on \. to hate Microsoft. Don't like their stuff?...simply use something else and STFU. I do agree with the article's opinion of saying the update process Microsoft uses is broken - I think Microsoft can do better.
  • Re:Obvious... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sohp ( 22984 ) <snewton@iERDOSo.com minus math_god> on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:46PM (#30177948) Homepage

    'if Trident breaks, a lot of other stuff in Windows breaks'

    Which is, of course, precisely the reason to have a meaningful suite of automated tests and frequent build/test cycles. You'd rather work 6 months on something and then throw it over the wall to testers only to have them come back with either hundreds of regression failures (best case) or a handful of failures so severe they couldn't even get past the basic smoke test script?

    That's even before you get to your user community, which as the article points out happened with IE8, when the beta is sprung on the web development world with catastrophic amounts of breakage of existing pages?

  • by Osrin ( 599427 ) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:57PM (#30178154) Homepage

    Filed under "weirdest story ever to appear on /."

    Next week we can discuss the outrage that stems from Microsoft's refusal to offer free back massages on the New York subway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:57PM (#30178166)

    Plus, with Firefox if you file a bug they [...] generally fix it right away

    No they dont.


  • by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @06:26PM (#30178622)

    Maybe you hadn't noticed, but development of IE7 and IE8 have not been tied to a specific OS at all. IE7 was released before Vista and installs on XP, and IE8 well before Win 7 and that installs on Vista and XP. Microsoft has said that IE9 will be released in 2010, while Windows 8 is set for 2012. IE and Office are both on different development timetables than Windows -- although Office is almost always released 6 to 8 months after a desktop Windows release. Sure, they're linked in some senses because each product has a target platform, but otherwise there is no specific tie-in.

    Microsoft's fiscal incentive is to maintain market dominance and some semblance of standards compliance. If they lose too much market share, developers may not create websites to handle IE quirks any longer. Then IE will falter, and MS will not be able to develop web apps only for IE, which is part of their strategy to lock-in users to Windows.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @07:36PM (#30179578)

    Why is the finger always at Microsoft?

    Because many of us use their stuff and despair at the problems that arise that we cannot fix and the Microsoft will ignore.
    That creates a culture of just complaining to each other about the company in general. We say to each other things like "this was the company that was given the BSD source code on a plate and still couldn't get even ping right" and other things non-techies would find completely irrelevent.
    Just filter the MS stories out - there's not going to be much else other than jaded comments from those subjected to years of MS hype that treat every announcement from MS as a lie. In hindsight they may be right nearly every time, but to start with it's a preconception. It's not like racism, it's not "all dogs bite" but instead "that ornery blue eyed dog is going to bite me again I just know it".

  • Re:Obvious... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbhacking ( 979169 ) <been_out_cruising-slashdot@@@yahoo...com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:44PM (#30180880) Homepage Journal

    As somebody who has frequently participated in beta tests of lots of software, including Microsoft's, this is spot-on. Sure, their infrequent betas get some good feedback and some good bug reports, but they also get absolutely drowned in a deluge of people on the discussion boards (newsgroups, actually) who complain about:
    A) Nothing particular at all, they just signed on to complain.
    B) Stuff that's completely unrelated to the beta (such as a complaint about IE6 on the IE8 beta discussion)
    C) Stuff that's completely unrelated to the product (complaints about Excel on the IE8 board)
    D) "How dare Microsoft release [a beta of] this product with such-and-such [known, sometimes in release notes] bug!"
    E) "WTF I installed the latest version of X, and now I can't access my Y, so I'm switching to competitor Z and never buying anything Microsoft again!"

    F) Complaints about Beta 1 bugs during Beta 2 or RC test phases.
    G) Complaints from people who installed the software on a production machine, and expect Microsoft to provide support for it.

    These are the types of morons that Microsoft has to deal with. I've seen some of this type of behavior in other betas, to be sure, but some of the problems, especially D, E, and G, are most common on the MS betas. People just seem to expect that any code from MS will be production-ready and expects the company to stand behind their software as though it were a released product.

    Microsoft would be *insane* to release nightly builds to a group like that. A closed beta nightly program, maybe (participants culled from those who are actually useful and productive on the public beta) but certainly not open. Especially considering point F above; people already can't always keep up with the pace of the infrequent releases, and asking them to identify the build number they're using would be an exercise in futility for far too many.

  • Re:Normal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @05:32AM (#30182976)

    Safari != webkit, Chromium != Google Chrome. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    Webkit is a rendering engine. Its pretty useless without supporting code. The link you gave links you to a loadable library essentially. The app icon you get for OSX actually runs a script that has Safari use the webkit library from the package, but the UI and everything else is still the same old Safari thats installed on the system.

    If someone bothered to put the effort into it, you could stuff IE's renderer into Safari on Windows, or you could stuff Firefox's Gecko into Safari on Windows or Mac.

    Chromium is not Chrome. They may share a common tree, but they aren't the same either. Chrome may be built from a snapshot of the chromium tree, but that doesn't give you nightlies of chrome.

    So now we're down to ... Firefox is the only browser with Nightly builds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 21, 2009 @11:42AM (#30184628)

    coolforsale issues problems did not deliver ordered a product failed to send duplicated charge credit card stolen cheat spam coolforsale complaint

    (fair is fair - we don't want your spam, you don't want to be linked with negative keywords, so go away or I shall taunt you an n+1 time)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.