Microsoft's Watson technology, for soliciting semi-automatic bug reports from end users and plowing the data back into the bug-fixing effort, has been mostly for the computer industry. But last week at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas, the company demonstrated software to help in-house enterprise developers use Watson to improve ongoing quality and maintenance of in-house applications. While Corporate Error Reporting, as Microsoft calls it, has been available to Software Assurance subscribers since September, Microsoft hasn't highlighted it before. "This is the first show where we've really talked about it a lot," says David Hamilton, a director in Microsoft's Enterprise Management Division.
The public face of Microsoft's Watson technology is the pop-up prompt that confronts users of Office, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 whenever an error occurs that forces an application to shut down. If the user approves sending an error report to Microsoft, Watson sends information on the failure back to Microsoft. Armed with the reports, Microsoft can determine which bugs are causing the most failures and prioritize its bug-fixing efforts accordingly.
In addition to its own applications, Microsoft has encouraged developers of drivers for hardware devices and independent software vendors to take advantage of Watson, as well. Microsoft says it segments its database of bug errors to allow third-parties to see bug reports related to their applications. The company has also approached companies whose drivers caused a disproportionate number of crashes about getting problems fixed.
Most software development, however, takes place not in the computer industry but instead inside companies where internal business applications are written -- and Corporate Error Reporting is designed to extend the benefits of Watson to those users. Continue at source