Microsoft Takes a Break to Clean Its Code
After nearly 25 years of writing software code, Microsoft is taking a break to do a little housecleaning.
The company has ordered a temporary halt in the development of new code
and has instructed its developers to go back and check for
The development team building the next version of Windows, for example, has taken a break to perform an "intense review of the Windows source code," the spokesperson said. That includes reviews and audits of the operating system, or what the company is calling a "code scrub."
Similar efforts are already under way with the development team building Microsoft's Office software, as well as among developers working on its .Net initiative. The effort is expected to extend to other divisions at Microsoft in the next few months, the spokesperson said.
The cleaning frenzy is part of a broader effort dubbed the
Although its intentions may be good, one analyst suspected that the moratorium on new code would throw a wrench into Microsoft's development schedule. "Certainly it has an impact on development plans, on products as well as service packs," says Michael Silver, a software analyst with Gartner.
Most at risk is the first major package of updates and bug fixes for
With the service pack already in danger of delay due to events related to Microsoft's antitrust settlement proposal with the U.S. government, Silver predicts that any security flaws discovered during the house-cleaning effort could add to the work in getting the first service pack out.
"Certainly if they find something interesting they might want to include some other security fixes in [Windows XP] Service Pack 1," he says.
The service pack initially faced a possible delay because of a stipulation in the proposed settlement Microsoft reached with the Department of Justice and nine state attorneys general, Silver says. Terms of that settlement require Microsoft to disclose certain APIs (application program interfaces) for the operating system within a year of the deal being signed or in the first Windows XP service pack; whichever comes first. A judge is expected to rule on that settlement later this month.
Microsoft typically releases the first service pack to a product about six months after the product is launched. That puts the Windows XP Service Pack 1 due for release around April. It's unclear whether the company could meet that schedule if it were required to include the APIs, Silver says.
Besides issuing service packs, users can access the latest security
patches and bug fixes through Microsoft's Windows Update utility. Last week,
Microsoft also released a new type of update that it calls a
Microsoft's director of corporate privacy, Richard Purcell, commented on the code-cleaning effort Friday at a security conference in Washington, D.C., according to a report in the Government Computer Times. He said the effort came about partly because Bill Gates, the company's chairman and chief software architect, "is really annoyed by the incredible pain we put everyone through in computing," according to the report.
That pain has affected both corporate and consumer customers of
Microsoft. Businesses running Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS)
Microsoft's market leadership makes it a prime target for computer hackers and worm builders, according to Rob Enderle, research fellow with Giga Information Group.