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Microsoft has moved to contain growing criticism from beta testers that it's railroading the Windows 7 and Windows Live test programs, leaving bugs unfixed.

Windows chief Steven Sinofsky has invited technical beta testers to contact him and provide details of areas where they feel Microsoft is not listening to their feedback.

Sinofsky was responding to a post on GeekSmack that questioned the whole value of a test program. The post claimed Microsoft has left long-standing bugs in Windows Live unfixed and appears to be prepping for the Windows 7 release candidate just weeks after floating the public beta in January.

According to forum member Chris123NT, Microsoft has started compiling RC1 branch builds. The suggestion is Windows 7 RC1 will arrive within the next month of two. Earlier this month, Sinofsky said release candidate was the next step after the Windows 7 beta.

"One build is not enough to gather enough feedback to move ahead this quickly IMO. Windows is a far more complex piece of software than Office [Sinofsky was Office senior vice president] and I hope Mr. Sinofsky can learn that before this beta cycle is over," Christ123NT wrote on GeekSmack.

Sinofsky has justified the public beta saying the broad beta process is providing more feedback than the company could have garnered through limited technical betas. Chris123NT pointed out, though, that .SQM data and feedback alone won't fix rogue usability, application incompatibility, or driver issues and that testers need regular builds to assess progress.

"I am a part of the Windows 7 beta and I am not pleased with what I am seeing. There is no incentive to testing anymore, anything we get the public gets, so can someone remind me why I'm on the techbeta? We have gotten no new builds, our feedback is not being taken seriously," Christ123NT said.

Forum members called on Microsoft to slow down and plan more than a single release candidate. Arkon wrote Microsoft's was doing better on fixes than it did on Windows Vista: "But isn't a RC a tad too quick?" he said.

"Spend a bit more time and fix the bugs. Improve places that you've overlooked. Spend a day or two just going through the OS to find things that could be fixed. Take your time, we're in no rush to use a buggy operating system."

He also pointed to several unaddressed bugs in Windows Live that have made it into the Release Candidate. Chris123NT also complained of bugs in Live Mail that testers had submitted and had not been fixed. ®

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