MapPoint users in for long and winding road

A bug in the Microsoft software sends those looking to travel between two Norwegian cities on a trip across much of Western Europe. Image: Can't get there from here

Norwegians might want to use a reality check before trusting directions from Microsoft's online MapPoint service.

A bug in Microsoft's MapPoint software sends those looking to travel between two Norwegian cities on a trip across much of Western Europe. The suggested quickest route between Haugesund and Trondheim is a 1,685-mile journey through Belgium, England, France, Germany and Sweden to make the journey. With two trips across the ocean and a fair bit of overland travel, the site estimates the journey will take some 47 hours and 31 minutes.

The humorous glitch made the rounds on various blogs on Wednesday. Ultimately, Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble posted a blog item of his own, apologizing for the error and indicating that the company is working on a fix.

"I'm sorry about this, lots of people have reported this bug to the team and they are working on a fix," Scoble . "I hear it'll come in February."

Although Microsoft is a very worldly company with offices across the globe, the world's largest software maker has been known to occasionally make a geographic error. In the original version of Windows 95, the world clock function showed only a portion of the disputed Kashmir region as being a part of India and the government threatened a ban. Microsoft recalled 200,000 copies, costing the company millions of dollars.

To avoid a repeat, Microsoft's no longer separates the world into countries within the clock, but the company has managed to make other cultural faux pas.

Because of a translation error, a version of Windows XP aimed at Latin American markets asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch." In another case, Microsoft used chanting of the Koran as background music for a computer game, prompting the Saudi Arabian government to ban the game.

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by Iyaz Akhtar