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BugNet withholds annual award

After a bug-infested year, the online publication decides not to give an award for bug extermination, calling the industry's 1998 performance "abysmal."

Software companies aren't winning any prizes for their bug-fixing efforts.

After a bug-infested year in software, online publication BugNet has decided to withhold its annual award for bug extermination.

"Frankly, the PC software industry's performance has been abysmal," wrote BugNet editor Bruce Brown in an editorial announcing the withholding of the award. "PCs--and the software products that animate them--don't work very well. The average American would never buy an electric razor, let alone a chain saw or a mountain bike--that was as buggy and unreliable as a PC."

It's the first time since 1994 that BugNet has not given its award.

Brown postulates that with each new version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, software makers across the industry are fixing a lower percentage of bugs.

In addition to the proliferation of bugs and the slowness in fixing them, Brown identified another area where software consumers are at risk: technical support. Software firms are increasingly turning to fee-based or automated tech support, Brown noted, adding that some firms, such as IBM's Lotus Development, are charging customers for bug fixes.

Microsoft and Lotus could not be reached for comment.