Zero-defects code

Tl;dr: Chris Mason at Microsoft wrote a memo on not having any bugs in code

Chris Mason at Microsoft wrote this on Jun 20th, 1989 on zero-defects code.

Zero Defects was a memo that was circulated by the leading development managers (the most senior engineering managers) in Apps and Languages. It was an effort to attempt to get a handle on product death marches and ever-increasing bug counts that were contributing to a broadening view of inevitability as products became more complex.

A key underlying argument put forth was that we were rewarding developers for checking in new code and declaring a feature done, even if it was not. Testers then found a lot of basic bugs. That meant they were preventing more interesting testing from taking place and that more code to fix those bugs was quickly written, delaying the new work, and testers would continue find even more bugs.

Steven Sinofsky posted “Who remembers the first business memo they received that “changed everything”? For me, it was a memo called “Zero Defects” written just before I started at Microsoft. HUGE!” and shares some thoughts on the memo here.

…my first memo, Zero Defects, and the impact it had on me and all of Apps. Microsoft was a company that wrote code but we also wrote memos, especially in Apps. Memos were often 20 or more pages long and printed for circulation via interoffice mail—we were building those tools after all! Also, this is my first performance review.

Zero-defects code

zero-defects code


You can read the rest of the memo collection here.

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