How many versions does a bug have to exist before backporting the fix can't be successfully argued?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/11/27 10:01 -05:00, original URI:

Some people may recall the blog that represents one of my favorite bug titles, namely Romanian keyboard is wrong, Wrong, WRONG!, in the blog entitled The Romanian keyboard layout on XP is the brokenest layout of all.

That keyboard, and the various changes that were proposed to it in Vista, really did stretch the keyboard stability policy to the absolute limit.

On the one hand, we never change keyboard layouts, ever, even if they are completely wrong and honestly even if they are completely stupid.

However, on the other hand, the reason it is freaking broken is that this policy was violated rather severely in the port from Win9x to the NE platform. Most of the proposed fixes were to recover from that regression, one that had existed in every 32-bit and 64-bit version of NT-based Windows that had ever shipped.

And on the one hand, we cannot change the cedilla-below characters to be comma-below characters because that too would be a violation of the stability policy.

However, on the other hand, the intent of the keyboard layout was clearly to represent the characters used by the Romanian language, which has at this point been completely recognized to need comma-below characters, not cedilla-below ones.

Four entirely independent arguments, the pairs of which blatantly contradictory and all of which I could have seen argued either way.

In the end, the first two were resolved by making the change due to the clear and obvious regression, and the last two were resolved by not making the change, since doing so would leave no solution for non-Unicode applications since the characters were in no code page.

Okay, that is it for the review. Now to the new twist!

The recent mail that came in:

If this is not too late, I would like to ask for fixing the dead keys issue in the Romanian keyboard layout for Windows XP, to be included in SP3. I mean the old and only one Romanian keyboard layout in XP, which was later called "Romanian (Legacy)" in Windows Vista (but this has nothing to do with Vista's added layouts, or layout names change, or anything else). It should be just a fix for an ancient bug, suitable for inclusion in a service pack for XP.

Boy, this one keyboard sure does pile up a lot of grief, doesn't it? :-)

To be honest, I have no idea what they will do here. I truly don't.

I'm actually not even sure what my recommendation would be, if someone asked (and no one really has, at least not officially).

I could argue this one either way as the points on both sides are valid and I won't be able to claim disappointment no matter what side "wins" the battle.

Out of idle curiosity, how would you choose for this one?

Pretend it was up to you with all of the issues and pressures, if the question were put to you.

What would you do?

And why?


This post brought to you by Ș (U+0218, a.k.a. LATIN CAPITAL LETTER S WITH COMMA BELOW)

# Stuart Ballard on 27 Nov 2007 11:00 AM:

This suggestion may be completely stupid but I can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong with it. Which probably means that something very obvious is wrong with it if I had the slightest bit of knowledge about the problem domain.

But anyway... why not just do the following:

- Rename the old keyboard to "Romanian (legacy)".

- Create a new keyboard "Romanian (new)" or something that works the way it ought to.

- Change the default for new Romanian installations to use the new keyboard.

- Eventually phase out installing the old one at all.

That way your legacy keyboard remained stable, the new one has no backcompat issues, and everyone's happy?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 27 Nov 2007 11:54 AM:

This is in fact what we did for Vista (minus the phasing out). But for XP? I doubt that would be in the plan....

# Stuart Ballard on 27 Nov 2007 12:59 PM:

Then an even more stupid question - how about just making the new keyboard AVAILABLE on XP, not switching the default, and let users who are experiencing problems switch keyboards manually?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 27 Nov 2007 1:57 PM:

One of the biggest adoption blockers of service packs is the perception and also the reality of feature creep -- so as a rule new features are often forbidden in service packs, for better or worse....

# Mihai on 27 Nov 2007 2:43 PM:

I might make some enemies here, but I would say: for XP, forget it!

Those dead keys might produce 77 characters, but are not needed for Romanian. You can nicely produce all the Romanian characters with the current keyboard (ok, with cedilla instead of comma for t and s).

As a fast developing European country, fresh member of EU and all, there is a great demand of producing documents in French, German, and other languages. There is where the those dead-keys are nice to have. It is the equivalent of the "United States-International" keyboard.

And before starting the flaming: I am Romanian myself. But I am also a programmer and I know the price of such changes. C'mon! We managed to live with XP as it is for so many years. And we like it or not, XP is dying. And we have MSKLC if we really-really want it.

# Maurits [MSFT] on 28 Nov 2007 4:26 PM:

If it was me, I wouldn't put it in SP3, but I /would/ make it an optional Windows Update.

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referenced by

2008/01/28 What does the [cracked] SiaO crystal ball say about language support in XP SP3?

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