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In a recent announcement, Microsoft changed the face of the software industry. Tired of constant criticism for releasing buggy software, Microsoft has created the most sophisticated and exhaustive software testing program in the industry’s history.

Providing unrestricted participation opportunities to the public, and (in a rare break with tradition) also to competitors, Microsoft will allow interested parties to obtain pre-release software for field critique. In the spirit of user-pays, participation fees are product-version specific. On payment of fees, participants will receive the most recent version of the software and a toll-free number for verbal bug reports in urgent situations. Microsoft regrets that it is forced by government regulations to charge a $200 handling fee per verbal bug report, however this is not the case for written or email bug reports.

"This is, in any case, a small price to pay for quick response in what is the largest testing operation in history," Microsoft’s marketing manager was reported as saying. "All subsequent communications with Microsoft," he added, "should refer to previously distributed versions whose versions are less than three as ‘product-name gamma, previous-version-number.’ Naturally, because these are pre-release versions, users must accept that software faults are inevitable, and be prepared to bear related costs. This is, unfortunately, unavoidable with incomplete test software."

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