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VMware CEO apologizes for ‘time bomb’ mess

VMware also quashed rumors that the time bomb was anything but a failure of its quality control process

Just minutes after VMware Inc. issued a patch late Tuesday that allowed enterprises to start up crippled virtual servers, the company’s CEO said he was sorry for the snafu.

“I want to apologize for the disruption and difficulty this issue may have caused to our customers and our partners,” Paul Maritz, the head of VMware, said in an open letter posted to the company’s Web site Tuesday just before midnight EDT.

Tuesday, reports flooded VMware’s support forums from users unable to power-up virtual servers that had been updated to the newest software, which was released in late July.

Users said they were seeing error messages claiming that the virtualization software’s license had expired as of Aug. 12.

Maritz, who was appointed CEO about a month ago, confirmed that VMware developers had left code in recent ESX 3.5 and ESXi Server 3.5 updates that prevented users from powering up virtual machines when the calendar flipped to Aug. 12. The code, he said, was left over from beta versions of the update.

“We failed in two areas,” said Maritz in his mea culpa. “[We failed in] not disabling the code in the final release of Update 2 and not catching it in our quality assurance process.”

Although it’s common practice for developers to code a time limit into their betas in order to force users to upgrade to the final, the deadline — often called a “time bomb” — is supposed to be removed before the final version is released.

“We have kicked off a comprehensive, in-depth review of our QA and release processes, and will quickly make the needed changes,” said Maritz.