Apparently, there are some Microsoft programmers out there who really love boobs, enough to sneak a variant of the phrase big boobs into official Microsoft code.
In a piece of software connecting the Linux kernel to Microsoft's HyperV program, a small piece of hexadecimal code reading 0xB16B00B5 was found. Translated from geekspeak, the code reads, BIG BOOBS.
The piece of code was first noticed when programmer Paolo Bonzini submitted the find to the Linux Kernel Mailing List. It then made the rounds on all manner of programming-related sites.
When Microsoft noticed the offending code, it set the record straight that it is not official company policy to refer to breasts in code.
We thank the community for reporting this issue and apologize for the offensive string. We have submitted a patch to fix this issue and the change will be published in a future release of the kernel, Microsoft told Network World.
While some programmers saw the find as an amusing distraction, others were highly upset by the news, stating that these types of juvenile jokes only serve to reinforce the idea that programming is a career meant only for immature men.
Linux developer Dr. Matthew Garrett wrote of the code: At the most basic level it's just straightforward childish humour, and the use of vaguely-English strings in magic hex constants is hardly uncommon. But it's also specifically male childish humour. Puerile sniggering at breasts contributes to the continuing impression that software development is a boys club where girls aren't welcome.
Garrett was referring to the gender gap in the technology industry. An overwhelming number of workers in the tech industry are men. Many have alleged that women often feel intimidated by the pervasively male-dominated culture surrounding programming and technology.
So was Microsoft's bit of code a deliberate and sexist joke -- or was it simply an accident on the part of some poor programmer out there? Either way, the company is working hard to fix the offending code.