The Wall Street Journal, 31 October 2007 states that “the error-reporting service built into the Windows operating system is a massive global network for speaking truth to power.” When a Windows program crashes, you get the pop-up offering to “tell Microsoft about this problem.”
On busy days, “50 gigabytes of data from these error reports stream into Microsoft… [where] two dozen programmers are charged with monitoring them.”
Microsoft won’t tell you which of their programs crash the most, although Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer seem likely bets, while at the other extreme, Word and Excel “seem like Gibraltar.”
A Microsoft article, “Crash Protect Your PC Now!” (article id 835565) states:
“You’ve probably been there. You’re happily working away in Windows when suddenly everything freezes for no apparent reason. Maybe you’ve pressed [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Delete] and managed to end the troublesome task and get on with things, but even if your machine hasn’t locked solid you’ve still lost at best a few minutes’ work, and at worst an entire document. We hate to tell you this, but the problem isn’t necessarily one with your PC either – many crashes are caused by poor use of your computer’s resources, or too many program installations that took place while you left half-a-dozen other programs running in the background.”
Some reasons Microsoft gives for the system crashes:
- Faulty hardware (sort of figures Microsoft would say that and say it first)
- BIOS updates— “hardware problems can be solved by BIOS updates. This is because of the specification that all hardware is built to is open to some interpretation.”
- Driver updates— “if you’re being plagued by crashes and you haven’t updated your drivers for a while, this could well be the solution – 40 per cent of crashes are caused by poor drivers. Of course, if your machine is fine at the moment, updating the drivers may actually introduce problems, or fix one problem and introduce another.”
- Software problems— “the other reason your machine will crash, and this is definitely the most likely cause, is due to software…. There are two main reasons that software can crash – either it can’t gain access to a resource that it needs (such as memory), or it contains a bug… One of the main reasons a program crashes is because it can’t obtain enough memory from the OS to complete an operation….Another reason programs are prone to tripping up on the memory front is that the memory becomes fragmented the longer you leave your machine on.
What does Microsoft tell you to do?
Prepare! “Prepare yourself for crashes by saving regularly and often, and to keep the amount of programs running to a minimum.”
What does User-centric EA tell us to do?
I love Microsoft, but maybe it’s time to consider having the IT Investment Review Board let Microsoft know what they think about all the system crashes by voting with the organization’s wallet and spending project dollars on alternatives that offer application stability and reliability. 50 gigabytes of streaming data reports on a busy day is just about 50 gigabytes too much!