Still Waiting For Microsoft’s Mail…

My programs crash pretty often, and when that happens, a window pops up that asks me to send an error report to MS, which I do. What happens to these reports? My impression was that MS would analyze them, and eventually email back the reason these programs crash. Is that a fantasy? Why should it be a one-way flow of information from me to MS? What do I get out of these reports? Sincerely, Steve Brown

Microsoft won’t take the initiative to get back to you, but you can theoretically go find out the status of your report on the Microsoft Online Crash Analysis Web site ( ). The service uses .NET Passport to identify you. In rare cases, the cause of your crash can be identified, and the problem solved— usually with a link to an updated driver or some downloadable repair tool. More often than not, however, your report won’t result in a direct resolution to your problem.

The most important benefit is indirect. Microsoft claims that it gathers error information from all users who report crashes, identifies trends, then informs companies that are causing the problems with their applications or drivers.

If you’d rather not be presented with the error reporting dialog box, you can turn it off. Right-click on My Computer and choose Properties, click on the Advanced tab and click on the Error Reporting button. You’ll be presented with a dialog box that enables you to configure which programs error reporting will track— including an option to disable the lot.

And BTW, if your programs "crash pretty often," something’s very wrong. Even on out-of-date versions of Windows (such as Win98), a properly set up and maintained system should be able to go at least days or weeks without trouble; and in XP, serious crashes are normally very, very rare. But the key in both cases

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.