Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see

"Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go on a camping trip, set up their tent, and fall asleep. Some hours later, Holmes wakes his faithful friend.
"Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."
Watson replies, "I see millions of stars."
"What does that tell you?" Holmes asked. Watson ponders for a minute.
"Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it's evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?"
Holmes is silent for a moment, then speaks. "Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent."

Error reporting dialogWhen I first saw the "We share your pain" spoof video, first thing that came to my mind was who created it!!! Obviously it was created by Microsoft!!! See at http://www.microsoft.com/uk/technet/itsshowtime/sessionh.aspx?videoid=9999. The spoof is on the error reporting dialog that pops up on application crashes. We call this the Watson dialog....

Before I worked in Microsoft I saw this dialog come up couple of times. I thought with the huge user base that microsoft has does anyone really care? So I mostly ended up clicking on Don't Send. Right now the story is kind of the other-way around. I am in Microsoft and my application crashes actually throw up this dialog on users boxes!!!

We are developing Visual Studio Team System which is a V1 product and hence there is limited audience outside of Microsoft. Mostly they are on Beta or CTP bits. So I was leading a happy life with all issues being reported with detailed logs and I'd mostly get repro-boxes where I could debug the failures.

However, life changes fast and I got a couple of these Watson bugs as we call them. I then realized that these error reports are treated very seriously. There is a dedicated team that looks into all the error reports sent in and file bugs on the faulting products. To protect user's privacy and our strict data-collection policy  very limited data is gathered. However, the data is usually enough for us to locate the faulting code as we can get the stack trace and unhandled exception details.

So next time you see one of these dialogs do send the error report. It'll surely be analyzed and will help us build better and more stable products... Read an excellect blog about this topic here

Comments (5)

  1. Sean says:

    This is good to hear, but how often do you attribute watson reports to 3rd party drivers or programs and simply ignore them? Do these error reports get sent to the 3rd party?

  2. When 3rd party programs and or drivers crash they get collected in Microsoft DB. AFAIK these 3rd parties can register with MS by paying a fee to get these data for debugging….

  3. Windows Error Reporting (WER) is a Windows feature we know since Windows XP. (2001)  Microsoft loves

  4. swishingwind says:

    Hello! This was all many years ago. Hahaha. Just wanted to say hi to all of you!

Skip to main content