Patch for tcserver.exe memory leak on Tablet PC – at last!

In August 2004, I mentioned that the Tablet PC uses managed code for parts of its inking support. Specifically, tabtip.exe and tcserver.exe. Buried wayyy down at the end of the comments you’ll see my acknowledgement that there was a “known issue” with a memory leak in tcserver.exe. I’d actually reported this bug to the Tablet PC team before, but without a clean repro they had no chance of fixing it in SP2.

And so the bug, and the workaround, went basically unnoticed in the wider world — until Andrew Orlowski at The Register picked up on it, and Scoble made his lame “I just reboot every day” admission. At which point things got much more interesting. I’d already been working with a Tablet PC dev to narrow the bug down, but suddenly he was told to make it a higher priority. Funny, that 🙂

Different code fixes followed in short order, and pretty soon I was dogfooding the patch you can now download for yourself: “KB895953 - Memory Leak in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition”. Keeping quiet about this has been killing me, so it’s great to see it out at last. And it seems that I’m not alone:

Comments (6)

  1. zzz says:

    What was the point in "keeping quiet"? Is there some kind of NDA that stops from stating the obvious thing (holy cow we have a bug in our perfect product!) that everyone knows about? You could have instead tried to work with the tablet pc community – as it seems that it otherwise takes media attention to give such bug some deserved attention.

  2. If I had a "WTF?!" category for posts around here, this would be in it (* mental note to self… *)….

  3. Some history….

    Memory Leak? Oh yes. We think so. Silence. Silence. Community and various Enterprise/Vertical Users saying, Ok, yes there is a real problem, yes, and we can prove it. More voices chime in, people are noticing this, and not JUST the fanboys. (Around this time I record tcserver.exe at 300 something). A fix? Silence, Silence. Tap, tap. Community says it’s still here. A fix please? Silence. Silence. Still here. Now Jonathan Hardwick (Sept. 26, 2004) fesses up, after trying to explain it all away via some managed code fairy-pixie dust. It’s already in the public, but he takes the political hit for stating the painfully obvious. But the problem is still here. No fix. A fix? Silence. Volume grows louder. People upset. Lots of angst and anger. Spreads to the wider press and the blog networks. Marketing blowout. Silence. Silence. Mary Jo manages to get a response at Windows Anywhere. More hits from the The Register and then it spreads to the more mainstream press, the world knows now. Ok, yes, there is a Memory Leak, but a PR spokesperson says fix real real soon now, and until then please reboot. Scoble’s weak defensive ‘reboot daily’ blog post. Press laughter reaches volume 11, Scoble becomes a virtual pinata at every techy press cocktail party from California to the New York Islands. And then poof, it all dies down, everyone forgets about the Tablet. Community thinks not happening, wait till Longhorn. Press cares less by now. And then 4.5 months later, a fix, that is not a fix, rather a patch, wait another month for the real thing. But then hey, not everyone is impacted by this (if ain’t broke, don’t fix) only really impacts the TIP (you know, that key thing about the Tablet). And what’s the big deal anyways? Can’t you just reboot? Stop being such a downer. Chill out, man. You nitpicker you. And the press is making too much of this. MVP talking points – “not a big deal”, “The Register is evil”. Go in peace and wait til August, then the fix will really be a fix. And you are still making too much of all this. Doncha have a life?


  4. I’m not sure why the trackback to my own blog failed, but I’ve provided some more background to this bug in ‘Cultural change at Microsoft, or, "What was the point in keeping quiet?"’ (

  5. I have been rushing a project these few days and to do that, I had to

    perform 2 things, basically have…

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