R.I.P. SoftICE

A sad, sad day...

As of April 3rd, 2006 the DriverStudio product family has retired. For customer support information please contact our FrontLine website.


Vast portions of my writing during the 1990s wouldn't have been possible without SoftIce.

For years, I had SoftIce always running, secure in the knowledge that I could drop in and poke around anywhere in the system, at any time.

Comments (24)
  1. Art Cube says:

    Any chance we could see this open sourced?

    I still have softice running all the time.

  2. It feels like the untimely death of an old friend.

  3. JoeR says:

    I e-mailed the product manager and let him know you were displeased…

  4. mikeb says:

    I used SoftICE starting way beck when it was first released for DOS (at the not coincidental price of $386).

    Great stuff!

    Had to stop using it when Compuware started pricing it waaay higher.

    Now that MS has re-kindled developement of kd/windbg (starting about 3 years ago?) there’s much less need for SoftICE.

    I’d take another look at it if it had a nicer price – maybe Compuware can get some other company to pick it up (but it would be hard to compete against Windows Debugging Tools price of $0).

  5. Sameer Jha says:

    This is terrible news. Why did Compuware had to do this?????

    It’s really sad to know that SofICE(one of the greatest piece of software ever written, IMHO) will be no longer enhanced further.

  6. Louis says:

    I wonder what will take over it’s role as the ultimate debugger

  7. Norman Diamond says:

    Can someone else catch it before it crashes completely…

  8. Adrian says:

    Speaking of dead and retired software, what happened to the performance profiler in Visual Studio?  Looks like even the "Pro" SKU of VS 2005 doesn’t come with one.

  9. John Scatter says:

    I really believe it’s a terrible mistake. There is no other product that can match the features and ease of use of softice.

  10. Phar Lap says:

    Why the hell would you retire a unique(!) product? WinDbg is a joke – no, the mother of all jokes – compared to SoftICE… in fact, every debugger I saw till today is a joke compared to SI. SI is incredible and I will not just miss it, I’m really sad about this decision!

    I surely found a few bugs when I started using all of its power, nasty bugs, they upset me at that time… but once you know them you can work around somehow. As a whole, SoftICE is still the BEST kernel and user-mode debugger even after considering the fact that the system "freezes" when the UI is active.

    SoftICE is the main reason for the success I had in my profession, I also remember how it helped me the first time with a problem in Windows 95 not playing some system sounds and MIDI not initializing. I tracked it down to a failing LoadModule call that tried to load mmtask.tsk but the file has been deleted somehow.

    It was around that time when I played Half-Life and someone on the server used the "client-crash exploit" and caused SoftICE to literally pop into my face showing me the fault so I was able to very quickly figure that a simple NOP patch would make the exploit useless. My client-crash protector was born and became a success at that time.

    The list goes on and on and I don’t want to believe that such a vital tool is discontinued?!

    Are there any *special* reasons for this decision. Could you tell us, Matt? What would make your team continue at least SoftICE?


    – Phar Lap –

  11. John Locke says:

    The government told Compuware to ‘retire’ all low-level tools. Microsoft will offer the only low-level tools for Windows and these tools will require owner registration and have been rewritten so that various tiers of low-level functionality are only available via DRM and "Genuine Low-Level Debugger Owner" checks. And of course the entire thing will be filled with Microsoft phone-homes.

    It’s called ‘the freedom to trust your government’.


    J. Locke

    "The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it. "

  12. Barry Tannenbaum says:

    <i>Are there any *special* reasons for this decision. Could you tell us, Matt? What would make your team continue at least SoftICE?</i>

    Why was SoftICE discontinued?  Simple ROI.  The decision was made that the investment in resources would return more profits if spent on other products.

    Could SoftICE have survived with better (any!) marketing and advertising?  Perhaps.  But it’s hard to compete with free.  WinDBG may not do everything that SoftICE does, but for many developers it’s sufficient.  And Visual Studio’s native debugger is sufficient for most ring-3 tasks.

        – Barry

  13. This is very sad and disturbing news.

    We don’t just love SI, and everything it has allowed us to do.  We DEPEND on it.

    WinDbg is not a suitable debugger for kernel drivers.  We have several products whose development and maintenance relies on SI.  So we will have to find an alternative, but it will cost us and our users. Ease of use and ease of debugging results in more effective debugging and therefore more stable code.  Losing SI will create a lot of work for us, and we just hope it doesn’t result in more bugs.

    I for one would pay more for SI – it’s indispensible.

    If they will discontinue it, can’t they at least sell it to someone?  Even MS?


  14. Jonathan Wilson says:

    I think part of the problem Compuware and NuMega had is that so many people were/are pirating it.

    I do concur with all the people who say that SoftIce is unmatched. There are things SoftIce can do (especially if you use the 3rd party IceExt extention and other such things) that pretty much no other debugger can do.

  15. RobL says:

    I’m in  the early stages of a new hardware project, and was evaluating DriverStudio. After this announcement I started looking for another solution, and came up with something that you may find interesting.

    It is a driver development tookit called WinDriver, apparently it’s been around for a while. It seems solid enough and I’d like to here your thought about it. The relevant link is http://www.jungo.com/windriver.html.

  16. In a previous post , I lamented the loss of SoftIce. Now, we truly are at the end of an era. Compuware

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