Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 10th Jul 2007 18:23 UTC, submitted by estherschindler
Microsoft "Have you ever wondered what really happens to those Windows error reports you can send to Microsoft whenever a Windows app crashes? How many reports it must receive before taking action? Or whether it's worth your time and effort to send duplicate reports if the error occurs repeatedly? I did, and I asked Microsoft. Unfortunately, after a week and a handful of assurances that they were working on responses, the software giant refused to speak with me."
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Error reporting
by DonQ on Tue 10th Jul 2007 21:28 UTC
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Being responsible for processing customer error reports in our tiny software company, I think I can sched some light on topic. Although Micorosoft has many orders of magnitude more customers and errors to recieve, I think general ideas are same (of course MS needs to use automatic preprocessing of reports, which is relatively simple task).

1. Reports overall count

In our case reports count is not stable and depends primarily on new releases schedule. I'm sure that this is same in every software comapny.
We release our software major versions about 3-4 times a year, there are usually some weeks after release when we'll receive many reports. These are mostly about bugs, slipped through our internal testing; each bug causes lot of similar reports, easily categorisable visually (and probably automatically too, if we ever need such automatisation). We release bugfixes ASAP, sometimes every day (after major release).

I can't say exactly, how many error reports we get from our about 1000 users. Some day none, some day five, rarely more too. Fortunately errors (bugs) count decreases over time (especially after we reorganized our internal testing procedures some years ago ;) )

2. Reports importance

What more reports we got about the same bug, then important is to fix that bug. This is natural IMO:)
Well, there are of course different bugs; crashes are most important, invalid tabstops or focus placements are least important.

Another category are single incident reports - I mean reports about bugs, which happen only once for single customer. Usually these are caused by errors in not our software - network errors, antivirus false blockings, hardware/driver errors and similar.
Usually we ignore those reports - but put them in waiting list; if we encounter similar error pattern another time then such error goes into investigation.

And there are lot of common errors, caused by another products too, but easily fixable - like some printer drivers errors or some specific OS problems. Such errors with solutions will go into FAQ (which noone seems to read - almost every day I need to point to our FAQ in response to some error report).

3. Privacy

Poses no problem. Our error reports are in plain text, customer may opt to not send these, if he/she finds something private in report content. Not happened so far ;)


About Microsoft - their error reporting service has surprised me sometimes. I've seen case, when after submitting error report to Microsoft they offered correct solution on their response page - namely to update video drivers. Error itself wasn't so usual to qualify as driver issue at all - but MS could decode sent information and give solution. Since this incident I'm a bit eager to submit error reports to MS ;)

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