Monday, 19 September 2011

Windows 8 crash solution: Turn it off and on again

When I write I exhibit a nervous tic that involves my left hand twitching across the Ctrl-S keys every sentence or so. This is because I have fallen victim too often to Windows crashing out and losing unsaved work.* No one likes to see the infamous blue Windows error message, but maybe Microsoft has made a change that will at least reassure the less technical users.

Windows 8 will feature a new error screen when it encounters a serious, system-crunching crash. As with earlier versions of Windows (from Windows 95 and later), it will display a blue screen with white text. This Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) will offer slightly more friendly advice than the usual cryptic text.

Instead of informing the user that the problem lies in, "PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA... *** STOP: 0x00000050 (...)" it will instead provide the less technically useful but more friendly message, "Your PC ran into a problem that it couldn't handle, and now it needs to restart."

So, in the words of The IT Crowd, "turn it off and on again."

A photo of the error page is available on Chip Hazard's Facebook page.

* On one memorable occasion I had finished working after pulling an all-night feature-writing session. I had just saved my work when Word crashed. The application claimed that it was about to crash and offered me an opportunity to save the document. So I did. This actually caused me to lose almost all of the 4,000 words that I had written over the previous hours. Running a hex editor on my hard disk in the very early hours of the morning was not fun, but at least it allowed me to recover the unformatted data.