Microsoft's New 'User Friendly' error messages



  •  

    Personally, I think they could have a provided at least a LITTLE more detail, don't you think? 



  • Just press cancel to undo whatever happened.

     How more easily do you want it ?



  • You can't fault them on accuracy. It's a near-certainty that something, indeed, happened. Somewhere.



  • try {
    install_windows(8);
    } except {
    // I could implement some error handling here,
    // but it's late and I'm tired; also lazy.
    alert('Something happened!');
    }



  • For the first time ever, I have absolutely no interest in the latest version of Windows.  I know it's still early beta, but seriously, WTF?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @El_Heffe said:

    For the first time ever, I have absolutely no interest in the latest version of Windows.  I know it's still early beta, but seriously, WTF?
    Give it time. Most sane people (even in IT) don't give a damn until RC1.



  • While developers may not appreciate this sort of error screen, I think this is PERFECT for users. "Sorry, it broke, here is one SINGLE choice you need to make". THAT is how you report an error to a user.

    Imagine if a car gave a full page info dump instead of just illuminating a "check engine" light. Scratch that, I'm sure some anal-retentive is going to claim he'd love that and it should, for no reason, be built into the car rather than a diagnostic tool.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    For the first time ever, I have absolutely no interest in the latest version of Windows.  I know it's still early beta, but seriously, WTF?

    Although it may be a "first time ever" for you, I remember well the same reacion from people when a mouse was introduced....and when a crt (instead of a hardcopy terminal) was introduced...



  • @TheCPUWizard said:

    Although it may be a "first time ever" for you, I remember well the same reacion from people when a mouse was introduced....and when a crt (instead of a hardcopy terminal) was introduced...

    Back in my day, we used simple hand gestures and voice recognition to control our electronics. Not like you kids today with your neural interfaces. Bah!



  • @Soviut said:

    @TheCPUWizard said:
    Although it may be a "first time ever" for you, I remember well the same reacion from people when a mouse was introduced....and when a crt (instead of a hardcopy terminal) was introduced...

    Back in my day, we used simple hand gestures and voice recognition to control our electronics. Not like you kids today with your neural interfaces. Bah!

    I use simple hand gestures all the time....often a single finger extended vertically in the direction of the machine.



  • @TheCPUWizard said:

    @Soviut said:

    @TheCPUWizard said:
    Although it may be a "first time ever" for you, I remember well the same reacion from people when a mouse was introduced....and when a crt (instead of a hardcopy terminal) was introduced...

    Back in my day, we used simple hand gestures and voice recognition to control our electronics. Not like you kids today with your neural interfaces. Bah!

    I use simple hand gestures all the time....often a single finger extended vertically in the direction of the machine.

    The gesture I'm using most often is moving my right fist towards the screen at a high speed. I even use foot gestures, like swinging my right foot towards the PC's case. Some functions I rarely use need a tool to be performed, like a sledge hammer or a minigun.



  • @Soviut said:

    While developers may not appreciate this sort of error screen, I think this is PERFECT for users. "Sorry, it broke, here is one SINGLE choice you need to make". THAT is how you report an error to a user.

    True. Problem is, I see zero ways to get more info (unless you get that after you click, of all possible options: Cancel)

     You therefor have zero ways to resolve the problem which only leads me to conclude Microsoft doesn't want ppl to succesfully install Wndows 8.

     I loathe the 'please contact your system administrator'-messages. They should say 'please contact your system administrator and tell him X and Y'. I really thing that would cut the time it costs to fix it in half, as most users seem to think I have a crystal ball instead of a telephone. 'It's broken!' 'What is?' 'My computer, it doesn't do anyhting!' and after half an hour of asking and asking it turns out the text in Word is red instead of black...

     



  • @pnieuwkamp said:

     I loathe the 'please contact your system administrator'-messages. They should say 'please contact your system administrator and tell him X and Y'. I really thing that would cut the time it costs to fix it in half, as most users seem to think I have a crystal ball instead of a telephone. 'It's broken!' 'What is?' 'My computer, it doesn't do anyhting!' and after half an hour of asking and asking it turns out the text in Word is red instead of black...



    +1 realistic scenario


  • @pnieuwkamp said:

    'It's broken!' 'What is?' 'My computer, it doesn't do anyhting!' and after half an hour of asking and asking it turns out the text in Word is red instead of black...
     

    You got better descriptions than I used to get. It went more along the lines off:

    "It's broken!"

    "What is?"

    "My computer!"

    "Whats wrong with it?"

    "I don't know, just fix it!"

    "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

    "I don't have time for that! Just fix it!"

    Next thing you know, they are telling everyone they can't do anything until someone fixes their computer. You walk over and press the reset button. The only thanks you get is "It took you long enough, my document has to be finished in less than an hour!"

     



  • @Mole said:

    they are telling everyone they can't do anything until someone fixes they're computer

    FTFY. You don't need to thank me.



  • WTF? Your post doesn't even make sense.

    But then again, this is the side bar. Little things make sense. 

     



  • @derula said:

    @Mole said:
    they are telling everyone they can't do anything until someone fixes they're computer

    FTFY. You don't need to thank me.


    +1



  • @Soviut said:

    While developers may not appreciate this sort of error screen, I think this is PERFECT for users.

    So you agree it's totally the wrong choice for a developer preview? 

    @Soviut said:

    "Sorry, it broke, here is one SINGLE choice you need to make". THAT is how you report an error to a user.

    One choice isn't actually any choice at all, Mr. Ford notwithstanding.

    @Soviut said:

    Imagine if a car gave a full page info dump instead of just illuminating a "check engine" light.

    Of course a car doesn't just have one indicator for "a problem happened".  It has a "check engine" light, a "battery is not charging/flat" light, a "you've left the handbrake on" light, a gauge that tells you when you've run out of petrol, a temperature gauge that tells you if it's overheating, etc., etc....  

    Although many errors aren't anything the user can do something about, there are plenty that they can fix themselves and should be allowed the opportunity to.  Printer out of paper?  No floppy in the drive?  Disk full up?  Imagine if you were trying to save or print something and Office just said "It didn't work" without any details like that.  Some errors are caused by transient conditions, and those are the ones that the user should be explained the nature of the failure and offered the try again or give up choice.

     



  • An alternative view...given the choice:

     1) Make a preview (not even a Beta) available so some people (Developers) can kick the tires on the big pieces, even though there is still significant work to do.

     2) Keep the product internal until all of the features are flashed out so that nobody whines

     Which would you prefer?

     Also, every developer (familiar with Windows) should look in the system logs, even if there appears to be useful information in a dialog for system related things. The majority of time, that is where the information that can help resolve the problem is in the first place.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Soviut said:

    Imagine if a car gave a full page info dump instead of just illuminating a "check engine" light. Scratch that, I'm sure some anal-retentive is going to claim he'd love that and it should, for no reason, be built into the car rather than a diagnostic tool.
    Considering "you didn't screw your gas cap on all the way" and "if you don't stop driving within the next 100 feet and get a tow, this engine will never run again" are both valid reasons to turn on the check engine light, give me the info dump.



  • @Weng said:

    Considering "you didn't screw your gas cap on all the way" and "if you don't stop driving within the next 100 feet and get a tow, this engine will never run again" are both valid reasons to turn on the check engine light, give me the info dump.

    So tell me. If you're cruisin' on the highway and the light pops up and the info dump is shown (i.e. a Java stacktrace. futuristic cars, yay!), what will you think?


    a) "Oh shut up about my gas cap already."

    b) "Oh no, a error! I must stop the car and check the info dump!"

    If you answered b), then congratulations. You would probably have stopped even without the info dump available.

    (this is me assuming "info dump" means what it sounds like: a long list of internal information that describe the error and are hard to understand for the average driver. studying while driving would, if not causing a crash, take you longer than traveling 100 feet.)



  • @DaveK said:

    @Soviut said:
    While developers may not appreciate this sort of error screen, I think this is PERFECT for users.
    So you agree it's totally the wrong choice for a developer preview?

    Whoa, huge WTF alert: do you really think the Developer Preview, which has the express purpose of allowing developers to test whether their software is compatible with the upcoming OS, should be substantially different than the shipping OS? That would kind of defeat the purpose, no?

    Anyway, I wager the actual error is stored on the Event Log, per usual. Advanced users can look there to see it.



  • So you have to install Windows before you install Windows so the Windows installer can write the actual error in the event log? Yo Dawg ...

    FWIW, I suppose there is a // TODO: Replace with useful error message before we actually ship this thing comment in the code. You don't think a preview is 100% finished, do you? Also, I don't consider the wording of an error message a substantial difference. If your software depends on that, you're doing it wrong.



  • @derula said:

    @Mole said:
    they are telling everyone they can't do anything until someone fixes that there computer

    FTFY. You don't need to thank me.

    FTFTFY. You'll thank me later.



  • BTW, Clicking on the one and only "Cancel" button brings up another dialog saying: "Setup is not complete,", etc. 

    So you get a warning about cancelling the setup which you can't continue. Nice one, Microsoft. 




  • @blakeyrat said:

    Anyway, I wager the actual error is stored on the Event Log, per usual. Advanced users can look there to see it.

    This.

    The general user is pretty bad at raising an issue with the kind of information that a technical person needs to fix it.  It's a fact of life that a support ticket is initially just a placeholder saying "Something that you should be able to fix isn't working.  Call me for details."  I'm fine with that as I don't think the standard business user needs to be able to raise the same standard of incident report as a Tester or QA person. 

    Given that, I'd much rather have detailed recording of an issue in the Event Viewer, where I would be able to see it, than on a transient error dialogue that will be lost once the user clicks "OK".

    (Obviously, there's no reason why we can't have both.)



  • @RTapeLoadingError said:

    It's a fact of life that a support ticket is initially just a placeholder saying "Something that you should be able to fix isn't working.  Call me for details."  I'm fine with that as I don't think the standard business user needs to be able to raise the same standard of incident report as a Tester or QA person.

    Um, that apparently is the standard of incident report for our Testers and QA people.

    The standard for many of our regular users is to tell their admin assistant who tells their technical assistant who files a support ticket that just says, "Something's wrong with your service."  Then, the help desk assigns it to our queue, so we can identify which product is really having the problem.  So we talk to the tech assistant who points us to the admin assistant who will usually remember which of her people had the issue.  However, we can't talk to them directly right now, because they're very busy with work they can't do right now because of this problem.

    No, that is *not* the purpose for our queue.  I just happen to run a piece of core infrastructure, so the help desk randomly assigns us any ticket for any product that uses our infrastructure, or uses a product that uses our infrastructure, or contains part of the name of our service or one of the services that use our service.  At least I'm not in networking - those folk really have it bad, as the above pattern describes *everything* IT, and a lot of things that aren't.  I at least don't get random tickets for problems a cafeteria in another state is having with their common kitchen equipment.  I get those complaints in email, because the guy who supports said cafeteria happens to have the same name as me (including middle name), and my address occurs first in the address book because I've been here longer.

    Personally, I'd like a short, meaningful error message where the user can see it.  The worse the error messages get, the worse our users get.  For a while, a group in another department had a product whose error messages all just said, "Error."  While they had that product deployed, most of their trouble tickets merely said, "Fix it."



  • @Mole said:

    The only thanks you get is "It took you long enough, my document has to be finished in less than an hour!"

    When folks do that to me, I offer to undo what I just did and put it back the way it was. That simultaneously shuts them up and gets the point across.



  • @pnieuwkamp said:

     I loathe the 'please contact your system administrator'-messages. They should say 'please contact your system administrator and tell him X and Y'.
     

    To be honest, I hate system administrator messages in general. Every time a family member gets this error on their home computer, the first thing they ask is who their system administrator is. When I tell them they don't have one because it's not an office computer in a conglomerate that actually has an IT staff, they look at me like there's a crab crawling out of my mouth.

    That being said, I do hope the OP is like this simply because Windows 8 is a work in progress and MS might even have a policy in place requiring all developers not to put any details into their system messages due to the possibility one could somehow reverse engineer it and figure out the details of how the OS works before they're ready to disclose that info. It's a stretch, but who knows?



  • @tgape said:

    @RTapeLoadingError said:
    It's a fact of life that a support ticket is initially just a placeholder saying "Something that you should be able to fix isn't working.  Call me for details."  I'm fine with that as I don't think the standard business user needs to be able to raise the same standard of incident report as a Tester or QA person.

    Um, that apparently is the standard of incident report for our Testers and QA people.

     

    That's a shame; you should expect better of fellow IT professionals.  Are they lazy or useless?

    I've done a bit of testing and it's not easy to do properly.  It's especially time consuming to write a decent observation but not doing so is like saying "my time as a tester is more valuable than yours as a developer so why don't YOU work out what's going on". 

    It's also quite common for testing to get squeezed if the project overruns, but the only thing more expensive than doing proper testing is not doing proper testing.

     



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @derula said:

    @Mole said:
    they are telling everyone they can't do anything until someone fixes that there computer

    FTFY. You don't need to thank me.

    FTFTFY. You'll thank me later.

    Thanks!



  • @RTapeLoadingError said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Anyway, I wager the actual error is stored on the Event Log, per usual. Advanced users can look there to see it.

    This.

    [ . . . ]

    Given that, I'd much rather have detailed recording of an issue in the Event Viewer, where I would be able to see it, than on a transient error dialogue that will be lost once the user clicks "OK".

    How many more people are going to make this suggestion despite it already having been pointed out at least once that this is the bleeding OS installer that has failed, and consequently it probably hasn't even created the event logs on the install partition yet, even if it has there's no guarantee that it's using them for its own error reporting, and even if it was there's no actual bloody way to see them because the bloody OS HAS FAILED TO INSTALL?

    Context, folks, context.  Your suggestions may be generically meaningful in some other discussion, but they are pretty irrelevant to this particular bug we are talking about here. 



  • @DaveK said:

    @RTapeLoadingError said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Anyway, I wager the actual error is stored on the Event Log, per usual. Advanced users can look there to see it.

    This.

    [ . . . ]

    Given that, I'd much rather have detailed recording of an issue in the Event Viewer, where I would be able to see it, than on a transient error dialogue that will be lost once the user clicks "OK".

    How many more people are going to make this suggestion despite it already having been pointed out at least once that this is the bleeding OS installer that has failed, and consequently it probably hasn't even created the event logs on the install partition yet, even if it has there's no guarantee that it's using them for its own error reporting, and even if it was there's no actual bloody way to see them because the bloody OS HAS FAILED TO INSTALL?

    Context, folks, context.  Your suggestions may be generically meaningful in some other discussion, but they are pretty irrelevant to this particular bug we are talking about here. 

    That depends. When you run the Windows 8 installer from inside Windows 7, you get the option to upgrade. So the eventviewer is present and functioning. Unfortunately when I tried to upgrade my tablet it failed when rebooting (right after the screen in the OP) so it rolled back the installation. I didn't bother to check the eventviewer but reinstalled from scratch and that worked just fine.

    Be gentle. Win8 is not even in beta. I'm sure they'll iron out the kinks



  • @RHuckster said:

    To be honest, I hate system administrator messages in general.

     

    No doubt.  When I was sysadmin and got those errors, I would say "I AM the system administrator and I don't fucking know what to do with this!"  What's Bill Gate's direct line?  Along similar lines, I once got a user so well trained he would actually send me all the gory details so working with him was a dream.  Until the day he sent me a BSOD stack trace.  Sorry, I don't work for Microsoft, dude.  Those numbers mean as much to me as they do to you.

    I have a good wtf from an external user reporting a problem:  it was with some other vendor's software.  He knew it.  He still called me up to explain the problem and say "I know this isn't your stuff, but I was wondering if you had any ideas while I wait for them to respond."  I gave him the expected answer, and shockingly it didn't contain any expletives.  I was way too nice.



  • @jetcitywoman said:

     Sorry, I don't work for Microsoft, dude. 

    You don't?  I thought for sure that all IT people are not only all knowing but also worked at some point in all major IT software companies.

    But yeah, I have seen a lot of request asking for stuff way out of the duties of the people there, Shocker!



  • @DaveK said:

    How many more people are going to make this suggestion despite it already having been pointed out at least once that this is the bleeding OS installer that has failed, and consequently it probably hasn't even created the event logs on the install partition yet, even if it has there's no guarantee that it's using them for its own error reporting, and even if it was there's no actual bloody way to see them because the bloody OS HAS FAILED TO INSTALL?
    Well, since the picture shows the installer using the default XP theme, one'd expect that the installer was started from XP (as the installer itself definitely doesn't use that theme), thus having full access to the Event Log service in XP.



  • @snoofle said:

    @Mole said:

    The only thanks you get is "It took you long enough, my document has to be finished in less than an hour!"

    When folks do that to me, I offer to undo what I just did and put it back the way it was. That simultaneously shuts them up and gets the point across.

    Holy shit. Why are software developers insanely passive-aggressive? I can't figure it out.



  • @Power Troll said:

    @snoofle said:
    @Mole said:
    The only thanks you get is "It took you long enough, my document has to be finished in less than an hour!"

    When folks do that to me, I offer to undo what I just did and put it back the way it was. That simultaneously shuts them up and gets the point across.

    Holy shit. Why are software developers insanely passive-aggressive? I can't figure it out.

    They was PROVOKIN' us!

    Serious answer: because you're an idiot who doesn't understand human nature?



  • @jetcitywoman said:

    @RHuckster said:

    To be honest, I hate system administrator messages in general.

     

    No doubt.  When I was sysadmin and got those errors, I would say "I AM the system administrator and I don't fucking know what to do with this!"  What's Bill Gate's direct line?  Along similar lines, I once got a user so well trained he would actually send me all the gory details so working with him was a dream.  Until the day he sent me a BSOD stack trace.  Sorry, I don't work for Microsoft, dude.  Those numbers mean as much to me as they do to you.

    PROTIPs for dealing with BSoD reports, should you ever have to again:

    1) the error code can be googled and will generally tell you something meaningful about the general nature of the problem

    2) the stack trace will very often identify the responsible kernel-mode driver module

    3) failing that, install WinDbg, load the memory.dmp file into it (assuming the user's PC was configured to write a memory dump on restart, otherwise adjust that setting and wait for it to happen again), issue the command "!analyze -v".

    While you can't generally usefully debug kernel-mode crashes because you don't have source and there's not a lot of post-mortem state, you often can figure out that there's a faulty device or filter driver on the system and disable or uninstall it.


     


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