Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

When a program is terminated by Windows it will check for a solution. If no solution is found ... don't wait for one.

I bought a Windows 7 64-bit computer last fall (Dell XPS8000). Hi-def monitor. Yeah! I WAS enjoying it much. Soon I get "Windows Media Player has stopped working. Windows is checking for a solution and will notify you....." Or something to that effect.

The rub is that Microsoft apparently anticipated that under some circumstances Windows Media Player would quit working because they included this error message. Yet, 8 months later, there is not (as far as I've been able to determine) a solution in sight. Windows hasn't notified me of anything.

Is Windows doing anything more than popping up an error message? Or is this problem so abstruse that it is taking all these months find a solution? My hunch is that Windows is just up a dead end street, and I'm up a creek sans paddle.

Microsoft didn't anticipate that Windows Media Player would have that specific problem.

What they anticipated is that any program can have a problem that might stop it from working.

That message isn't from Windows Media Player, it's from Windows itself, and might appear for almost any program.

Personally, I appreciate the message, but am concerned that it sets an unrealistic expectation.

All Programs Have Bugs

I've said it before: all software has bugs. Add to that the millions of potential unanticipated interactions that software running under Windows might have with your computer's unique combination of software and hardware it's really no surprise that occasionally things go wrong.

"It's also possible that it's not Microsoft's problem."

On (fortunately) rare occasions, things will go so wrong that Windows must step in and stop a program from running. When that happens, it gives you that message: "<some program> has stopped working...".

And it can happen to any program, not just Windows Media Player. Microsoft didn't know ahead of time that Windows Media Player would fail - they just know that at some point some program will fail.

Some Bugs are More Common Than Others

Now, the fact that the problem isn't fixed after 8 months for you is sadly also no surprise.

It could mean any number of things; the most likely is that the problem you're experiencing is not happening to enough people to be of a priority to fix. Put another way, Microsoft is too busy dealing with other problems that are either more severe or that more people are facing.

It's also possible that it's not Microsoft's problem. Device driver software can cause this - and that is often provided by the hardware manufacturer, out of Microsoft's control.

None of that helps you. If you're the one in a million that a problem happens to, and for you it happens consistently and regularly, then it doesn't matter to you how many other people have or don't have the problem. You just want it fixed.

Words that Set Unrealistic Expectations

"Windows will notify you if a solution is available."

I have seen Windows notify me of solutions - occasionally right away, and sometimes some weeks later.

But more frequently it does not.

The message sets an expectation that your information has been sent to Microsoft (it has) and will be used (it will) to devise a solution (it might) that will be sent to you (it might) in a reasonable amount of time (probably not).

The fact is that once again Microsoft is getting thousands, if not millions of these reports every day. I'm sure that the data is collected and analyzed, but I'm fairly certain that Microsoft prioritizes working on the most commonly reported or the most severe errors first. If there's time left over to work on the rest they might do so - but probably not.

What that means is that if your error is an uncommon one, you might never see a resolution.

And of course you have no way of knowing just how common your error is.

Or what else might factor in to judge whether it's "severe".

Or, for that matter, whether it's even Microsoft's error to fix.

The Best Expectation

In my opinion, the best expectation is none at all.

By that I mean let Windows report the error, but if there isn't an immediate fix then don't expect one. Find some other way to either resolve, bypass or work around the error.

It'll be much faster than waiting for a fix that may well never arrive.

Update

I ran across this great article by Microsoft's Raymond Chen: How many failure reports does a bug have to get before Windows will fix it? - well worth reading to help set expectations.

Article C4383 - July 30, 2010 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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9 Comments
gordintoronto
August 3, 2010 8:27 AM

In this particular case, you might want to go to download.com and get winamp...

Stephen Mann
August 3, 2010 8:34 AM

The "Windows is Checking for a solution..." is simply BSOD-2010.

Maryanne in Jonesboro, Arkansas
August 3, 2010 12:14 PM

I had a similar problem. My IE and Google Chrome wouldn't load..after 10 minutes I gave up and got the "message" 2 problems..Will try to fix..One was fixed but the 32-bit is gone? and if I try to read a PDF I get a blue screen that doesn't want to let me close. I figured it was my own ignorance! But the solution to problem #2 hasn't been forthcoming and now I don't expect it..Thank you for that.

David H
August 3, 2010 5:06 PM

I'm still using Windows XP. I use Firefox. A few months ago Windows Media Player stopped working. Also I could not login when using IE. IE would permit me to go to any site, but not the ones that required a login. I did a lot of searching and discovered a repair dll routine. I'm sorry I don't remember the URL, but running that fix, fixed my Registry and restored the Media Player and the login ability. So searching for a fix in that direction may do it.

Mike
August 3, 2010 5:31 PM

I've never been notified of an answer to any of those failures. I did discover, quite by accident, that some answers were waiting for me to open them. In several cases, it was interference by some crapware or bloatware, or whatever you call it, that was included with the computer. Quite possible, since I wasn't encountering any similar problems on another computer that I'd reformatted with a pure copy of Win7. Sure enough, uninstalling the suspected bloatware from the problem computer eliminated the recurring failures.

Crapware, more than just hoggy, it's a timebomb in your computer

Backyard
August 3, 2010 7:39 PM

Windows Media Center suddenly stops life if I assign its files to a external hard drive.

This [@#$%*] will not let me further utilize Windows Media Center...

Do I have to really re-format the hard-drive?

Norm
August 3, 2010 8:28 PM

On some occasions solutions do pop up that are related to the errors being reported. Unfortunately, they are not always the correct answers. Microsoft is very frustrating because they come up with brilliant ideas and then show them aside in favor of eye candy (Aero, anyone?). I wish they would wake up and spend a little more on making this Checking for Solutions a viable feature. If this worked the way its name makes it sound, they would probably secure the lead for years to come as the most used OS. As it is, I wish Macs were about 1/2 their current prices so I could afford one. That way I could really judge whether Mac is better than Windows or just a strong challenger like the free Ubuntu OS.

John L Brown
August 5, 2010 8:03 PM

I have noticed that operating certain pre-installed programs, or 'newly' installed programs don't operate consistently well without sufficient RAM. Recently I added more memory, and as a result, all of my programs perform as expected. As well, installing certain program with insufficient memory can create issues. Seemingly, downloading some program, while utilizing insufficient RAM can result in an incomplete, of perhaps a program that is not properly configured. Thus, in some situations "low' memory can adversely effect pre-installed, as well as 'newly' installed programs. My computer came with only 512MB of ram. Over time, with the addition of many installed programs, problems developed with using many of these programs, including the pre-installed ones. This answer may not be the particular solution, or issue, regarding the topic. Still, my experience may be instructive. I am sure adding more RAM greatly enhanced the performance of every program I had issues with.

aao
November 14, 2011 4:06 PM

actually I am yet to see this pop-up produce anything meaningful. In fact this dialog box consistently hangs itself so it has to be killed along with the offending program. Yes programs do have bugs, but if your bug trucking solution makes it worse(much much worse in this case) you are better off without it. A realistic expectation is another thing - I expect my programs behave at least the same(not worse) after an "upgrade", unless I misunderstood meaning of the word "upgrade" in the English language. Being a software developer I understand the underlying problem- MS drastically changed their crush handling, going from the simple and the reliable Dr.Watson to the unmanageable nightmare they put in as an "improvement". Having said that I still think it is inexcusable and sloppy approach.

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