WinFS in Windows Vista?
Karen Forster didn't mention in "IT Pro Perspective: WinFS Beta 1 and Microsoft's Search Strategy" (October 2005, InstantDoc ID 47634) whether WinFS will be a part of Windows Vista, planned for release next September. Does Karen have any idea if that will be the case?

Microsoft has said that WinFS won't be part of the Vista launch, but it will be available as a separate offering (probably a free add-on) sometime after the launch. A beta version of WinFS is now available for developers through MSDN.

More Ways to Tell That You're an NT Veteran
I really enjoyed "IT Pro Perspective: 10 Ways to Tell That You're an NT Veteran" (September 2005, InstantDoc ID 47632). Here are a few additional ways to tell that you're an NT vet.

  1. You remember reading Inside Windows NT by Helen Custer from cover to cover.
  2. You printed postscript documentation from the NT beta test CD-ROM (before NT 3.1 was released).
  3. You rejoiced when NT 4.0 was released because it was actually the fourth release of NT!
  4. You miss the little moon icon on the "saving system files" shutdown dialog.
  5. You were a VMS programmer/system manager and got excited when you heard that Bill Gates hired David Custer as the project lead for NT.

Windows Error Reporting: Awesome, My Dear Watson
Regarding Karen Forster's Hey Microsoft! column "Windows Error Reporting: Elementary, My Dear Watson" (August 2005, InstantDoc ID 46982), just understanding how WER benefits Microsoft is enough for me, and I'm thinking that I might turn the feature back on. I have one question: How does the error report help Microsoft, if you send a report on a non-Microsoft product? You can improve the OS, but if developers don't follow the guidelines, they can still cause problems.

As to third-party applications, I've been lucky enough to see WER inform me that Microsoft has worked with the third party, and in one case a solution was available from the third party. So Microsoft is working with third parties as well.

Obviously, I'm in the minority, but I know that WER has helped me. I was having a problem with a process dying at boot time. WER identified it as a problem with a printer driver and gave me a link to download the latest driver. I was really impressed that Microsoft was able to identify a problem with third-party software and point me to the fix. After that, I was sold on WER. I submit a report every time now.

I've integrated error reporting in all our applications, both Windows Forms–based and Web applications. Even our Web services report to our central database if they so much as hiccup. Instead of the user getting some long error they can't begin to repeat to us, they get a simple message, and the whole exception gets dropped to us with time, date, application name, and the function or method that croaked. Sometimes we even throw in some parameters. We can tell which customer it was, sometimes fixing an issue they never realized they had.

Yes, third-party Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) can access WER crash dumps on their products. I've done it. The relevant info is at https://winqual.microsoft.com.

I had an issue on Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) where the machine seemed to always crash at exactly the same place when trying to write to a DVD. I upgraded the DVD software and tried different DVDs, all to no avail. Finally, I decided to click Send on the WER and was asked to download a self-booting hardware diagnostic utility from Microsoft. Sure enough, the problem was a faulty memory chip. I was convinced of the value of WER that night.