[FoRK] Windows Hell, Part 7

mdw at martinwills.com mdw at martinwills.com
Mon Oct 3 12:28:08 PDT 2011

Wow!  If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed.... Oh,
wait he does.. Never mind.

> I'm generally blissfully free of Windows (except for a new Sony 3D touch
> all-in-one desktop / TV for product testing)...
> So I'm just slumming a bit with this article. I feel for all of you
> struggling with Windows. I think I'll go back to eying a new
> MacBook Pro w Thunderbolt external monitor (that has a camera and various
> IO connections built-in), and maybe the Thunderbolt
> external drives. Ah, that feels better. Except for the up-front price.
> http://www.itworld.com/windows/208853/windows-ist-traffic-cop-your-pc-its-mob-communication-problems?source=ITWNLE_nlt_personaltech_2011-10-03
> ...
> For the last few weeks, my version of Outlook 2007, which was remarkably
> stable and no more irritating than it ever is for six
> months or more, started crashing unpredictably, throwing off error
> messages that said only that it had crashed (thanks!) and that
> the problem was that it couldn't talk to the module NTDLL.DLL or,
> sometimes the .NET Framework.
> <http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/systemcenter/thread/3002ae0d-4167-45e1-807f-599b2d0920ac>
> Well, NTDLL.DLL is one of, if not the only, mechanism apps can use to send
> commands and requests to the core part of the operating
> system itself. It's the gatekeeper that makes Windows 7 more stable than
> previous versions of Windows because it rejects obviously
> stupid requests from applications rather than taking them to heart and
> suffering itself, rather than letting the apps suffer on
> their own (Mark that as a life lesson, by the way. As soon as I can get a
> binary readout of the NTDLL.DLL's version of "talk to the
> hand" I'm putting it on a T-shirt and wearing it every day. Or maybe a
> tattoo.")
> The reason I thought this was worth bringing up is that Microsoft has been
> answering questions about this particularly problem –
> which has affected, variously, Outlook, SQL Server, connections to
> Exchange servers and various other applications – since 2007.
> The good thing about dealing with the same problem for four years without
> fixing it is that you build up a good case file of solutions.
> Earlier answers were just advice on reconfiguring Outlook or Windows to
> avoid the conflict – though the ones users reported had
> actually worked were things like turning off the "Ding" sound on reminders
> about appointments, or telling versions of Outlook that
> didn't connect to Exchange servers to not automatically try to generate
> views that are specific to Exchange.
> There was a solid period through late '07 and '08 when the advice was to
> uninstall everything, one at a time, starting with add-ins
> before moving on to Office, the .NET Framework, Windows modules and all
> the recent updates, using a special tool built for the
> purpose
> <http://social.technet.microsoft.com/forums/en-US/systemcenter/thread/1e5a3d6f-273f-4dbc-b859-169305aec668/>,
> then,
> eventually, your clothing and sanity.
> Lots of these things worked for some people on the forums(except the
> clothing; if you work in IT, look around you and imagine how
> badly you'd want that not to happen in your office). None worked
> consistently.
> Except, rather than wait for Windows Update, which often wasn't working,
> the advice was to manually download everything from .NET
> (versions 1, 1.1, 1.1 SP1
> <http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?amp;displaylang=en&id=33>,
> 2.0
> <http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=19>, 2.0 SP2
> <http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=1639>, 3.0,
> 3.5, 3.5 SP1 <http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=22> and
> 4 – be sure you get the right version of each, x86 or
> 64-bit and whether it's the standalone or Web installer) a new version of
> the Windows Installation Service and anything else
> remotely involved with making one bit of Windows talk to another.
> The Microsoft FixIT Solutions Center
> <http://support.microsoft.com/fixit/>, which I've praised in earlier
> posts, stood ready to
> help. Standing was about all it did, though. Lots of scripts seemed
> perfect for the problems I saw; most said they completed
> successfully, but didn't make any difference – a very Microsoft result.
> Eventually Microsoft apparently figured out that there was a consistent
> set of errors and put together some automated scripts to
> deal with them, which it put in its FixIT Center Online.
> Theoretically you could download the FixIt appropriate to your machine,
> run it, and Bob's your uncle
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob%27s_your_uncle> (or Bill, or Steve,
> depending on who was CEO at the time and if Microsoft was
> still addled enough to name an operating system Bob
> <http://wiki.oldos.org/Windows/MSBob>).
> (Ever since I heard it in the very few bits of "comedy" on the late,
> lamented Benny Hill show, the phrase "Bob's your uncle" never
> made sense to me, which is why I figured it was appropriate in this
> description.)
> The errors, by the way, showed up under Event IDs 1000, 7000, 7003, 7013
> and 643, nearly all of which had to do with starting
> Microsoft system services that refused to do what they were supposed to
> when they were supposed to, even when they said they were
> doing it. They were mainly the services you wouldn't think were that
> important – TrustedInstaller, Security, Windows Messaging
> Subsystem, Windows Update – that kind of thing.
> ...
> Microsoft's advice was all over the place, however, making it hard to
> identify the problem, find the scripts that should have
> automated the fixes and, when I did find and run the right FixIt modules,
> they often refused to believe they were running on the
> right version of the operating system, or just launched, made their
> changes, expressed satisfaction at the result, then crashed,
> leaving me with more of a mess than I started with.
> At various times, and through varying eras of advice on how to fix the
> problems, I reinstalled Office, reinstalled the Windows
> Installer, reinstalled .NET 4, systematically and singly, with reboots
> between each, uninstalled and cleaned the registry of .NET 4,
> 3.5, 3.0, 1.1 and 1.
> I also ran chkdsk, sft scannow, replaced the registry Microsoft's
> troubleshooters said was corrupted by the last clean install of
> Office with the backup of a directory from before the problem started
> (which should have fixed everything, but had no effect)
> uninstalled and reinstalled half a dozen other services, every add-in for
> any Windows app whether I was using it or not, all the
> security software, did a repair re-install of Windows itself, reinstalled
> all the other apps, Windows modules, coffee machines,
> electric griddles and every other damn thing the laptop had ever run or
> come in contact with.
> I used backups I real-time sync'd onto another partition, onto an external
> drive and backed up using Acronis backup software with a
> feature that would launch after the BIOS and before the OS, so you could
> recover your operating system before it launched with its
> errors intact to annoy me again.
> By late last night, my laptop was a brick.
> Acronis mostly did what it was supposed to, but helped brick my laptop by
> keeping me from booting from the Windows 7 disk, scrubbing
> the partition and starting over. I had to use a Linux Mint distro I keep
> on a USB drive to help fix other people's machines without
> having to learn all the junk that's on them – like opening a bathroom
> stall by sliding under the door and unlocking it from the
> inside, rather than trying to pick the lock.
> Eventually I did a system restore and a Registry restore separately to get
> the thing working to the same dysfunctional level it had
> been before my marathon effort at repairs.
> I may beat it to death over the weekend, in which case my blog entries on
> Monday will be harder to read because they'll be in
> pencil, scrawled by hand on your monitor screen.
> ...
> Also as usual I depended heavily on tools and directions from Microsoft
> and the generous actual expertise in advice from MSPs and
> other Microsoft product experts on Technet and Microsoft.com support
> forums. I almost never have to talk to one. All the problems I
> run into have shown up and (mostly) been solved before.
> What those solutions are and how to make sure the solutions fix the
> problem you have without creating a new one, however, is just as
> hard as it ever was.
> Windows 7 is a lot easier to run and maintain than anything else Microsoft
> has ever built, but it's just as full of nooks and
> crannies as any of its other operating systems and, because it's designed
> to keep more of the nuts and bolts behind the scenes, more
> complicated to fix once you do get behind the scenes.
> ...
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