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October 21, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Windows Explorer error

We_1Nick Paton points out:

Windows Explorer stopped responding and this window came up. The window presents reasonable options until the last choice - "Wait for the program to respond."

If the program really wasn't responding, it wouldn't magically start responding again. To make matters worse, if you click the "Wait for the program to respond" link the window disappears and than two seconds later it comes up again!


You can't really tell between a program being caught in an infinite loop and being caught in a really long loop. So waiting for the program will sometimes allow it to start responding again.

Posted by: GFX Monk at October 21, 2006 12:23 AM

I agree with GFX Monk. Just in the last couple of weeks I've had Firefox crap out on me, displaying a "(Not Responding)" message in the title bar only to eventually come back just fine.

Posted by: joemono at October 21, 2006 02:02 AM

I think the real thing that's broken here is that a vital part of your operating system would cease to function in such a way...

Posted by: Alden Bates at October 21, 2006 03:07 AM

That's Windows for you. It's just giving you a choice: kill now or wait. Too bad an infinite-loop-checking program is impossible.

Posted by: Fuzzy at October 21, 2006 12:34 PM

Windows Vista is full of errors. I hope the full version will be better.

Posted by: sitruc at October 21, 2006 02:10 PM

This is, actually, a long-standing windows behaviour. It's gotten a lot better since Windows 3.1, but other OSes have kicked the crap out of Windows on this particular detail.

Windows relies on co-operative multitasking. Better OSes (Linux and other UNIXes, including OSX, OS/2, AmigaOS) all use pre-emptive multitasking, where control is never actually fully given to any single application; it is held and maintained by the kernel.

For the most part, both techniques work, but one of the more annoying portions of this on Windows part is that if you lose control of an application, you can't manipulate its window in any way, including to move it out of the way.

BTW, I don't do Windows.... could you tell? I use it at work because of my employer's requirement. At home, I use Linux.

Posted by: Glenn Lasher at October 21, 2006 06:15 PM

Glenn Lasher -

What are you talking about? Windows has used pre-emptive multitasking since Windows 95. Get your facts straight before you make false claims.

Posted by: Chris at October 21, 2006 11:18 PM

Fairly old issue, I still get that in Windows XP once in a while.

Posted by: Uzumaki at October 22, 2006 08:27 AM

It would appear that you are running either a beta or release candidate of Windows Vista. As others have pointed out, this has been a long-standing behavior of the various Windows operating systems through the years. I guess that we can expect Vista to do the same thing. At least XP can recover, unlike past OSes from Microsoft.

BTW: Running Ubuntu here.

Posted by: ebob at October 22, 2006 02:27 PM

I'm going to make my comment before this thread fall into its inevitable "Windows sucks - I use this one... stop using Windows...blah blah blah" discussion. As this really doesn't matter much or have any real relevance to the posted broken item.

However, I must also say that the pop up option itself (which is supposed to be the actual item up for discussion) is not broken in my mind. Just because something isn't responding at the moment, does not mean it won't recover itself.

I know, expecting it to fix itself doesn't seem to make lots of sense, but it does happen, and more often than you would think. If I were to get that pop up, I would let it try again one or two times, then kill it if it won't come back.

Hell, at least you are given the option to wait if you would like to...

Besides, what is wrong with giving that as an option? The fact that the program is not responding could be considered broken, but why the pop up window?

Posted by: Memnon at October 22, 2006 08:21 PM

The state of "not responding" is not necessarily permanent. Some applications block waiting on external events (such as Outlook waiting for a response from the e-mail server). To Windows, these programs have stopped responding, because they have. But some may start responding again. Not broken.

Posted by: Fastolfe at October 22, 2006 09:45 PM

Applications/programs usually don't respond right after being opened. The fact that the program wasn't reponding after a good length of time is broken, though.

Posted by: Sean Z. at October 23, 2006 12:45 AM

I write Windows software from time to time, and in my experience a lot of the causes of "program not responding" errors are due to lazy/unsophisticated programming practices - it's a lot easier to write the code for time-consuming operations so that system events are simply ignored until the operation is done.

But guess what? It's exactly this situation - a program ignoring system events for too long - that causes the "program not responding" error in Windows.

So what's really broken here are the badly written programs that necessitate this type of message from Windows.

Posted by: Sashazur at October 23, 2006 12:35 PM

Windows is just so... so... crashy [sic]. Bill Gates may be a genius because he invented the internet, but he has a bad IT reputation when it comes to technology. I've seen better OSs than Windows such as Macintosh, but it is just too expensive.

Posted by: st33med at October 23, 2006 07:23 PM

"If the program really wasn't responding, it wouldn't magically start responding again."

That's not how you do things in the computer biz, as evidenced by this 1970s industry joke:

Four DEC employees are carpooling when the car suffers a blowout.

The driver, an executive, says, "This is a crisis! What are we going to do?"

The salesman says, "Time to buy a new car!"

The field engineer says, "No, we can fix this. I'll just exchange the spare for every one of the tires in turn until we find the broken one."

The software engineer says, "Ah, just ignore it and keep driving. It was just a fluke, and will probably run fine now."

Posted by: henrybowmanaz at November 5, 2006 04:37 AM

I think the stable release of Vista has this fixed

Posted by: DaL33T at February 15, 2007 05:42 PM

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