Best of Questions and Answer from TechNet Webcast: Windows Vista Reliability Improvements

Resources for the webcast Hi all!

Below are the questions I pulled out of the Q&A log from the TechNet Webcast: “Windows Vista Reliability Improvements“, along with extended answers (especially to those I answered verbally).

Hope you find them useful!


PS: Here is my resource page for this webcast.


Questions and Answers:

“Did Microsoft send out some reliability updates last months? My Vista systems were crashing all the time and large network transfers were taking forever and then a couple of weeks ago things cleared up?”

Yes indeed; there were updates made available that improved these situations.  As I mentioned in the webcast, you have the option of installing “recommended” updates as well as the critical updates now using Windows Update or Microsoft Update.  And yes, there were reports that some people were having issues with large file transfers (fortunately I never experienced this) that have been fixed with recent updates.


“I am a power user.  Does Home Premium edition allow access to GPOs?”

Yes and no. <smile>  Home editions do not have the ability to join domains, so “Group Policy” doesn’t actually exist.  Still.. all PCs (including home machines) have LOCAL policy, which can indeed be edited if you have administrative permissions.

Check out this TechNet Magazine Article which describes the improvements in, and how to work with, local policy in Windows Vista


“How is my reliability with Vista if I do have Virtual PC 2007 running and have more 02 guest system on the same computer?”

Vista will just treat Virtual PC as another application – so you shouldn’t have any reliability issues directly related to it.  However, as I mentioned on the webcast, there are sometimes issues (though fewer and further between these days) with Virtual machines going to full-screen and back; depending on your video hardware and drivers. 


“Is that Reliability Monitor running all the time or is it something that needs to be configured to begin logging?”

It’s logging by default; because it’s just recording more information to the eventing system by default.  You can disable parts of it if you choose.

NOTE: During the webcast I misunderstood your question.  I answered thinking you were asking about the performance monitor.  The performance monitor counters are not collecting data by default.  You have to enable and then turn on that kind of logging.  Sorry if I mislead anyone with my answer.

You can find details on the Reliability and Performance Monitor here.


“Can you manage through group policy whether the system can send information to Microsoft? Can you turn that option off in GPO?”


See this page: “Windows Error Reporting and Problem Reports and Solutions Feature in Windows Vista” for a good description of these features, as well as how to manage them via Group Policy.


“On a domain-joined system, can the built-in diagnostic tools notify IT in some manner?”

Yes.  A couple of ways.  You could set up Task Scheduler tasks triggered by the events you are interested in either from the Event Viewer or from the Task Scheduler.  Or you could set up an Event Subscription to send the events to your local workstation, and launch the task from there. 

For a good description of the Task Scheduler, look here

And for details on setting up Event Subscriptions, click here.


“I have had to re-load Vista 9-10 times since January because of frequent fatal crashes, usually after installing a Microsoft update, and the new built in startup repair functions, while good, have only worked 1-2 times. When the startup repair wizard wont work and system restore doesn’t work (which it never has on the startup repair mode), what else can I do before I consider reloading Vista?”

Well.. if you’re having these kinds of issues, I’d guess the problem was related to faulty hardware or drivers that are causing such bad corruption.  (Even though Vista is better at detecting such things, you may have a hard drive that is failing.)  I really recommend contacting Microsoft’s support folks to see if they have any suggestions on what you could log for them in order to find the problem.


“Can the Reliability Monitor be remotely connected from a Helpdesk computer to review the failure/installation information?”

Absolutely.  Just Right-Click on the top level item on the left, and select “Connect to another computer…”


“Can the Event Viewer triggers be exported for backing up or, use on another computer or, must I set them up manually for each system (non-domain-joined)?”

Yes.  Look at this article on managing tasks.  Click on the “Export a Task” link there for the specifics.


“What do you know about the problems regarding windows update? There are a lot of reports of failed updates. For example if 1 out of 10 updates fails, the whole batch will sometimes fail.”

It’s hard to say what your problem might be.  I’ve seen it (though not as often as you say you have) in cases where system resources were otherwise being used up by other applications.  Usually just shutting down rogue processes using the Task Manager (or, worst-case, a restart of the OS) has cleared this up and allowed me to install the updates.


“The exception for updates occurring monthly would include emergencycritical security updates?”

Right.  The key word there is “emergency”.  If there is some virus or worm or very malicious thing that is out in the wild, and is something taking advantage of a vulnerability that wouldn’t require someone to mis-configure or otherwise click on and run something to install it – then yes, you’d see an update immediately.  But fortunately these are becoming more and more rare.


“Can the reliability reports be retrieved remotely (ex: sms or some online reporting tool)”

The tools you should start looking at for doing this in a business would definitely be the System Center tools – specifically Operations Manager (the new version of what was called MOM).  Operations Manager 2007 now supports rich DESKTOP (as well as Server) monitoring and reporting. 


“You said the memory diag tool runs in very little memory. What if the memory location it is running in is corrupt?”

Ooo… I don’t know.  In that case you’re probably not going to be able to run it at all – which would probably mean you’ve got such corruption that wouldn’t even boot an OS.  Not even Linux

(DOH!  Was that out loud?!  I’m gonna get in trouble now!  <chuckle>)


“That person that left was me, got an error in live meeting, no OS Crash! (Running Vista) πŸ˜› Thank you for an awesome WebCast”

You’re welcome! Thanks for coming back! πŸ™‚

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