Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Spin" the Crash:

Microsoft has been very touchy about Windows program "crashes" since at least Windows 95. They've gradually prettified the appearance of any crashed program, to the extent that when some sweet application dies and takes all your work down with it, Windows almost sems to know what it's doing. The "Marketing spin" on crashes in Windows XP is a screen that advises you the program has inadvertently had to go to Australia (or something like that), along with an offer to report the problem over the web, which you can accept or refuse.

Now I'm biased, but personally, I hate this screen. My hatred might have a little to do with the fact that the program Microsoft is offering to send a report about is usually a little something I've written myself. I know it's not quite finished yet, but Windows insists on treating it like it's out of Beta. I'm afraid my bias prevented me from seeing the obvious, but I see it now, and I'm going to share it with you.

I think that Windows performs a great service when they offer to "send a report" about a program that crashed. Because they are putting us in charge. Whether we say yes or no, we're doing the equivalent of the Roman Emperor's "thumbs up" or "thumbs down." It gives us a shred of a glimmer that we're in control, even as our precious data sinks to the bottom of the chip.

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