TechEd 2006: Vista will recover applications from shutdown, crashes

Boston (MA) - Microsoft Windows Vista will contain a feature called the Restart Manager, that will enable applications to be restored to their last viable state after a user logs off the system, after placing a system on standby, or following a system crash. Today at TechEd 2006, product managers Elsie Nallipogu and David Zipkin demonstrated this and other features they claim will dramatically improve the reliability of the operating system going forward.

In demonstrations which involved running a couple of tricks that could intentionally cause Vista and its applications to crash - using methods whose publicity by means of this session was met with skepticism from at least one attendee - Zipkin and Nallipogu showed how their company was working on methodologies that would make crashes and hangs far less significant events than they are today, mainly by virtue of reducing, if not eliminating, the loss factor. For instance, Nallipogu triggered a process which caused Word 2007 to crash. In response, Restart Manager now not only asks the user if she'd like to continue to wait while Windows does nothing (a rather nagging option in today's Windows XP), but also gives her the alternative of trying to restart the application...without restarting the OS.

Vista's new Restart Manager can't reboot Word in this case, so it goes online with Microsoft automatically to try to resolve the issue.

A restart of an app is not a "cold boot." Rather, participating applications - the Office 2007 suite among them - are capable of continually saving their last unimpeded state to disk. An application restart thus not only clears the program and its libraries from memory and reloads them, but also recovers its last saved integral state. This way, a user recovers her documents and the place she was within those documents just before things started going south.

There may still be situations where the application cannot fully recover itself on first try. So in a more aggressive second stage of recovery, Vistas launches an automatic process that will go online with Microsoft, searching for a bug report that mentions something resembling this problem, and may attempt to download, install, and run a patch that fixes the cause of the application crash, all without user intervention.

Stay with TG Daily for more news throughout the week from Microsoft's TechEd conference in Boston.