What does the “Ae” stand for in AeDebug?

Raymond Chen

The name of the registry key for configuring automatic debugging of application crashes is AeDebug. Okay, so it’s obvious what “Debug” stands for, but what does “Ae” stand for?

I can’t prove it, but circumstantial evidence points to AE standing for “Application Error”. The title of the dialog box was originally “Application Error”. And there’s this comment:

// This fixes the AE (application error) in component XYZ

This evidence lines up with 16-bit Windows, where application crashes were originally called Unrecoverable Application Errors, or UAEs.

So that’s what I’m going to say. It stands for Application Error.

Bonus chatter: The procedure¹ in 16-bit Windows that displayed the Unrecoverable Application Error dialog was named Display_Box_of_Doom and it has the understated comment “Display the Unrecoverable Application Error box that everyone seems to dislike so much.” Later, the name of the dialog changed to simply “Application Error”: We gave you a way to try to recover from it, so it wasn’t “unrecoverable” any more.

¹ Note that I called it a “procedure” rather than a “function”. That’s because it, like most of the 16-bit kernel, was written in assembly language.


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