How did Windows open a portal to another dimension when reporting a program error?

Raymond Chen

For a brief period of time, an Insider build of Windows 10 changed the program crash dialog from Windows is checking for a solution to the problem to Windows is opening a portal to another dimension. How did Windows open that portal?

Man, that research department is working overtime.

Sorry to break it to you, but there was no actual portal to another dimension. That placeholder text was created by a friend of mine while the team worked with the writers to figure out what the new text should be. (The text ultimately became Hang on while Windows reports the problem to Microsoft.) My friend noted, “We made Reddit. My daughter was proud. I also learned that some people don’t want humor in their error messages.”

At least that message was better than the message in the original specification for the feature, which was “Program X has suffered a debilitating brain aneurysm,” a reference to an old Calvin and Hobbes comic.

Bonus reading: Did Windows ever find solutions for programs that crashed?

13 comments

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  • M. W. 0

    So Windows now tells people that it is indeed phoning-home? I guess being honest about sending information to Microsoft is better than doing it quietly behind users’ backs. ? 🤷

    • Chris Iverson 0

      This is about the “Checking for a solution” error message that pops up when programs crash. This hasn’t changed since XP or Vista. It’s always said it’s reporting information to Microsoft.

  • GL 0

    “Hang” feels like an (un-)intented pun.

    • Alex Cohn 0

      💯‼️

  • Ian Yates 0

    I’ve found some users don’t like the less formal error messages. “Hang on” instead of the traditional “Please wait”… I don’t mind the change in language, and it more closely aligns with what some other service providers are doing (eg setting up some new devices scattered around your home from a search engine company uses a lot of conversational & familiar phrasing ).

    But I have noticed that some less computer-savvy business users, and some of an older generation, much prefer the formal error messages since the conversational ones give them the impression, albeit incorrect, that someone didn’t put a lot of thought in to the software.

    • Andreas Rejbrand 0

      Personally, I strongly dislike “less formal” messages in UIs. For instance, I can’t stand Google Chrome’s “statistics for nerds”.

      For me, it is about aesthetics. I simply think it looks horribly ugly with these informal phrases. I think it is beautiful when UIs contain correct, formal, and conventional language.

      Sadly, today it seems like large companies don’t care much about language at all, especially not localisation. For instance, Microsoft sends me ads via email once or twice in a month — in a language that resembles Swedish but most certainly isn’t. Every email message contains at least one särskrivning, often in the subject or first line of text.

    • Jonathan Harston 0

      “Windows is updating. Don’t turn off your computer” irritates me. The message should be instructing you to do a negative. It should be “Do not turn off your computer”.

    • 紅樓鍮 0

      I imagine such informal phrasing could be especially undesirable in regions where there is linguistic diglossia.

      • Alex Cohn 0

        When Microsoft started the MSDN subscription in 1992, they also printed a newspaper called MSDN News, which included some informal language, especially in the answers section, called “Dr. GUI”. This newsletter was distributed in English around the World (even utf-8 was not available then), but there was one regional edition that was redacted to be more business-like: for Australia.

  • Mark Brents 0

    Can there be an option in Windows to indicate we want funny error messages?

  • Yuhong Bao 0

    Was this message ever localized to other languages?

    • 紅樓鍮 0

      Gone are the days when software vendors tried painstakingly to localize their products to Chinese. I feel certain open-source projects are doing better (or at least can very easily do so if they want to) today in i18n, by leveraging community platforms like Crowdin.

      • cheong00 0

        It depends on which part of age the application you want to localize. For some application it’s as simple as editing the String resource table in satellite assemblies. And we not only create translation for normal languages, but also create some variant with insider jokes and NSFW wordings. 😛

        Oh the memories…

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