The Best and Worst of Microsoft Support Online

For the last column of the year, I’m taking a much-needed break from bug reporting and troubleshooting. Periodically, I scan Microsoft Support Online for humorous and ridiculous entries, and today, for your enjoyment, I’ve sorted selected article titles into three groups: "Duh," "Roadblocks," and "Huh?" The Duh category helps us empathize with the front lines at Microsoft Support; the Roadblocks category will resonate with many of you (and probably dredge up bad memories); and the Huh? group is for pure entertainment. Many of these entries go back to Windows NT 3.1 or 3.5, so don’t panic if you read something that you haven’t seen before.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Please accept my best wishes for the new year--may your pager remain silent and your Y2K bugs sleep soundly through the year-end transition. Happy New Year!

Duh--Stating the Obvious

  • Err Msg: Cannot Create This File When This File Already Exists
  • Enumeration of Large NTFS Directory Takes a Long Time
  • Cannot Boot Windows NT on a Diskless Workstation
  • Err Msg: Winlogon.exe-Drive Not Ready (Drive?)
  • Incorrect Permission in Registry Cause Unpredictable Results
  • Cannot Log On After User Access to Boot Partition Removed
  • Unclear Error Message Printing from Windows NT Diagnostics (Obfuscation)
  • Inability to Open Files May Be Caused by Bad Registry Key
  • Error 3787: You Must Log on before Performing this Operation
  • Plug and Play Devices Not Detected or Installed
  • Corrupted WINS database causes service to stop responding.
  • Some SCSI Disk Drives Generate Unneeded Error Messages (Obfuscation squared)
  • Blank Screen May Be Caused By Corrupt Video Driver (No kidding!)
  • Master Boot Record Virus Prevents Windows NT From Installing (Who would ‘a thunk it?)
  • How to Determine Loss of Client/Server Connection (This is a hard question?)
  • Use of SSL Creates Performance Overhead for Browsers (Encryption takes NO CPU time)
  • WINS Statistics Show More Failures Than Successes (What a surprise)
  • Cannot Start Windows NT 4.0 After Installing Previous Version (You did what?)
  • Changing Video Card Produces Error Message (It did on my system for hours.)
  • Missing Screen Savers Do Not Lock Computer (Duh…)

Roadblocks--Show This List to Your Boss

  • SETPASS May Change Password of Wrong User (Oops)
  • Index Server Will Not Index Virtual Directories (Then what is it SUPPOSED to do?)
  • User Manager for Domains and Server Manager Cannot Find PDC (Quite a dilemma)
  • Garbled Characters Appear in Windows NT Print Queue (What’s new?)
  • Netlogon Service Does Not Start After Applying SP4 (User lockout feature)
  • DHCP Stops Assigning IP Addresses to Clients (Do you think it’s tired?)
  • FTP Server Does Not Allow FTP Server-to-Server Connection (Clients must remain humble.)
  • Multiprocessor Systems Randomly Restart or Stop Responding (Good firmware test)
  • SMS: Clipart Gallery Must be Downloaded Every Windows Session (And it’s REALLY large)
  • Observed Versus Described Behavior of P-NODE Name Resolution (Been there…)
  • Daylight Savings Time Not Advancing (Should it decline?)
  • Characters Change When Pasted into 16-bit Applications (Keeps users on their toes)
  • BUG: Negative File Size Replacing File Over 2 Gigabytes (Disk extender feature)
  • How to Configure Non-Intelligent Digiboard PC/8 Adapters (Are the smart ones easier to work with?)
  • PING Hangs or Reboots Workstation (Who needs IP anyway …)
  • Cannot Install TCP/IP After Installing SQL Server (Aaaah, order dependencies we all know and love)
  • How Browsing a Wide Area Network Works (Does anyone really know how browsing works?)
  • Dysfunctional Browsing on Wide Area Network (We’ve all met this one, haven’t we?)
  • Stopping the Browser Service Causes STOP: 0x0000000A Error (See above)
  • Browser Service Causes Network Broadcast Storm After 1193 hrs (Maybe it should be stopped first?)
  • INFO: Rollback.exe on Windows NT 4.0 CD Destroys Critical System (Remember this one?)
  • PRINT.EXE Command Fails on Eleventh Try From Batch File (So you better get it right during the first 10 tries)
  • Printer Names May Change When Administered Remotely (User annoyance feature)
  • Windows NT Displays a Stall or Panic Error When Printing (So do the network administrators)
  • Print Jobs Looping Continuously in Print Manager (Native print spooler stress test?)
  • Print Jobs Stay in Queue After Printing (In case you need to print it again)
  • Spelling of Administrator Account Changes (Admin IQ test?)
  • Can Delete Directory and Files When Files Read-Only (Doesn’t NTFS have REAL security?)
  • Disabling Execute Permission Causes Irrelevant Error Messages (Not the only place we see irrelevant messages …)
  • Date and Time Stamp of Files Change When Copied to Netware (User IQ test)
  • Password on Macintosh Volume Resets When Server is Rebooted (Good on slow days at the Help desk)
  • Service for Macintosh Print Monitor Does Not Recognize Printers (See above)
  • WINS PersonaNonGrata Registry Parameter (Do we nominate WINS as Persona Non Grata?)
  • User Logs On To a Blank Windows NT Screen (Special security feature)
  • Disk Administrator Does Not Appear When Run For The First Time (Is it tired or crabby?)
  • Disk Administrator Corrupts Partitions (And when it does show up, this is what you get)
  • Windows NT May Cause APC Smart UPS Battery to Discharge (Will the dumb version stay charged?)
  • Last Known Good Always Restores Original Boot Settings (So if it never worked, you get to start over)
  • Restoring Previous ControlSet After Using LastKnownGood (See above)
  • Help Buttons Disappear After Printing Network Services (Does this mean the user has mastered the task?)
  • Program Manager Disappears After Log On, Log Off or Shutdown (Ditto?)
  • Registry Editor Save Key Saves Key on Wrong Computer (Stealth remote system corruption technique)
  • Missing and Multiple Drive Letters Assigned To Partitions (Batch file debugging tool)
  • FPNW: Invalid User Name Consumes a Seat License (Revenue generation feature?)
  • IIS: Web Browsers Unable To Find HTM File (Find a new browser?)
  • System Restarts Every 5 Hours if Workstation to Server Upgrade (To remind you your server requires a whole new level of mastery)
  • Stopping SNA Server Service Leads to Perpetual Stopping State (Don’t go there)
  • Setup Halts with "Windows Has Disabled Direct Disk Access" (How about indirect access?)
  • Windows NT 4.0 Sometimes Hangs at Shutdown (Like we don’t know this already?)
  • Files That Are Not Removed When You Uninstall Service Pack 5 (What does Uninstall mean, anyway?)

Huh?--Pure Entertainment

  • Broderbund's "Grandma and Me" App Won't Install but Still Runs
  • Windows NT Help Err Msg: Cannot Open Help File (Uh oh)
  • No Support for Apple Random Number Exchange (NT enterprise lotto or bingo?)
  • Error Message Claims NTFS Files Corrupt, Chkdsk Does Nothing (More irrelevant error messages?)
  • Mouse Stops Responding After Idle Period (What idle period?)
  • How Windows NT Detects Idle Time (As compared to "busy time"?)
  • Network Trash Folder While Running SFM (Is this where WAN browsing errors go?)
  • Microsoft Dinosaurs in Windows NT (Any nominations?)
  • Schedule Service Doesn't Run on Sundays (Unless you pay overtime)
  • Applications Run From the AT Schedule Service Cannot Print (When it runs, you can’t print)
  • Trouble Quitting Program Started with AT.EXE Scheduler (Or you can’t stop)
  • User Must and Cannot Change Password (User irritation feature)
  • Shared Application Still Running Error After Logoff (License revenue generator?)
  • How to Distinguish a Physical Disk Device from an Event Message (Was this ever a problem?)
  • Objects in ROT Not Released When Process Terminates Abnormally (ROT???)
  • Setup Reports Success when it Fails to Add Invalid Components (Been there …)
  • Windows 95 Disconnects Attempting to Connect to Windows NT RAS (Another technique to increase activity at the help desk)
  • Third-Party Cursor Hangs Cirrus Driver (Cursor?)
  • How to Pass Unsafe Characters in a URL (What are UNSAFE characters?)
  • HOWTO: Viewing Non-Present Devices in the Device Manager (I’d really like to see how this one works)
  • Err Msg: A Chain of Certs Didn't Chain as They Should in a...(Chain, chain, chain of fools)
  • Access Violation in RPCRT4.DLL When Pickling Buffered RPC Data (Pickled what?)
  • Split Horizon with Poison Reverse Causes Incorrect RIP Updates (Requires special 3D glasses)
TAGS: Security
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