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Microsoft Begs Hardware Developers to Use Watson

NEW ORLEANS -- At least it's two-sided.

Those Windows Error Reporting messages the operating system throws in front of users every time an application crashes? You know, the ones that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says it's so important to send because they'll drive error correction at Microsoft?

Take solace from the annoyance in the knowledge that Microsoft is bugging its industry partners just as much to exploit the information surfaced by the error reports, which feed a system at Microsoft known as "Watson."

On Tuesday, during the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, Microsoft's key conference for hardware manufacturers and developers, Microsoft officials repeatedly implored developers to use the data from the Windows error reports to improve their device drivers, applications and utilities.

The very first video in the presentation showed the assembled developers an average customer who benefited from Windows Error Reporting on his home system. Microsoft's first two speakers, Windows hardware experience group general manager Tom Phillips and chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates, both asked developers to use the database of Windows Error Reporting, which is accessible to hundreds of hardware and software partners. Another dose of persuasion was being doled out in a driver development session dedicated to Windows Error Reporting scheduled for Wednesday.

"This is something I can't emphasis enough," Gates said. "The benefit of actually having those report-backs ... that really allows all of the development resources in our industry to be prioritized in a better way. If you're not participating in this analysis project, we think it's critical that you get involved in it."

Microsoft's own internal use of Watson led it to address 29 percent of the errors involving Windows XP Service Pack 1 and more than half of the errors involving Office XP Service Pack 2, according to a letter from Ballmer to customers in October.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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