By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 3:12 pm
InfoWorld’s Randall Kennedy has blogged about reports of a bug with the Chkdsk utility in the RTM (final release version) of Windows 7 that could cause the OS to blue-screen. Kennedy attempted to replicate the problem on three Windows 7 configurations; they didn’t blue-screen, but did spawn a memory leak that gobbled up massive amounts of RAM.
Meanwhile, Ed Bott has also looked into the situation and concludes that whatever’s happening isn’t likely to crop up often enough or cause serious enough grief to be classified as a showstopper. And as Ed notes, Windows head honcho Steven Sinofsky has commented on another blog that reported on all this, saying that Chkdsk intentionally grabs a lot of memory to speed things up, and that Microsoft hasn’t been able to replicate the crash but it is looking into it.
Assuming that this is a real Win 7 issue that Microsoft can fix– but not in time to get it onto the first Windows 7 PCs–I suspect that it’ll roll out a patch that will be ready and waiting for installation by the time Windows 7 arrives on October 22nd. Swatting bugs during the time between finishing RTM code and software actually getting to consumers seems to be standard practice these days; I’ve even talked to industryfolk (not at Microsoft) who cheerfully admit that it’s part of how they make deadlines.
Whether the issue Kennedy wrote about is a serious bug, a minor one or (as Sinofsky says) a feature, Windows 7 will be buggy. So will Apple’s Snow Leopard when it ships. So is all software–especially major updates to big, complex applications such as operating systems. That’s why Kennedy’s concluding advice makes sense:
What this latest episode has taught me is that no major release of Windows –- not even one that is more or less a supersized patch of the previous version –- deserves a pass, and that the old wisdom of “wait for the first service pack” still applies with Windows 7.
I’m enthusiastic about Windows 7 myself–hey, I’ve been running pre-release versions since last year. But I’ll still advise many friends (especially the less adventuresome among them) that it can’t hurt to let other people discover Windows 7’s worst glitches before making the move from XP or Vista.