Microsoft crash reporting and Firefox

I made Firefox crash a few times while investigating reports of crashes in Bugzilla. One of those times, I sent the Windows XP crash report to Microsoft in addition to sending the Talkback report to the Mozilla Foundation. To my surprise, I got a dialog after submitting the Windows XP crash report. The dialog contained a link to a Microsoft web page, which said:

Contact Mozilla Firefox for support or product updates

Thank you for submitting an error report.

Problem description

An analyst at Microsoft has investigated this problem and determined that an unknown error occurred in Firefox. This software was created by Mozilla Firefox.


Microsoft has researched this problem with Mozilla Firefox, and they do not currently have a solution for the problem that you reported. Below is a list of recommendations to take that may help prevent the problem from recurring.

Additional information

If this problem continues to occur with the latest product updates for Firefox, we recommend you obtain assistance and troubleshooting information directly from Mozilla Firefox.

According to Talkback, the crash I hit is obscure: only 2 other reports in the last two weeks had the same function at the top of the stack, out of the tens of thousands of Firefox 1.5 crash reports during that period.

Did Microsoft happen to investigate an obscure crash that I hit? Since the page gets our name wrong and doesn't say anything helpful, I'm inclined to believe that they haven't investigated this crash, and that the page is incorrect in stating that Microsoft has contacted Mozilla about the crash. The page almost makes it sound like the crash I hit is frequent enough for Microsoft to care and that Mozilla has refused to fix it.

18 Responses to “Microsoft crash reporting and Firefox”

  1. Billy Says:

    Surely that is one possible answer; while I was reading it though, I was thinking the opposite: M$ is blowing it off (just to anger FF users, myself included)… but who knows

  2. Sean Says:

    Maybe not enough users turn Talkback on in FIrefox

  3. Gids Says:

    Don: Latest stable version
    Latest bleeding edge version at

  4. Daniel Cater Says:

    I suppose you could ask around to see if anyone was contacted, but my guess is that no-one was. Also, they should link to and name Mozilla Corporation, not Mozilla Firefox.

    Notice also how the survey doesn’t work in Firefox.

  5. Xavier Says:

    Yeah, I’ve been seeing that message for every crash I get on the Trunk. I figure that any crash that comes from Firefox is displayed the same message. I personally find it deceitful on the part of Microsoft. However, I have no idea how their crash-reporting service works. Every crash in Firefox might appear to be the same to them. I have no idea.

  6. Caleb Says:

    This is just plain old Watson :)

    All of your crash reports (a small stack, and I think that 64K of the process’ memory) are sent to their server and kept there.

    Then, a vendor can approach Microsoft and ask for access to this database (a database of crash reports that belong to their programs) and have a similar system to Talkback (with topcrash reports, stacks and other information).

    Maybe they give that kind of a message to other popular products aswell ?

  7. Brant Gurganus Says:

    I worked at Microsoft last summer as an intern and gaining access to crash information for products from other companies is pretty difficult unless you have a business need to do so.
    It is possible that Microsoft did look at the reports if the stacks indicated that Firefox was crashing frequently through a Microsoft API in which case it would have been thought that the bug was in that API.
    Instructions for gaining access to the information are at, but Mozilla is not listed on the sign up form.

  8. james Says:

    i bet they’re doing it on purpose…

  9. Frank Burleigh Says:

    I’m no fan of m$ and do know a little about software development. I see this from time to time for FF (branch) but also for Real’s player and the Rhapsody player. They’re all worded about the same, and I think Brant is on the best track. It’s probably not malice, more like the inattention of a machine. They have a mechanism probably really intended to improve *some* software (like TB, and Novell has one too) and FF is now big enough to show up in that tool. Maybe the best thing would be to go with it–try for the data that you might not be getting through talkback.

  10. pd Says:

    “in the last two weeks … tens of thousands of Firefox 1.5 crash reports”

    Are you serious? Firefox crashes *that* much?

    Stop hassling Microsoft for making a reasonable attempt to provide their users with some support for a third party app and start spending more time preventing that app from crashing!

    That’s my advice.

    On the other hand, keep up the good work.

  11. Jesse Ruderman Says:

    Are you serious? Firefox crashes *that* much?

    When thinking about the number of crash reports, keep in mind that there are 6.4 billion people in the world, 15% of them use the Internet, and 10-12% of those use Firefox. When a hundred million people use a product, ten thousand crash reports a day (for users who have Talkback enabled and are using the latest version) suddenly doesn’t seem like a whole lot.

    Stop hassling Microsoft for making a reasonable attempt to provide their users with some support for a third party app

    I don’t think lying to users, in a way that seems intended to make Firefox look bad, counts as “a reasonable attempt to provide their users with some support”.

    and start spending more time preventing that app from crashing!

    Crash-reduction efforts by Mozilla Corporation employees and volunteers include:

    * Monitoring of Talkback topcrashes (Jay, me, and many others).

    * Efforts to improve Talkback (Jay and someone else).

    * Three complementary efforts to reduce crashes in the JavaScript engine:
    ** Making Firefox run with WAY_TOO_MUCH_GC enabled (Brendan, bz, mrbkap),
    ** Making Firefox not crash when JavaScript is restricted to a small amount of JavaScript memory (Timeless),
    ** Code inspection of the JavaScript engine (Igor).

    * A project I’ll blog about in a few months.

    Crashes are one area where we can get close to quantifying the pain users feel: we can estimate how much time we’d save users by fixing a given crash. But it’s harder to quantify the benefit to users of most other types of work, and each group or volunteer working on Firefox has a limited amount of time, so it’s not obvious that spending more time fixing crashes (rather than, for example, fixing memory leaks, improving speed, rewriting certain areas of the code, or adding new features) is the right thing to do.

  12. beeblebrox Says:

    is it possible to run FF windows as distinct processes, to contain the damage is case of a crash? thx

  13. George Says:

    Ever since installing Firefox 1.5 I’ve had crashes whenever I try to download anything or open up the Privacy tab in Options.
    I get the same message from MS when I submit the crash report.
    I’ve cleared out all my extensions with no end to the crashing.
    Instead, I’ve fallen in love with Opera.

  14. mike Says:

    SAme issue here with downloads in Firefox…doesn’t matter if it’s a bit torrent mp3, whatever!
    Also falling in love with Opera.

  15. Jesse Ruderman Says:

    George and Mike, submitting a bug report with a Talkback ID or complete steps to reproduce would be a lot more likely to get your bug(s) fixed than complaining here.

  16. Jordan Chapell Says:

    I also get the download and privacy tab crashes – I have cleared everything, reinstalled firefox multiple times, and no luck…I did find out that if you use the down them all extension, you can use it to successfully download. I use talkback each time, but no luck. Please help!

  17. Barbara Hentschke Says:

    I believe that a hacker has messed up Mozilla Firefox in the computers and only Mozella Firefox can fix this problem. A file didn’t cause the crashes in my computer, Firefox was going excellently five minutes earlier. It had to be an outside force of some kind.

  18. Shane Hendricks Says:

    My Firefox 1.5 crashes all the time (it’s very unstable). A better name would be “Fireball”, because it constantly goes down in flames.