Server Core phone home

Windows Error Reporting (WER) is a Windows feature we know since Windows XP. (2001)  Microsoft loves the feature enough to continue offering it in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 and Server Core installations are no exception.

About Windows Error Reporting

Windows Error Reporting is a feature that was ‘on’ by default in Windows XP and Windows Vista. If kept ‘on’ it meant if your PC decided to go berserk (for some reason) it allowed you to press a button to send information on this behavior to a server, managed by Microsoft.

This is merely one end of the service. The other side is Microsoft, Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) and other programmers have access to the the minidumps Windows Error Reporting makes. This allows them to learn from their programming mistakes and cook up hotfixes to remedy the problem. The minidumps your system sends strictly speaking do not contain privacy related information. The Privacy Statement for the Microsoft Error Reporting Service applies.

A couple of years ago a prank video on the “We Share Your Pain” (or WE-SYP or WSYP) project was put on IT’s Showtime. It shows how Microsoft leverages customer feedback for software reliability. If this isn’t a reason to turn it on, I don’t know what is.

Windows Error Reporting in Windows NT 6.0

Windows Error Reporting has a couple of new features in the new Windows NT 6.0 family of products (Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Codename “Cougar” and Windows Codename “Centro”). Not only does it allow to send error reports to Microsoft, but it also offers users and administrators to:

  • Select one of multiple Windows Error Reporting consent levels
  • Select programs for which error reports should never be sent

All this goodness is available from the Problem Reports and Solutions Control Panel item, which also allows to find solutions to the problems your system has reported. I guess by now every time I write the words “Control Panel” you know what time it is…

In Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 you won’t see the Error Reporting message window. Since Server Core installations actually don’t rely on explorer.exe as their shells it’s not possible to show these messages. (yet) Instead you can choose to let your Windows installations send error reports every time it wets its diaper in two distinct flavors, or not.

In Windows Server 2008 Server Core Windows Error Reporting is ‘off’ by default.

 

Controlling Error Reporting

You can manage Windows Error Reporting from the command line on the console of your Server Core box using the ServerWerOptin.exe command line tool.

Note:
ServerWerOptin.exe is also available on full installations of Windows Server 2008. The commands below are not limited to Server Core installations.

Verifying settings

To verify the settings for Windows Error Reporting on your Server Core box you can type the following command:

ServerWerOptin.exe /query

This command will show you the current status of the Windows Error Reporting Setting and even shows some basic information on what Windows Error Reporting is and where to find the above privacy statement.

Enabling Windows Error Reporting

To enable Windows Error Reporting in Server Core installation you need to choose between one of the two levels of detail inside the Windows Error Reporting reports:

  • Detailed reports
  • Summary reports

Detailed reports

Sending detailed reports will offer Microsoft and/or developers the most information they can get on why the error occurred, how to reproduce the problem and hopefully how to fix the problem. To enable Windows Error Reporting with detailed reports, simply type the following command when in the C:\Windows\System32 context:

ServerWerOptin.exe /detailed

The output will read:

You have chosen to enable Windows Error Reporting
to automatically send detailed reports to Microsoft.

For more information, visit
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=50163

Summary reports

When you’re having privacy or bandwidth concerns you can change the setting of the level of details in Windows Error Reporting reports to Summary reports. To automatically send summary reports, type the following command when in the C:\Windows\System32 context:

ServerWerOptin.exe /summary

The output will read:

You have chosen to enable Windows Error Reporting
to automatically send summary reports to Microsoft.

For more information, visit
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=50163

 

Disabling Windows Error Reporting

If for some reason (check the Active Directory section of this post) the Windows Error Reporting Setting is enabled (meaning Windows Error Reporting is enabled)  while you don’t want it to you can disable Windows Error Reporting and stop its associated service typing:

ServerWerOptin.exe /disable

 

Concluding

The Server Core team decided not to enable Windows Error Reporting by default. ServerWerOptin.exe can be used to disable, enable and query Windows Error Reporting.

Further Reading

Windows Error Reporting Under the Covers
Wikipedia on Windows Error Reporting
Privacy Statement for the Microsoft Error Reporting Service
Why is Windows Error Reporting nicknamed “Dr. Watson”?
Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see
How Windows Error Reporting Helps Customers
MINIDUMP_MODULE Structure
Collecting User-Mode Dumps
System Center Operations Manager 2007 Agentless Exception Monitoring
System Center Operations Manager 2007 Resource Kit tools released
LHS Feature Of The Week #8 – Windows Error Reporting
Configuring Windows Server 2008 Server Core Basic Networking Settings
Configuring Windows Server 2008 Server Core Basic Networking Settings
Requirements for the Works with Windows Server 2008 Program for Software
Windows Error Reporting Options in Windows Vista
Cubic: Why Windows Error Reporting (WER) does not work
Windows Error Reporting and Internet Communication (Windows Server 2003)
Group Policy Settings Reference Windows Vista

Disclaimer Beta Software

The information on this webpage applies to software from Microsoft that was in testing phase but utilizable by experienced users by the time the webpage was written. This software has not been released for sale, distribution or usage for the general public. The information on this webpage and the beta software are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

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