Windows Vista crashing and burning is the worst case scenario, but a scenario nonetheless, and even more than that, a viable possibility. If Windows has taught us anything, especially Windows XP, it is that there is a thin line between a completely functional operating system one minute, and a perpetual error status the next. Windows XP was no stranger to system crashes. Not even by a long shot. And this is why Windows Vista comes with a luxuriant arsenal of tools addressing just such worst case scenarios. As you will see, some utilities have survived from Windows XP, and some are brand new to Vista.
However, in Windows Vista, system crashes, either localized or general are no longer catastrophic in nature. But you do have to keep something in mind. A crash is seldom the exclusive fault of Vista. The fact of the matter is that the operating system is just a collection of application programming interfaces. Left alone to run in its basic configuration, stripped down of all third party code from device drivers to various applications Vista will be quite hard to crash, if not even impossible. I heard an interesting perspective in relation to operating system failures. Something in the line that you have to work hard to crash Linux, but you simply have to work on Windows to crash it.
Well, no copy of Vista in use is bare of third party code. The platform has to integrate seamlessly with the hardware it is running on via device drivers and will also grow with an inherent assortment of programs, form text editing applications to games, and to whatever the user might have deployed. Sometimes it’s the way third party code bundled with Vista, sometimes applications can generate exceptions and sometimes it’s a Vista error or even a hardware failure, at the source of a system crash. According to Microsoft, Vista is, in addition to an apex of security, also an epitome of performance, reliability, compatibility and stability. Not entirely true, given the collection of troubleshooting and repair options that ship by default with the platform.
Going for the Lesser Evil: If only Vista errors were like lightening, never striking twice in the same place. Well, that is obviously not the case. The lesser evil involves, of course, errors that go away by themselves. Generally speaking, this is the purpose of the Restart. In certain situations, whatever problem that emerges can be easily resolved via a restart and nothing more. Once Vista reboots, the issue will be gone, functionality is restored completely and you can go about your business as if nothing happened.
But what do you do when the error sticks even after you restart Vista? Well, if the operating system is able to start normally, then half of the error is already resolved. All you have to do is pinpoint its source. Usually, an exception can be associated with one of the last tasks you, a program, or the operating system performed. New installed applications, drivers, modifications in the settings of the operating system, uninstalled programs, freshly deployed updates or upgrades. You will have to think about all the possible alterations introduced to Vista from the time it was functioning as clock-work to the point where it got stuck on alerting you about a continuous error. Revert all modifications and you should return Vista to its normal status.
There is also the possibility that you just won't be able to put your finger on it. Either because you are helping a friend, or administering another machine, or due to an anodyne update that runs in the background with the exception of an easy to forget approval dialog box. In such a case, there are three things that you should keep in mind: Control Panel, Device Manager and msconfig.exe. From Control Panel you will be able to uninstall any program or Windows updates installed that might cause the issue. By default, Control Panel will only show all the applications installed on your system. You will have to click on the Installed Updates option under the Tasks menu in the left pane.