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MGaluzzi
Feb 27, 2014

What is happening when Windows tells you that a program is not responding?

When a program “locks up” and after a while a Windows pop-up appears to tell you that it is not responding, what is actually happening? Is it just a matter of a time check, and if the process has not responded in a defined amount of time the OS delivers the notification?

jimlynch
03/04/2014
What does it mean when a program is not responding?
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/what-does-it-mean-when-...

"If a program is not responding, it means the program is interacting more slowly than usual with Windows, typically because a problem has occurred in the program. If the problem is temporary, and if you choose to wait, some programs will start responding again. Depending on the options available, you can also choose to close or restart the program.

When you close a program that has stopped responding, all files or documents that you've opened using the program are closed, not just the one that you're viewing when the problem occurs. Some programs might try to save your information, but it depends on the program that you're using. To help prevent information loss, save your work frequently."
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John Faulkner
02/27/2014

Any number of things could be happening - or perhaps more accurately, nothing at all is happening, and thats the problem. Basically if the program fails to respond within a specified amount of time then windows will mark it as not responding. If the program is poorly written then perhaps it is doing something so intensive on the main thread of the program (downloading a file, etc) that it will not release any cpu cycles for the program to respond for things like screen updates, etc.

 

It could even just be sitting there with a modal dialog box open waiting for you to click ok, but you can't see it behind some other window. it will wait patiently until the end of time, or a power outage, whichever comes first.

 

It could be trying to use low level services for which there is an incompatible driver that is attempting to do somethign that windows doesnt like, so windows blocks its access, it keeps trying anyway and fails to respond to your program, and your program just sits there and waits, becoming unresponsive as well.

 

There could be a hardware fault that the program is completely insulated from that creates pretty much the same scenario, the hardware won't respond, so the program waits indefinately, becoming un-responsive again. Well written programs should provide a timeout for such situations but the situations are numerous and often unforeseeable.

 

There are numerous other possibilities, all of them producing similar symptoms for the user - an unresponsive ui. often the only thing you can do is press alt-control-delete select the task manager, find your programs root task in the list of running programs (probably marked as not responding) and kill the process, restarting the program if need be.

 

Sometimes doing that over and over will leave your systems memory a bit dirty, and rebooting is the only way to clear it out.

 

-jf

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