3

In Windows 3.X we had multiple type of error dialogs that could be displayed:

Application crash:

enter image description here

Application error that could be recovered:

What did the Ignore button do in Windows 3.1 when an application encountered a general protection fault?

enter image description here

System error (by the lack of a better name):

(simulated by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del)

enter image description here

Question:

Were text mode errors more severe than graphical mode errors ?

Or was the type error dialog being shown not related to its severity level at all?

  • It's not really clear what yo're asking. Would you mind to elaborate what you're looking for? (I assume a 'Because the programmer made it that way' isn't what you're looking for, or is it? – Raffzahn Jul 23 at 20:30
  • I have edited my question, hope it's clearer now. Basically I am trying to understand when and why one or the other were shown (text or graphical), generally when you'd get a text mode error you were good for rebooting the computer for proper operation :) – Aybe Jul 23 at 20:38
  • Oh, ok, that's quite simple: It's not so much about the severity, but if the system was able to handle it in context of a user processes or not. Some of them (like your example) have been handled in later versions in a more beautiful way, but the topic stays. – Raffzahn Jul 23 at 20:46
  • 1
    Alright, would you mind posting an answer and I'll accept it? – Aybe Jul 23 at 20:48
  • It should be noted that "recovered" (both in your use and the article linked) is very misleading. Something has gone wrong, and something is almost guaranteed to have the wrong value afterwards: you've ignored the problem, not recovered from it. You should not attempt to do more than try and save any pending work (in, as the dialog notes, a new file, since the error may mean you'll be saving garbage and you don't want to overwrite the original file that might still be valid (although out of date)). – TripeHound Jul 25 at 11:07
3

Were text mode errors more severe than graphical mode errors ?

It's not so much about the severity, but if the system was able to handle it in context of a user processes or not. Some of them (like your example) have been handled in later versions in a more beautiful way, but the topic stays.

Or was the type error dialog being shown not related to its severity level at all?

More indirect, as severe errors are often errors not really related to a certain application but the core system - thus usually resulting in a blue screen.

Blue screens also differ not only in their source, but also by operating different than any message box. When a blue screen is displaye, the whole system is halted. This is important so no process may change the sate or continue harmful action.

When message boxes are displayed, basic OS operation and background processes are not halted. All they can do is halting UI interaction by being application or system global, thus preventing any user input for an application or the system at all - except for the message box that is.

3

A General Protection Fault means the application tried to access memory that was not allocated to it. It's a user mode crash. The OS can recover from this by halting the application.

A bluescreen is a kernel mode crash. Something in the kernel itself (often a driver) or faulty hardware did something wrong in a way from which the OS cannot recover. Of the two types of crashes, this is the most severe.

3

The premise of your question is somewhat incorrect, though it's a common misconception by people conflating how Windows 3.1 worked and how Windows 95 worked.

In Windows 3.1, if an application had an error, it would show the graphical box you included, and as it says in the Raymond Chen article you linked that box sometimes had an option to Ignore the error.

You show the screen that one gets when hitting Ctrl+Alt+Del, but that's really just the Ctrl+Alt+Del screen. That's not an error screen, it's a tool used to help you stop a hung program.

There were some other "blue screen" messages, particularly for system messages that needed to coordinate between the DOS VMs and the Windows applications, such as handling device conflicts when more than one application was trying to use a serial port. You can see some examples in another Raymond Chen post, "Steve Ballmer did not write the text for the blue screen of death". These were messages not really specific to an application, but regarding sharing the system resources between them and prompting you how to handle them. However, as that article says, Windows 3.1 didn't really have a "blue screen of death":

If an MS-DOS application crashed, you got a blue screen message saying that the application crashed, but Windows kept running. If it was a device driver that crashed, then Windows 3.1 shut down the virtual machine that the device driver was running in. But if the device driver crashed the Windows virtual machine, then the entire virtual machine manager shut itself down, sometimes (but not always) printed a brief text message, and handed control back to MS-DOS. So you might say that it was a black screen of death.

To answer your question, the presentation of the message wasn't related to the severity, but whether it was an application-level or system-level message.

2

There are three types of error in your question. I'll cover them in least to most severe.

enter image description here

This is an error that allows the application to continue. An example might be an attempt to access a resource that it does not have access to, such as a previously released file handle. The error can be ignored and the application can continue, but the effects are unpredictable which is why it advises you to save your work.

enter image description here

This type of error is more severe, and prevents the application continuing. For example, the application's executable memory may have been corrupted, or its program counter been set to a bad address so there is no way to know where to continue running from. In that case, the application must be shut down.

enter image description here

This message is displayed when the user user pressed CTRL-ALT-Delete, which was used to kill and application that had locked up, but no applications were locked up as far as he system is aware. This can happen when a part of the OS itself locks up, or a vital service like a disk driver or filesystem handler. When that happens it is often impossible to save work or restart the computer normally, because those actions all end up waiting for the locked up component.

As such, the user's only choices are to return to Windows and continue waiting, or force a restart without a safe shutdown first.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.