Nasty Memory Leak Found in Windows 7 RTM Build
August 6, 2009 11:05 AM
Just when it looked like Windows 7 was clear to sail to market, a catastrophic bug has been found. The bug reported can blue screen the OS and may result in a delay of the release date. Thus far Microsoft reportedly claims it to be a chipset drivers issue, but testers have found the bug also occurs in VMWare.
Microsoft insists its not to blame
Aside from a minor squabble about the
User Account Control's security settings
, that it later relented on, Microsoft's Windows 7 beta and release candidate builds have met with little criticism and plenty of praise. The builds have offered
performance surpassing Windows Vista
noticeably, while at the same time improving further on Vista's level of graphical polish. And notably they have been seemingly free of almost any
However, Microsoft is now in code-red panic mode as a
has been found in Windows 7's RTM build, one which threatens to kill the OS's release party. The RTM build -- 7600.16385 -- thus far only received by a handful, features a reportedly
memory leak in the unassuming, but frequently used program chkdsk.exe.
When scanning a second hard disk (a non-boot partition or second physical drive) using the "/r" (read and verify all file data) parameter the utility starts to leak memory like its a monsoon and quickly runs up a high enough memory debt that it blue screens and crashes the system, according to some (others merely report a memory usage of around 98 percent within seconds, but without the legendary "blue screen of death").
The bug has been confirmed on many different hardware setups --it's been verified to occur on everything from a Intel Atom-based netbook running the 32-bit version, to a Intel Core 2 Duo notebook running the 64-bit version, and a VMware Workstation 6.5.2 virtual machine running the 32-bit version.
Explorer.exe, which runs the utility does not release the excessively large amounts of memory it gobbles up, compounding the problem.
Microsoft is reportedly trying to avoid claiming responsibility, blaming the problem on chipset driver issues and telling users to upgrade their firmware. Yes, that makes absolutely no sense, considering the bug has been verified to exist in VMware. However, that's the current stance Microsoft is reportedly taking.
One painful option for Microsoft is likely to delay the release of Windows 7. Given that Vista doesn't have the bug and it seems to be an underlying file system issue it could take a substantial amount of time to fix -- file system corruption issues in
Windows Home Server
went unresolved for months. A delay of Windows 7 could help give competitors like Apple and Google steam, but it would at least spare users of the dangers of this critical error.
The other main alternative is to release Windows 7 broken in hopes of fixing it in the near future. However, this would essentially kill any prospects for IT adoption. Further, the new OS would have an easily exploitable security hole -- just gain access to a Windows 7 system as a standard user and run the utility to crash the system with ease.
A final rather unlikely possibility is that Microsoft will be able quickly (within the next week or two) find and fix the problem, without having to delay its release or ship broken code. However, this seems rather unlikely, especially considering Microsoft reportedly says that it has been unable to duplicate the problem and is stick to its belief that faulty hardware is to blame. The longer it sticks with this line of thinking, the longer the OS will likely be delayed.
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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