Troubleshooting Interactive Services Detection
My earlier post on Interactive Services Detection is very popular. It was targeted toward developers. Based on the comments I receive, I think most readers are users looking for some help. If you’re a developer, make sure to check out my previous post. If you are just a user trying to figure out why Interactive Services Detection is blinking at you and how to possibly troubleshoot the issue, this post is for you.
Why is this happening (when I boot; every 5 minutes; intermittently)?
First, some background… There are two main types of “processes” that run on Windows – desktop applications and services.
Desktop applications "interact" with the user through a user interface (windows, dialogs, etc.).
Services run in the "background" and do system stuff and communicate with other applications.
Services should not interact with the user. Windows 7 and Vista have a boundary that isolates services from trying to interact with the user. If the service tries to present some kind of user interface, you will get the Interactive Service Detection flashing toolbar button.
There could be a couple of reasons why this is occurring. However in most cases, the service experienced an “unhandled exception”. Unhandled exceptions are errors that the programmer didn’t expect and didn’t handle with code. Most people call this a “crash”.
Services generally start at boot time. Therefore, if the service is crashing when it starts, you will see the interactive services detection button at boot time. If you ignore the notification or select “Ask me later”, Interactive Services Detection will notify you again in 5 minutes.
If you only see the Interactive Services Detection intermittently, this is very likely the service crashing due to some unexpected condition. For example, I have 3rd party printer software on my personal laptop that crashes occasionally and I get a Interactive Services Detection notification. I’ll keep the brand name of the printer to myself .
Identifying the Service
As a user, your best option is to identify what service is causing the notification. If you know what software is causing the notification, you can check the manufacturer’s website for an update or contact support.
The first thing to inspect is the Interactive Services Detection dialog. Be sure to click the “Show Program Details” button.
This is a message from a service I created that has an intentional unhandled exception. If you look at the “Program path” this can give you some clues about the service that is crashing. The path can give you the company name, application, and most importantly the executable name. In most cases, you can search for the executable name (e.g. UISampleService.exe) using your favorite search engine.
Next, you should select “View the Message”. This will take you to the “secured desktop” where you can read the message.
Here we can see some additional information about the crash. Collect this information and try searching using some of this information. If this was a real application, I would type the following into a search engine: UISampleService.exe “Microsoft Visual C++ Debug Library” R6010 “abort() has been called” and see if you can find any support articles, fixes, discussions, or updates for the issue.
If you can’t find anything with a search, you may want to consider contacting support for the product that is having the issue. Keep all the information you collected so far to pass along to the support engineer. Also, feel free to point the support engineer to this blog.
Even More Clues…
If it is a crash that is causing the issue, you may also want to investigate what information is being collected. The best way to see the history of the problem is with Reliability Monitor. Type “reliability” in the Start menu search box and click the “View reliability history” link.
This utility allows you to see the history of all the issues on your computer. If a service is crashing, it should show up here. We can see that there is an entry for my sample crashing service, UISampleService.exe.
In this utility, you can identify when and how often the crash is occurring. You may want to try the “Check for a solution” action for the error. This will check to see if the application vendor posted a solution for this issue on the Windows Error Reporting system.
The Tile Button is Displayed Too Quickly and I Can't Click it Fast Enough
I received this question a few times in the comments. Great question! Here's a technique you can use to troubleshoot the issue. You will need to create a custom view in the event viewer.
From the Start menu search box, type eventvwr to start the Event Viewer.
In the tree view in the left pane, right click Custom Views and select Create Custom View...
In the Custom View dialog, select the "By Source" radio button and then select Interactive Services detection in the "Event sources" drop down box.
Click Ok. In the "Save Filter" dialog, name your custom view. e.g. "Interactive Services Detection". Click OK. You are now configured to capture these events when the occur.
If you ever see the Interactive Services Detection tile appear on the taskbar, you can return to the Event Viewer (eventvwr) and investigate the information that has been logged. Here is an example event where I "tricked" calculator to run in session 0 to cause the issue.
Can I Disable the Notification?
The short answer is yes but it is not recommended. The likely reason for the notification is there is something wrong with a service on your computer. You can disable the notification but you are not fixing the problem. Some good analogies would be putting black tape over the “Check Engine” warning light on your car dashboard or removing the battery from your smoke detector.
The Interactive Services Detection notification is initiated by the Interactive Services Detection Service. If you disable this service, you will no longer receive the notification for the problem service. Also, you will not receive notification for any misbehaving service on your system.
To disable the service, open the Services control panel by typing services.msc in the Start menu search box.
In the Services control panel, find “Interactive Services Detection” in the list. Click the “stop” button to stop it if it is started.
Double click the Interactive Services Detection entry to open the Properties dialog. Set the “Startup type” to Disabled.
You are now blissfully unaware of any misbehaving services.