Problem Steps Recorder (PSR.exe) + Windows Error Reporting = Another tool to help find solutions to software defects

Technorati Tags: PSR,WER,WER Services,Problem Steps Recorder,Repro Steps

There is a bunch of information on the web about PSR and one of the best is this video on CNET:  as you can see a demo of the tool working for an end-user perspective, it behaves differently when invoked by WER as described below.  The key difference is that WER doesn’t collect screenshots.

From an error reporting perspective we plan on exposing this via the WER Services.  The concept is that if you aren’t able to use standard mini-dumps or heap dumps to find the source of the problem, WER Services will allow the PSR tool to be run (with user consent )

Example of screen-shot shown to user:


When we enable an error Bucket to collect PSR data, here is the workflow:

  1. User prompted with a request for additional data
  2. PSR waits until next time the same application is launched
  3. PSR runs silently in the background while user is using the application
  4. PSR captures descriptions of steps user has taken (without screenshots)
  5. IF the same unhandled exception occurs (BucketID)
    1. The Memory dump, Additional Files, and the PSR output is sent in a CAB file through WER
    2. Developer’s can now download CAB files associated with a particular event that contain these steps a user took leading up to the crash
    3. Developer’s can try to reproduce the error locally following these steps.
  6. After PSR steps are sent with CAB the PSR tool is disabled for user


  • PSR.exe when invoked by WER does NOT capture screenshots, see example output below.
  • Only CAB files that contain PSR steps will be submitted to WER, this means that possibly fewer cabs will be sent for a particular Bucket.
  • When Windows 7 firsts launches this feature will only be manually enabled by the team behind

Other links and blog posts:

Sample output:

Problem Step 1: (3/27/2009 7:53:51 PM) User right click on "user consent (editable text)" in "Problem Steps Recorder (PSR.exe) + Windows Error Reporting = Another tool to help find solutions to software defects - Windows Live Writer"

Problem Step 2: (3/27/2009 7:53:53 PM) User left click on "Hyperlink... (menu item)"

Problem Step 3: (3/27/2009 7:53:55 PM) User keyboard input in "Insert Hyperlink" [... Enter]