Surprise update fixes 'random hang' problem in Windows 8 Release Preview

Surprise update fixes 'random hang' problem in Windows 8 Release Preview

Summary: If you've experienced a frustrating hang with the Release Preview of Windows 8 on an Intel-based PC, join the club. A new update delivered by Microsoft today should help.

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TOPICS: Software, Windows
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Today's Patch Tuesday delivery from updates included a surprise for Windows 8 (and Windows Server 2012) users: a non-security-related patch labeled as Important. The patch replaces one of the most important system files in Windows, the Hardware Abstraction Layer driver, aka Hal.dll.

On my 64-bit test systems, the update was blandly labeled Update for Windows 8 Release Preview for x64-based Systems (KB2727113). An x86 version is available as well.

Clicking the More information link on the update page leads to this Microsoft Support article, with a title that's among the longest I've ever seen:

Multimedia or communication activities may cause a computer that is running Windows 8 Release Preview or Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate to stop responding

Article ID: 2727113

SYMPTOMS

On a computer that is running Windows 8 Release Preview or Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate, the system may randomly stop responding (hang) when you work on multimedia or communication activities. This problem may occur during video editing, unified communications, or other multimedia activities.

CAUSE

This problem may occur because of an issue in the interaction between the state-machine driving dynamic tick transitions and the state-machine-driving clock rate changes.

RESOLUTION

To resolve this problem, install this update on the computer that is running Windows 8 Release Preview or Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate.

The update appears designed to resolve a nagging bug that has been plaguing some users of the Windows 8 Release Preview who are using hardware built around an Intel "Sandy Bridge" chipset. Rafael Rivera has done the best job of running it down. As he explained in this post on June 26:

To quickly recap, the operating system, for some users, at random, seems to slowly hang — one app at a time — eventually forcing a reboot. We know the issue was confirmed by Microsoft and has reportedly already been fixed in newer builds of Windows 8.

I've run into the bug myself on two or three occasions and encountered similar behavior on some systems in the Consumer Preview. It's annoying, but relatively rare.

Because this update is rated Important, it's installed automatically. If you're running Windows 8 with Automatic Updates enabled, the update should be installed within 48 hours. You can force the update by going to PC Settings, selecting Windows Update, and tapping or clicking the notice that shows how many updates are available to be installed. That in turn will enable a detailed information box showing which updates are available. Click or tap the Install button to kick off the update immediately.

Topics: Software, Windows

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23 comments
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  • Hmm

    Sorry to say, but on three computers where I installed Win8, I have yet to witness this particular issue, the same for some installations of win8 virtualized. Guess I must be lucky, or the issue occurs with a certain combination of soft and hardware.
    sjaak327
    • Amazing Mystery 23

      I think it has to do with user names on ZDNet. If your user name is a random string ending in numbers, then everything from Microsoft works perfectly for you and you have never experienced any problem whatsoever.
      Robert Hahn
      • Actuakky

        It isn't a random string, and the numbers aren't random either, and yes I did not experience this issue, I hate it when people with an obvious agenda, are calling people a liar.
        sjaak327
    • AMD?

      Are you using an AMD processor or video card?
      wyn6
    • re: Hmm

      It doesn't occur in VMs. It doesn't even occur on hosts with Hyper-V enabled. It won't even occur if you have the requisite chipset but are, say, overclocking so have things like SpeedStep disabled. It's pretty particular.
      rseiler
      • Two

        Of my physical installs have indeed Hyper-v enabled, two don't. I run this on intel processors and nvidea gpu's and in one instance both are heavily overclocked :)
        sjaak327
    • I actually read

      that using virtualization helped prevent this bug from occurring. I know I was hitting this bug quite a bit, but it stopped happening for some time.
      SteveWojo
  • didn't fix my "flash of color" Back Switcher glitch

    happens on my hp folio 13 and hp dm4 laptop

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba1opFpbGTU&feature=player_detailpage#t=9s
    rorrr
  • fix or workaround?

    I really want this to be a fix that preserves the dynamic timer coalescing, rather than turning it off for problematic hardware; it's the source of a lot of the battery improvements...
    mary.branscombe
    • fix

      After reading the KB article, which recommends re-enabling the tick workaround, you'll see that it's clearly a fix.
      rseiler
  • This issue ...

    ... was driving me nuts - my MacBook Pro running Win8 RP natively was locking-up 2-3 times a day.

    I saw Rafael's original tweet and post on this issue and implemented his suggested fix. My MBP hasn't hung once since!

    It's great that MS has worked out a solution to this problem because the timer coalescing feature that exacerbates this issue is a powerful way to reduce power consumption.
    bitcrazed
  • Surprise update fixes 'random hang' problem in Windows 8 Release Preview

    Never experienced this hang problem on my hardware. Must be a specific set of hardware with the intel chips. Microsoft Windows 8 has been solid, looking forward to the release in October.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • windows 8 will be fixed

    As always, with service pack 2. OR when Windows 9 comes out. Whichever.
    Our windows 7 laptop still bluescreens. I thought it was fixed (hardware issues) but no, now there are software incompatibilites. When they can fix Windows 7, I'll THINK about putting it on other hardware It certainly isn't ready for market yet, what, years later?
    I'll stick with XP, which, basically, took 8 years to finally be fixed, or simply go with a Linux box, where you get the latest glitchy OS FREE (but then it's usually fixed within days.)
    janitorman
    • It's early, but I'm calling it...

      Troll of the month.

      Congrats, Janitorman!
      Ed Bott
    • And while you're at it...

      Tell your dang kids to keep their baseballs and frizbees out of my yard. And if I catch that dog of yours mid-act, I'll squirt 'em with my hose. Dang whippersnapperkidsand.. incontinentdog... Oh, and keep it down over there after 8pm.. How's a janitor supposed to sleep..

      Now let's see, where was I.. oh yes.. LOAD "Frogger",8,1
      TechNickle
    • Check your drivers

      It's almost certainly going to be drivers, they cause well over 90% of crashes in Windows. Make sure that you are fully up to date with all drivers but unfortunately some manufacturers just don't update / fix their crappy drivers.

      I only had 2 crashes in Windows 7 on my old computer in 2 years despite my main uses being a combination of gaming (Modern Warfare 2 being the main one) and programming (C++, C#, Javascript). My new computer crashed a couple of times a week for the first 2 months before Dell released an updated USB3 driver and since then I've not had a single crash.
      mog0
    • Huh?

      What are some of you people running Windows 7 on - an Intel 486 chipset? I can't recall a single Windows 7 BSD since installing it on my former HP 2740p immediately after release (or even the beta test before that).

      Or are you secretly a MacBook using troll? If not, then good luck with that Linux command line box...
      dksmidtx
    • wow. dude your ignorance is

      ... I cant find a word... my goodness I cant find a word that captures just how utterly insignificant you make your own brain appear to be. wow.
      evolucian911
  • Common Problem on Samsung Series 7 Tablet

    The S7S is the Windows 7 cousin of the developer conference system passed out by Microsoft with the developers preview build of Win 8. It does not happen daily, but then it can happen five or six times in a single day. It often occurs with IE 10 open, particularly podcasts or streams (like ESPN radio or TWIT). Hopefully this will fix the problem, although the work-around that Paul Thurrott published last week (installing Hyper V) also fixes the problem.

    I have not had a singe crash since installing Hyper-V.
    dksmidtx
  • Support Vets2Work

    Our Windows help desk provider WorkSpace provided a question and answer conference call a few days ago pertaining to overall impact, deployments and needs analysis. They figure 18 weeks due to the large amount of stress-testing all our custom code including interoperability with our Dynamics, SharePoint and Lync. On a scale of 1 to 10 WorkSpace is rating this a 3 being on the low side of overall impact. Not overly concerned at this time.
    Lync in the Cloud