Join Steve Fullmer for an in-depth discussion in this video The Problem Steps Recorder, part of Troubleshooting Windows 7.
- You're watching the interface technical training Windows 7 troubleshooting module set, and in this set we're going to talk about the tools, as well as the techniques, for troubleshooting Windows 7. Now, it's a pretty elegant operating system, but you can always have problems go wrong, whether they're based on accidental user error, incompatibility of an application, hey, network card connectivity, the vacuum cleaner knocked the plug out, whether it is, there's lots of troubleshooting, and we're going to talk about this. But I would be remiss if I didn't start with one of the best tools.
I really debated whether I wanted to put this tool into the troubleshooting section or I wanted to put it into deployment section. It's one of those tools that are just built into Windows 7 that if you're not aware of it, you need to. Most of the interface instructors who manage clients or servers have talked about this at one point or another. So, I'm adding it to the video series. Here we go. The Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder. Now, the problem steps recorder was simply designed to replace the big dump files we used to get when you have a problem.
And so, if you're trying to diagnose a problem, capture the sequence behind the problem, you go down to the start menu, and you type problem steps, and it says record steps to reproduce a problem, and we go to this little interface that looks kind of like the panel on a software DVR, digital video recorder, and all we need to do is start recording. Well, what I'm going to do here is I'm going to start the recording, and I'm going to go through a set of steps. In this case, let me think what I want to do.
I don't know. Steps to show somebody how to launch a virtual machine, for instance. And so, I can say start record, and it says, there are windows on your desktop running as an administrator. That's fine, okay. It's going to capture some data. That's fine while I'm doing demo. I'm going to say start, all programs, Windows virtual PC, Windows XP mode, and I'm clicking those. You'll see a little flash as I do it. Up comes starting the virtual machine, enabling the integration, and now we have Windows XP mode up.
I'm sliding down here. I'm going to say start, and I'm going to log off. In this case, log off because Windows XP mode as an integrated feature, is going to put it into hibernation mode. So, all I did here was just a set of steps, okay. Ending the program for the monitor, et cetera. I'm going to hurry it up and say end now, just for the sake of time here. And I'm logged off as the XP mode user. I'm going to shut it, which takes it back into hibernating my virtual PC.
And so, I just did a set of steps there. If I crashed mid-process, rather than creating a dump file, what I've captured is all of the state of that particular shell on Windows 7. I'm going to stop the recording of the problem steps recorder, and it wants me to save a compressed or zip file. Just for the sake of speed here, rather than saving it to the network or a CD or a DVD, I'm going to save it to my desktop, but you could save it anyplace that you can see or to which you're connected from your PC.
So, on my desktop I'm going to save a file that's called demo, okay, and it's just the demonstration. I'm going to say save. And so, now on my desktop here there's a zip file called demo.zip, created by running the problem steps recorder. Now, the formatted file here is an MHTML. It's a media HTML file. Microsoft's default for editing or managing, that would be Silverlight, but you can play it as an HTML document inside your browser. So, I'm going to double-click on this.
This is launching Internet Explorer, okay, and it's going to ask me later about essentially add-ins. So, it's launched Internet Explorer, because it's an MHTML file, and it's talking me through, I can review the recorded problem steps, review the recorded problems steps as a slide show or review any of the additional details that are captured inside the shell I was running as I was demonstrating how to launch that virtual PC. Now, I could this pretty much for anything. So, there we go. It highlights in green here, this lime green, that I clicked the start menu, in order to do the virtual PC, and at the top it says, the user did a left click on all programs, menu item, in start menu for my second step, and it's highlighting all programs.
It's then coming down here and saying, the user did a left click on Windows virtual PC outlining an item in the start menu. Does anybody see here how I might really like to use this prior to deployment? If you're getting ready to teach users how to use Windows 7, you could capture the explicit set of steps, the click-by-click, type-by-type, that you would do in order to launch or use a particular application and capture that series of screenshots with instructions, and then you could take the zip file and put it on desktop before deployment, or you could send it to somebody as a mail attachment and say, hey, rather than capturing fish for you, let me show you how to fish on Windows 7 or other operating systems.
And so, I go beyond that. The next step says, I went into start menu, and I selected Windows virtual PC, up it came. Now, you'll note I have several duplicate menus, because I was moving my mouse and navigating. I can use a standard HTML or MHTML editor, your choice, and change this problem steps recorder. I can literally take the screens instructions out of here. I can type a paragraph underneath it. Here's what you're doing and why. So, I can edit this document and save it. I don't have to just leave it in this native mode, but it gives me a great way to capture screenshots and directions, whether I'm troubleshooting or not.
If you've got a user with problems, go have a log-in script or remote desktop to them, or even better, remote assistance, and start the problem steps recorder and ask them to repeat exactly what they were doing when the problem happened. What you will have here is a series of screenshots with exactly the typing and the mouse strokes that they did on the system, that you can then capture. Microsoft will look through these, that has behind it. So, I scroll back to the top, and it says, show me the details. Those additional details behind it are literally showing me everything that the system did as I'm going through this step-by-step process.
Those are the additional details behind it, and it's showing me all the way at the end. So, I'm just going to come back here and go through my steps, and it's literally capturing everything I do, all the way through the closing of that virtual session. And so, if you were to crash, it's going to capture the state of the shell, the registers, the relevant information for this shell, not for everything about your OS. So, rather than a massive dump file, you have a small set of problem steps that have been recorded for resolution or analysis or that can be used to guide or instruct a user how better to use their system in Windows 7.
I just, I cannot say how great I love this little tool when you're trying to do diagnostics or work with a user, whether they're local or remote. It lets you use it as a tool to diagnose, as well as a tool to teach, so that problems in your Windows 7 environment are vastly diminished. Go play with the problem steps recorder. You'll love it.