Using Windows XP Dr. Watson

If you’ve ever come across this doctor, chances are the prognosis wasn’t all that good. Dr. Watson is a tool included with Windows for the purpose of diagnosing errors related to your system software environment. While most of us have come across a Dr. Watson error due to a misbehaving application, many people don’t realize that the good doctor can be used to capture error information as well. For example, if you’re constantly experiencing errors when opening a program, you could first open Dr. Watson, and then open the application to reproduce the error. Dr. Watson will then trap the error information, in order for it to be provided to technical support staff at Microsoft, for example.

Beyond simply capturing information, Dr. Watson can also provide you with a great deal of current environment information. When opened from System Information, the program hides in your System Tray. Double-clicking on this icon forces Dr. Watson to analyze your system for errors, and reports back with results. If you get the message shown at left, the news is generally good. However, much more information is provided by clicking View – Advanced View, which provides general system information, as well as details of running tasks, the startup environment, loaded drivers, and more. All of this information is invaluable to technical support staff.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.