Powers Unfiltered

An entrepreneur’s journey into grid computing and partnering with Microsoft, by John Powers

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CPUs Gone Wild

July 12th, 2006 · 1 Comment

(Composed Monday 7/10/2006 en route to Boston for Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.) 

I’ve mentioned my happy relationship with my Dell Latitude 610 laptop, and that relationship continues today on the plane to Boston.  If I choose my tasks appropriately, I’m just as productive in an aisle seat on JetBlue as I am in the office (maybe more — no phone interruptions up here!).  This machine’s got awesome battery life, so it’s coast-to-coast work, which I need today. 


OK, I’m listening to music, and I’ve got more crap open than I “should,” but it’s nothing that should eat battery life.  I’ve disabled wireless, dimmed the screen a bit, and I’m pounding away at a presentation when I look down and my battery icon says 33%!  Where did 67% of my battery power (two fully-charged batteries, nice ones) go??

But I already know, it’s happened again, something has run amok, and I know with near certainty what it is.  OK, Task Manager, what’s up?  Yes, indeed — OUTLOOK.EXE, 90+% of the CPU, so my CPU has been running at 100% nonstop for the last 40 minutes, making the bottom of my laptop hot enough to use as a welding torch.

Earth to Microsoft…  this is intolerable.  This is not Dell.  This is not third-party software.  This is not spyware, viruses, or other malware.  This is Microsoft Outlook (fully patched) talking to Microsoft XP Pro (fully patched).  Outlook has had this problem for (at least) this entire century.  How is it possible that this is still going on?

Have I seen this with other programs?  Yes — second most common is IE6, followed by Word, and once in a while even Firefox will go nuts and peg the CPU indefinitely.  But Outlook leads the league by a wide margin, and it’s unbelievably frustrating — I (and a few hundred million others) leave Outlook open nearly all the time, and it mostly works.  So I get lulled into believing I can work without paying attention to Outlook’s occassional tantrums, and then WHAM, my batteries are gone and half my trip is spent watching Cartoon Network. 

This matters.  Hey Office 2007 Team — this matters.  Hey Vista Team — this matters.  You can Google [Outlook CPU 100%] and related permutations as well as I can — this is not my imagination.  You can look in your own huge incident database about this.  Please get this fixed, OK?


Tags: Usability

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Steve Hill // May 1, 2007 at 6:17 am

    Enough to make a Bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window! I’m on PC, so no battey life issues; and working *in* Outlook, so I noticed straight away, but still maddening!
    I try to save to ‘Drafts’ every few seconds but, inevitably, get carried away with simply trying to write an normal email when, suddenly, the pointer starts twittering/shuddering and I know it’s all gone – my deathless prose, dead! No possbility of cut’n’paste, nor of saving.

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