Using PerfWatson to report performance issues to Microsoft

Using PerfWatson to report performance issues to Microsoft

  • Comments 36

By Selma Ikiz

Would you like Visual Studio 2010 to be even faster? Would you like any performance issue you see to be  reported automatically without any hassle? Well now you can, with the new Visual Studio PerfWatson extension! Install this extension and help us deliver a faster Visual Studio experience.

We’re constantly working to improve the performance of Visual Studio and take feedback about it very seriously. Our investigations into these issues have found that there are a variety of scenarios where a long running task can cause the UI thread to hang or become unresponsive. Visual Studio PerfWatson is a low overhead telemetry system that helps us capture these instances of UI unresponsiveness and report them back to Microsoft automatically and anonymously. We then use this data to drive performance improvements that make Visual Studio faster.

Here’s how it works: when the tool detects that the Visual Studio UI has become unresponsive, it records information about the length of the delay and the root cause, and submits a report to Microsoft. The Visual Studio team can then aggregate the data from these reports to prioritize the issues that are causing the largest or most frequent delays across our user base. By installing the PerfWatson extension, you are helping Microsoft identify and fix the performance issues that you most frequently encounter on your PC.

To enable PerfWatson perform correctly, please make sure that Windows Error Reporting (WER) is enabled on your machine. PerfWatson employs WER service to send the collected data to Microsoft. For details on WER and how to enable it, please refer to PerfWatson blog.

Download and Installation

Following are the pre-requisites for installing Visual Studio PerfWatson:

  • Windows Vista/2008/2008 R2/7 (Note: PerfWatson is not supported for Windows XP)
  • Visual Studio 2010 SP1 (Professional, Premium, or Ultimate)

The extension can be downloaded from the Visual Studio Extension Manager or at the VS Gallery.

  • The tool doesn’t work on Windows XP
  • The tool needs WER be enabled. For details on how to enable WER, please see this blog post

Please let us know what you think! Thanks!

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  • Does it really install on Express editions? I thought no extensions, period.

  • No I don't want it to be faster, I really like it to be fast already. Ah well, I'm probably better of with a machine upgrade and a complete windows re-install and less plug-ins.

  • Great idea but hopefully this will lead to some quick patches for the CONSTANT crashing we experience on multiple machines with multiple WPF based projects.  Things got worse in SP1 not better.  I really wish Microsoft would focus on fixing the problems in the tools rather than introducing new features with new problems at every release!

  • @Sean

    We can only fix crashes we are aware of.  Have you filed Connect bugs?  Is there a repro that we could use to look into the situation?  Do you have third party extensions/AddIns installed?


  • So - A case where submitting crash reports actually DO something (Apparently)


    Most people in IT have learned to just click "Don't Send" every time explorer.exe crashes, for the simple reason that a million people (At least) DO click "Send" on a daily basis, and as such, the reports are not individually examined.

    So... Are these actually going to do something, and is there somewhere where we can see what reports HAVE been submitted (Or is this closed to the general public, similar to the above explorer.exe crashes)

    Thanks, and enjoy the rest of your day :)

    - Reelix

  • @Reelix

    Well, Don't Send just ensures that the bug may never be fixed.  While I can't guarantee sending a crash report == fix, especially for things like Windows, which has, literally, billions of users, we certainly do look at every report for actionable data that could lead to a bug fix. Sometimes the necessary info just isn't in the crash dump, i.e. whatever happened happened LONG before the crash and there isn't enough evidence in the dump to find out exactly what happened to cause the ultimate crash.

    The Connect site does give some public visibility into the state of bugs and we try to update it as we find information or work arounds.


  • @Ryan: unfortunately, the Connect site mainly gives public visibility of the "won't fix" state that seemingly 99.9% of your reported bugs end up with.

    I suspect that's a large part of the reason why so few people bother to report bugs to Microsoft. (not specifically related to any specific product or type of bug)

    Of course, on the subject of VS performance specifically, it also seems kind of futile to provide such feedback data on a product that isn't going to be updated. If Microsoft didn't live in the 80's, and understood that it is possible (and beneficial for all parties) for a product to be updated more than once during its lifetime, and more than once per year, then customers might actually get to see some of the improvements that their feedback caused.

    But when we know that "nothing is going to change until VS11 anyway", some may question why they should bother installing this extension. Why give Microsoft information on how to improve VS10, if Microsoft isn't going to improve VS10?

  • Please address when VS 2008 will get SP2 given that SP1 was released Aug 2008 (over 2.5 years ago). Can we also get XP SP4 since SP3 was released May 2008 (3 years ago).

    It's important to us since getting a multi-man year effort approved to do a full retest of one of our larger systems is not possible. Our core systems each have from 200,000 to 750,000 lines of .NET code.

  • @grumpy Wow...exactly the way I feel...I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who thinks "why keep giving feedback when they just keep taking and not giving?" Man, you sure hit the nail on the head.  They're all about asking for feedback, but when you start asking about a service pack, they go completely silent.  Silly corporate ways.

  • @Reelix,

    We look at all the Watson crash reports in aggregate.  Submitting a report is like voting for it to be fixed.  Those with the most votes get fixed (if they are fixable, sometimes they occur in 3rd party code that's outside our control, in which case we try to contact the 3rd party and let them know, but we can't force them to fix the problems).  So, the more times a problem is sent in, the more likely it is to get fixed.

    @Grumpy and @Ted,

    When we find a specific problem that needs fixing right away, we issue a QFE.  These can be found on Connect.  We direct customers to them who need them, but we don't push them out to everyone because they're not as well tested as a full blown service pack (which takes several months to test and stabalize).

  • @David Berg: after the list of QFE's is quite long (as is the case with VS2008), why do you not release a SP?  I really appreciate the QFE's, but it's a bit arrogant to tell a big corporate customer who's still on the previous release to just install all of the QFE's.  Yes it takes time/resources for MS to put together a SP, but didn't the corporate customer take the time to invest in your product?  It just seems the customer isn't truly valued.

  • Dean you are absolutely right, what happened to the habit of releasing more than one service pack per VS product before obsoleting it. VS 6 is the last one that had more than one service pack, and VS 6 is now 13 years old!!!

    This QFE business is a mess for deployment and a pain.

  • For those that like to "peer behind the curtain", PerfWatson Monitor - also a free download on the Visual Studio Gallery. It lets you see what PerfWatson sees by giving a real-time display of delays in Visual Studio's UI thread.

  • Although I have been using PerfWatson for a while, and it has been useful, I am ready to uninstall it now.  What do I need to do to uninstall PerfWatson?  It does not show up in my Control Panel's Program and Features (or at least it is not called "PerfWatson" there).

  • You should be able to uninstall it from within Visual Studio.  Open Tools\Extension Manager, and "Visual Studio PerfWatson" should be in the list.  Choose "Uninstall" there to remove it.

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