Something Happened

My first experience with the Windows 10 media creation tool was, in a word, terrible. After 20 minutes or so of downloading, the tool told me that “Something happened” and the only option was to exit. That’s probably what passes for error diagnostics at Microsoft nowadays. Don’t overburden the user with information in case it might be helpful, at most tell them to try again because errors magically fix themselves (and if not, they’re SOL anyway).

After applying some common sense, I guessed that the tool was probably running out of disk space and made more room on the system drive. Lo and behold, the media creation tool worked and spat out a functioning ISO image!

It should be noted that the target for the ISO image was a drive with tons of free space, but drive C: only had about 3GB free. The tool seems to need roughly twice the size of the final ISO image on the system drive before the image ends up on the target filesystem.

In the bad old days of dark 1980s, it was considered standard practice to check available disk space and if it ran out, report that that’s what happened. Apparently the old generation of programmers at Microsoft died out and the new one hasn’t learned this advanced technique yet.


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17 Responses to Something Happened

  1. Todd Eigenschink says:

    Back in about 1994 my employer was starting to use SourceSafe. As I recall, the installer wouldn’t run on my machine. It wasn’t saying it was out of disk space, exactly, but there was some error message that hinted at that. However, I had plenty of free space.

    After some guesswork and calculation, I decided that the amount of free space on my hard drive was overflowing an N-bit integer, for some value of N that made sense with hardware and compilers of the time. I wrote a little program to chew up a bunch of disk space, after which SourceSafe installed just fine.

  2. dosfan says:

    It actually said “Something happened” ?!? I wouldn’t even consider that an error message, that seems like a joke except that it is in software from a major software company. Did it even report an error code though even that is questionable. Given the size of hard drives today there is no reason not to display a reasonable message concisely explaining the error that occurred. Everyone involved in the decision to allow such an unhelpful and pathetic message as “Something happened” in software should be fired immediately. You have to wonder if the programmers even put a proper disk space check in there or does it just crap out once the disk is full ? Many programmers today don’t really know what they’re doing but that’s what comes from writing code in stupid object-oriented languages – a lack of understanding of how to properly write software.

  3. Richard Wells says:

    A lot of error codes come back with values listed as “unknown error” and displaying “something happened” isn’t much worse than displaying “unknown error.”

    Yes, it seems to be a clear development failure that the release candidate was not tested on systems that had extensive installs and thus minimal amounts of free hard disk space. I can think of a few methods for checking disk free space that would include free space that an operating system upgrade should not write into without preventing the ability to rollback.

  4. Michal Necasek says:

    Not a joke, though I failed to make a screenshot. And no error code, unless it was very cleverly hidden somehow.

    With multitasking operating systems, checking for available disk space is naturally problematic because it may still run out… then again if software needs 5GB and only 3GB is available at the outset, it would seem prudent to inform the user if not refuse operation. It’s unlikely that disk space will be accidentally freed without user intervention.

  5. dosfan says:

    Displaying “unknown error” is also unacceptable. At the very least an error code should be displayed, at the very least that provides some info for tech support. “Something happened” suggests that the developers are incompetent and don’t really know what’s going with their own software which is an extremely bad situation and certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence in Windows 10.

    Also why the heck is Windows 10 a multi-gigabyte download ?!? I guess I’m very old school but it seems to me that an OS should be small. Of course each successive release of Windows is much bigger that the previous and has more and more unnecessary bloat and of course this stuff is coded using increasingly ridiculous crap (C++, C# or whatever the current OOP nightmare language is) which further increases overhead.

  6. Michal Necasek says:

    It is big. I don’t know what’s in there, but I suspect a good chunk of the growth is caused by including tons of drivers for popular hardware. That’s something which didn’t use to be necessary.

    I think “something happened” indicates that software is becoming a maintenance-free (i.e. non-maintainable) “appliance” which either works or doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, the user can’t do anything about it. Hardly an improvement but there it is.

  7. raijinzrael says:

    @Michal Necasek
    I also got a similar message “Something Happened” so all what you said is true. But i got the message for 2 different reasons:

    -Running Media Creation utility/Windows update upgrade program from an standard user account: Never ever try to run the reservation process, or use the Media Creation tool from a standard user account. These utilities don’t like that, even if you provide an administrator account password from inside your normal user account. Always login and use an Admin Account to run these tools.

    -For unknow reasons the upgrade process doesn’t like MBR formated disks. From 5 machines that i’ve tried to run the process, 2 MBR formatted, and 3 with GPT style partitions and UEFI boot, the machines with MBR formatted disks failed the upgrade process with the dread “Something happened” error, while the machines with GPT partitions/UEFI style boot upgraded just fine. This happens in both Win7 and Win8. For machines with MBR boot, always use the media creation tool to upgrade the machine.

  8. Michal Necasek says:

    The admin thing is easy to work around (if stupid), but the MBR issues sound like a major problem to me. There are lots of MBR disks out there.

    In fact I don’t think 32-bit Windows 7/8 supports UEFI booting at all. Were the systems you tried to upgrade all 64-bit or were some 32-bit?

  9. Michal Necasek says:

    I don’t know what’s more sad, the useless error message or a clueless tech blogger who thinks a 100% generic error message signifies one specific problem. Sigh.

  10. raijinzrael says:

    @Michal Necasek
    The ones that i tried were all them 64Bit.

  11. slipstream says:

    32-bit Windows 8.x definitely supports UEFI booting. (Well, I know for sure 8.1 does, not that sure about 8)

  12. Yuhong Bao says:

    @slipstream: I think it is mostly for Atom tablets though.

  13. DOS says:

    @dosfan: When you say “tech support” in the context of a consumer software product, what you really mean is a unique string that you can Google for or post about in forums, right? 🙂

    I think it is likely that “Something happened” is like “TODO: come up with a good error msg”, i.e. whoever wrote it planned to go back and fix it! Search the web for “printf something happened” with the quotes and you’ll get a number of matches, I think it’s a kind of common phrase to use as an error message placeholder.

  14. dosfan says:

    I think it’s likely that whoever wrote that was an idiot. No worthwhile programmer would use a nonsense placeholder message in production software when a clear message (e.g. “Insufficient disk space on drive ” or volume ) would clearly explain the problem. That’s just inexcusable laziness and/or incompetence.

  15. ender says:

    There’s a bunch of reasons for the Something happened errors, and those reasons are cleverly hidden in the setup log files, which reside in \Windows.~bt\sources\Panther directory on the system drive.

    As for the size of Windows install, it’s been getting smaller – 7 was larger than 8, and 8.1 is larger than 10.

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