Infoworld is reporting that there is a very significant memory leak in Windows 7 involving the chkdsk.exe utility which appears when…

you attempt to run the program against a secondary (that is, not the boot partition) hard disk using the "/r" (read and verify all file data) parameter. The problem affects both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and is classified as a "showstopper" in that it can cause the OS to crash (Blue Screen of Death) as it runs out of physical memory.

Randall Kennedy tested the bug against a variety of different builds of the RTM Windows 7.  The bug appeared in VMs, 32-bit Netbooks and 64-bit laptops.  The bug also appears in Windows Explorer when you run the integrated disk check utility.

In each case, the utility executed the first three stages of the test correctly using modest amounts of memory (several hundred megabytes). Then, when it entered the fourth stage (a read test), the chkdsk.exe utility’s memory consumption started to climb rapidly until several gigabytes had been allocated to its process and the test systems in question began to run out of memory.

Kennedy goes on to say that Microsoft is blaming chip components and recommending that users buy new machines.  However, the appearance of the bug in VMWare refutes that hardware is the issue.  VMWare virtualizes the chip components.

The bottom line: A file system-level bug, at this late stage in the development cycle, should be considered a showstopper by most IT organizations. Worse still, user comments suggest that Windows Server 2008 R2 suffers from the same flaw. So while the act of running chkdsk.exe under Windows 7 might not be a common occurrence for most users, it is in fact something that server administrators do quite regularly to ensure volume integrity….

What this latest episode has taught me is that no major release of Windows –- not even one that is more or less a supersized patch of the previous version –- deserves a pass, and that the old wisdom of “wait for the first service pack” still applies with Windows 7.

This is, after all, a Microsoft product.

Windows 7 is currently scheduled to be formally released in October, a month after Apple’s latest generation Snow Leopard OS is slated to hit the market.

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