One of the often overlooked enhancements that was made to Windows with the release of Vista is the capability to write a complete (large) minidump describing the state of a process from Task Manager. To use this functionality, switch to the Processes tab in Task Manager, access the right click (context) menu for a process for which your user account has access to, and select Create Dump File.
Although not as handy as having an “in-box” debugger (ntsd was most regrettably removed from the Vista distribution on the grounds that too many users were getting it and the (typically more up to date) DTW distribution of ntsd confused), Microsoft has thrown the developer crowd at least something of a bone with the dump file support in Task Manager. (It’s at least easier to talk a non-developer through getting a dump via Task Manager than via ntsd, or so one would suppose.)
The create dump file option writes a full minidump out to %temp%\exename.dmp. The dump is large and describes a fairly complete state of the process, so it would be a good idea to compress it before transfer. (I don’t know of any option to generate summary dumps that ships with the OS. However, to be honest, unless space is of an extreme concern, I don’t know why anyone would want to write a summary dump if they are manually gathering a dump – full state information is definitely worth a few minutes wait of transfer time on a typical cable/DSL connection.)
While I’d still prefer having a full debugger shipped with the OS (still powerful, even without symbol support), the new Task Manager support is definitely better than nothing. Though, I still object to the line of thought that it’s better to remove developer tools from the default install because people might accidentally run an older version that shipped with the OS instead of the newer version they installed. Honestly, if a person is enough of a developer to understand how to work ntsd, they had better damn well be able to know which version they are starting (which is really not that much of a feat, considering that the start up banner for ntsd prints out the version number on the first line). If someone is really having that much trouble with launching the wrong version of the debugger, in my expert opinion that is going to be the least of their problems in effectively debugging a problem.
(</silly_rant> – still slightly annoyed at losing out on the debuggers on the default Vista install [yep, I used them!])