The first thing that I would do is look over this ARTICLE. It starts with a checklist of things to get PrE running smoothly, and then goes into a series of links on things like Memory/Resources, OS and hardware tuneups, then troubleshooting, with an increasing "degree of difficulty," as one works up.
Two things that I would look into would be the number/date on both the video and audio drivers, and update, if they are not the very latest. Next, I would check the defragmented free-space on your HDD. Looking at the specs. it appears that you have a single RAID 5 array. Is that correct? I did not see how much free-space you have on it.
Something must have changed. Perhaps you installed a new piece of hardware, or updated a driver. If you have a System Restore point from when you last new PRE to be working try restoring back to it.
Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children
Resetting the licence...
Thanks Steve... Downloaded it, started it, but the warning message clearly said that it was for Acrobat 8&9 + CS3&4 only. While I'd take a chance with PrE, I'd rather cut my own feet off than risk messing up my CS5 setup - that would be a world of pain that far exceeds the value of a video editor that I only use occasionally - are you sure it's safe with PrE 9 on a setup that has CS5 on it?
Been through your article - I have latest drivers for video and sound
Codec's from GSpot - looks fairly clean
The disk space issue is a possibility - my C drive is a 60gb SSD, I designed this PC specifically for getting performance out of CS5 - the C drive contains Windows and some programs - CS5, PrE, Office and a couple of other bits. Everything else works from D: which is a 2tb RAID. The user profile is set up on the RAID using an alias from C:\users. Has been working perfectly. But there is just 11gb left on the SSD. If PrE is behaving politely this will not make any difference bit if it plays dirty and writes massive amounts of data to c:\windows or program files - then it has to go to ebay and I'll look at other options. Do you know if PrE is hard-coded to write temp files outside of the user profile?
I know Adobe are infamous for ignoring their customers (if they didn't produce such powerful and useful software, I'd have nothing to do with them) - but they're still going to get some feedback over this - issues are part of the business but that error message is unforgivable in this day and age - it's possibly the least helpful I've seen since the days af GPFs and UAEs in Windows (whinge mode off...).
You also mention Quicktime... That's odd. I don't much like Quicktime, I try to avoid it wherever possible - I've never installed it and can't see any trace of it being installed by stealth. Doesn't seem to have stopped PrE from working in the past?
Thanks everyone for your suggestions I've tried most of them, but I think I'll cut my losses and get a different NLE.
I'll sum up the experience here, not so much for the forum regulars but for those who have come here via a web search having also entered the dead-end street of "Sorry, a serious error has occurred...", or, as I'm coming to know it, the Adobe Grey Screen of Death (or GSOD as it's easily as annoying and difficult to do anything about as the dreaded Windows BSOD).
So, if I understand it correctly, this error is thown up when some unspecified circumstance occurs that Premiere can't cope with.
No clue is provided to the user of what may have caused it
No log files are created
No entry is made to to the Windows application log
There is no debug mode
There are at least 20 recorded possible causes for the error
Adobe takes no resonsibility for the issue - it's a problem on the user's machine
Diagnosing the problem, working through all of the documented causes may require a massive commitment in terms of time and effort with no guarantee of success and, looking at some of the many posts on the subject, be detrimental to other applications or the system as a whole.
Premiere is a powerful and relatively easy to use tool, when it was working I thoroughly enjoyed using it. However, when it goes wrong (and reading posts here and elsewhere, it seems to go wrong quite a lot) it crosses the border into crapware - software that is poorly engineered and does not adhere to best practice with regard to error handling. As with any service - the quality of the product is often best measured by what happens when something goes wrong, rather than by how it behaves when everything works.
A sincere thanks to those in this little community that tried to help, but life is too short and my time is too valuable to spend more than a couple of days on this.
I'd advise anyone finding this post when researching for a purchase to look at Premiere as a question of risk management - if it works and continues to work then it's brilliant and offers great value for money. If it breaks then there is a very good chance that you're thoroughly stuffed...
I'm off now to decide between Corel and Sony for my next go at video editing