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Microsoft Investigating "Screen of Death"

 12:58 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Microsoft Investigating "Screen of Death" [news.bbc.co.uk]
Microsoft has confirmed that it is investigating a problem described as the "black screen of death", which affects its latest operating system.

The error means that users of Windows 7 see a totally black screen after logging on to the system.

The firm said it was looking into reports that suggest its latest security update, released on Tuesday 25 November, cause the problem.

Reports suggest the problem also affects Vista, XP and other systems.



 8:06 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes, I read this on BBC site just now, and came here to WebmasterWorld to see what I could find.

I am getting this problem with XP following an update I Incorporated yesterday.

It has happened twice now, that is getting a black screen after the system is recovering from standby.

Its weird and takes about 30 seconds for the black screen to disappear.


 10:31 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am glad you report that the effect is temporary, and you can get back into the machine and carry on working after a short delay.


 11:06 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

It has happened twice now, that is getting a black screen after the system is recovering from standby.

Its weird and takes about 30 seconds for the black screen to disappear.

Mine never recovered, it required a restart. Only happened once, so far. (I'm using XP)


 1:11 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Malware suspected of 'Black Screen' issue



 5:50 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

The company that first reported the "Black Screen of Death", Prevx, also has a workaround posted on their site [prevx.com].


 11:17 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'll be very interested to see how this develops. Reading between the lines, this sounds very much like a symptom of a bigger problem....

From the Prevx article
By the way - the cause of this recent crop of Black Screen appears to be a change in the Windows Operating Systems lock down of registry keys. This change has the effect of invalidating several key registry entries if they are updated without consideration of the new ACL rules being applied.

From Microsoft [msnbc.msn.com]
"That investigation has shown that none of these updates make any changes to the permissions in the registry. Thus, we donít believe the updates are related to the 'black screen' behavior described in these reports."

That suggests to me that legal changes to the registry are failing, and possibly, that failure is not reported as such (or the failure is being ignored - perhaps by the malware removal tool). If such a problem does exist, its root cause could be deeply buried and could cause many problems!



 2:30 pm on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

New update, reported at The Register, indicates the finger pointing at Microsoft was premature. Turns out to be malware...



 2:50 am on Dec 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

A very interesting post at the Internet Storm Center:

Microsoft Black Screen of Death - Fact of Fiction? [isc.sans.org]

So to recap - the "Black Screen of Death" is in fact a real thing, but it's not a recent thing, and you won't be seeing it as a result of applying any of the Microsoft patches to date. It's still recommended to keep your Windows systems (and any other systems for that matter) as up to date as possible with vendor updates.

That's the last bit, but I'd recommend you read the entire post. It debunks the Prevx action quite soundly.


 11:34 am on Dec 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Of course, you could argue that Microsoft is at fault here...

If any critical registry value cannot be read or appears to be invalid, a default should be provided. By the sound of it, Windows is failing to do this, and as a result, Explorer is not being launched. You would think that there would be some code somewhere that ensured a user interface (usually Explorer) was launched!


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