Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Bug Windows Upgrades IT

Microsoft Investigates Windows 7 "Black Screen of Death" 351

Posted by timothy
from the appropriate-namespace-overload dept.
duguk writes "Microsoft has confirmed that it is investigating a problem described as the 'black screen of death,' which affects Windows 7 — and reports suggest it affects Vista and XP, too. The firm said it was looking into reports that suggest its latest security update, released on Tuesday 25 November, caused the problem. The error means that users of Windows 7 and earlier operating systems see a totally black screen after logging on to the system." Update: 12/01 22:35 GMT by KD : Microsoft now says that its November Windows updates are not causing the BlackSOD: "The company has found those reports to be inaccurate and our comprehensive investigation has shown that none of the recently released updates are related to the behavior described in the reports."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Investigates Windows 7 "Black Screen of Death"

Comments Filter:
  • by bravo_2_0 (892901) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:40PM (#30285444)
    Turns out it was just affecting a bunch of old people who kept forgetting to turn their monitors on.
    • by Cassini2 (956052) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:07PM (#30285908)

      Turns out it was just affecting a bunch of old people who kept forgetting to turn their monitors on.

      I just put a painting in front of the monitor, and then take it away before my kids come over. They think it is so cool I'm into computers.

    • by Taibhsear (1286214) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @03:03PM (#30286900)

      Had a secretary at my first job with a similar problem. Reasons for "The computer is broken!":
      1.) forgot to turn monitor on.
      2.) didn't press power button on desktop
      3.) kicked monitor plug near the power strip pulling it out of back of monitor.
      4.) stepping on power strip rocker switch.
      5.) somehow put the entire OS in dutch.

  • BSOD (Score:4, Funny)

    by klwood911 (731463) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:40PM (#30285454)
    I guess they don't have to change the acronym then. Saves on Apple and Microsoft's marketing budgets next year! First Post!
    • Re:BSOD (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:00PM (#30285790)
      it's not a bug it's a feature!

      Microsoft heard all the buzz about 'skinning' apps and figured they'd one up them and skin an integral part of windoze ;-)
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      So Windows 8 will have the Beige Screen of Death, Windows 9 the Brown one, and Windows 10... well, Microsoft will change naming standards again, so from there on Windows will have codenames like Bronze, Brass, Burgundy and Bizantine (and more from this list [wikipedia.org])
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So Windows 8 will have the Beige Screen of Death, Windows 9 the Brown one, and Windows 10...

        It won't be Windows 10 though. Because Microsoft expects to crush all competition by that time, 'Windows' will become simply 'OS'. And because the number 10 isn't marketable enough, it will be replaced with a Roman numeral.

    • by CdBee (742846) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:14PM (#30286006)
      I removed an expired copy of Kaspersky AV from a Vista laptop yesterday, did a wndows-update and installed free AVG. On rebooting it black-screened.

      in that instance another forced reboot brought the system back as normal - I have no explanation
      • A little off-topic, but I've been recommending people stay away from AVG free and check out Microsoft Security Essentials.

        Yes, I know I'm recommending a Micrsoft product. But it has a much lower footprint, and better detection.

        • by TheThiefMaster (992038) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @04:24PM (#30288222)

          Or at the very least, just don't use AVG Free.

          Last I tried it (don't know if it's improved) it would tell you about an infection in a file, but wouldn't offer any way to clean the file. To clean infections you had to manually run a full scan. IIRC, this was AVG 7, though it sounds like the behaviour of a v0.7 virus scanner to me.

          When I found out that Avast Home (aka free) would not only allow me to clean infected files when they were found, but would go as far as scanning incoming HTTP replies and cutting connections if it saw an incoming infection attempt, before the data got to the browser, I switched and haven't looked back.

  • by Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:41PM (#30285460)
    Securing windows is like pushing water uphill with a sharp stick.

    Firewall the bugger & leave it be. Works for me :-) No updates since 2003, system just stays up.
    • by Saint Stephen (19450) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:43PM (#30285504) Homepage Journal

      What the hell do you do with an unpatched box from 2003?

      Play Solitaire?

      • by Shagg (99693) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:50PM (#30285618)

        He might not do much with it, but the botnet it's on has plenty of uses.

      • Play Solitaire?

        It also shipped with Calculator and Pinball. Loads of fun right there.

      • Install Office 97 and load up the flight sim?
        Disconnect all the fans and use it as a space heater on cold nights?

        By now, though, I suspect this is the only possible outcome:
        http://xkcd.com/350/ [xkcd.com]

    • by eln (21727) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:54PM (#30285666) Homepage
      Of course your machine stays up, you have the administrators of at least 3 different botnets making sure of it!
    • by ClayJar (126217) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:00PM (#30285792) Homepage

      Securing windows is like pushing water uphill with a sharp stick.

      So, if I follow what you're saying, securing windows is much easier when it freezes?

      • No, no, you're looking at it all wrong. What he really means is that securing windows is much easier when you use a blunt stick. Like, say, a sledgehammer.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Bourdain (683477)
      Mod parent up
      -----

      I only use minimal manual antivirus (mostly just with www.virustotal.com on occasional suspect files) and work behind a firewall

      I've installed the service packs after they've been out for a while, but that's really it

      the most dangerous activity -- web browsing -- is made nearly perfectly safe by using firefox + noscript
      • Unless noscript has an exploit, or you run into an infected PDF, or one of those malicious jpegs that can infect you from several years ago...
    • by u38cg (607297)
      Freeze it into a circle with a hole in the middle and use the stick as an axle. Kids these days...
    • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:18PM (#30286074)

      Let me just start by saying... You are soooo cool. You're running an Operating System from 2003. I hope you're not in IT. I can imagine you telling your management, "we're running Solaris 8/9 and have never applied any patches." I also hope you're not a developer that has made updates/fixes to your products so you can say to your customers, "How come you've never applied any of my updates? I've slaved over this code for the past seven years!"

      And since this is /., where everyone brags about their personal machine in their basement, I hope you've never run apt-get update and still run firefox 1.x/2.x (or whatever version was around in 2003).

      Or do you think that all fixes in linux/firefox are better than even service packs in winXP...

      I also hope you've never fixed your car or a leaky faucet..

      Because that would make you a hypocrite.

  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:41PM (#30285470)

    i was getting tired of the blue screen

    • by stagg (1606187) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:43PM (#30285514)
      I believe the change was implemented in order to prevent phosphor burn-in on older CRT monitors.
      • by srussia (884021) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:09PM (#30285948)

        I believe the change was implemented in order to prevent phosphor burn-in on older CRT monitors.

        Actually, blue was chosen deliberately because zinc sulfide silver (blue phosphor in CRTs) is more resistant to burnout than the other phosphors, thus ensuring more even color rendition over time. It was a feature, not a bug :-). With no burnout problems in LCD panels, they went with black.

    • by Blue Stone (582566) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:45PM (#30285544) Homepage Journal

      Microsoft felt guilty about not allowing you to change the desktop picture in Windows Starter Edition, so they realeased this variation of the BSoD to everyone, to make up for it.

      See: they're not totally evil*.

      *may be totally evil

    • by ciaohound (118419)

      Black is the new blue?

    • by melikamp (631205) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:52PM (#30285652) Homepage Journal
      Screenshot here. [macosxtips.co.uk]
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wait, you got that mixed up with a screenshot from Doom 3.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:42PM (#30285476) Homepage Journal

    "You can have any screen of death color you want, as long as it's black"

    • by Shrike82 (1471633)
      Interestingly that phrase (about the Model T Ford) was never accurate. They didn't make black ones at all, except for a specific factory, many years after the Model T came out. And I actually remember messing with some settings to change the colour of the Blue Screen of Death and making it red. That looked much more dramatic.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by FrankSchwab (675585)
        Interesting that Shrike82 is never accurate, at least according to wikipedia: from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Model_T [wikipedia.org] "Colors By 1918, half of all cars in America were Model Ts. However, it was a monolithic bloc; as Ford wrote in his autobiography, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black".[17] Model Ts in different colors were produced from 1908 to 1914, and then again from 1926 to 1927."
      • I too had Red Screens of death on my 2k and, XP boxes while attending Georgia Tech.
  • by WiiVault (1039946)
    Did anybody think to check the power cord?
  • It's nice to see they decided to forgo the cryptic error messages and offer the goth crowd a nice abyss to stare into.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by D Ninja (825055)

      Don't stare too long into the abyss. If you do, Steve Ballmer's head appears and starts chanting, "Developers! Developers! Developers!" and occasionally cackling maniacally.

    • by Verteiron (224042)

      If you gaze into Windows long enough, Windows gazes also into you...

      *slain by zombie Nietzsche*

    • It's nice to see they decided to forgo the cryptic error messages and offer the goth crowd a nice abyss to stare into.

      The message is there. However, the preceding line is: COLOR 00

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:44PM (#30285528)

    Had this the other day (Win7 Ultmate, Q6600 8GB RAM) it sat for a couple of minutes (there was some disk activity). Afterwards everything was fine; I chalked it up to an update and looks as though I was right.

  • Finally... (Score:5, Funny)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:46PM (#30285550) Journal

    The headline should read "Microsoft finds way to make an Operating System 100% secure".

    Once the Black (screen of) Death Security Pack is installed, the computer locks up after login, meaning the user will not be able to surf to dangerous pages, will not be the victim of even the most clever social engineering hacks, and best of all won't see any spam any more, ever.

    Users protected by the BsoDSP can feel free to emerge from their basements and experience RealWorld 1.0. It's like a MMORPG, but with real sex.

    • by neoform (551705)
      Of course, this protection only applies if the computer isn't connected to the internet..
      • by natehoy (1608657)

        Well, true, but I assume the BsoDSP is like the BSOD - the network card isn't operating any more, and therefore by definition the computer is not connected to the Internet.

        However, if this leaves the machine running in the background AFTER login, then reverse that, "Microsoft finds a way to make an Operating System ONLY accessible to hackers!"

        If that's the case, we can pretty much call this Windows 7 Service pack ME.

    • Sadly, reports of real sex have been greatly exaggerated.

  • After hundreds of hours of diagnostics I realized that my eyes were closed.
  • by ericthughes (1015253) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:49PM (#30285598)

    The issue is not limited to Win7 but effects most versions of windows. A ACL bug causes the black screen http://www.prevx.com/blog/140/Black-Screen-woes-could-affect-millions-on-Windows--Vista-and-XP.html [prevx.com]

    • by PincushionMan (1312913) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:07PM (#30285912)
      From link above: 1) Restart your PC
      2) Logon and wait for the black screen to appear
      3) Make sure your PC should be able to connect to the internet (black screen does not appear to affect this)
      4) Press the CTRL, ALT and DEL keys simultaneously
      5) When prompted, Click Start Task Manager
      6) In Task Manager Click on the Application Tab
      7) Next Click New Task
      8) Now enter the command:
      "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" "http://info.prevx.com/download.asp?GRAB=BLACKSCREENFIX"

      And this my friends, is exactly why Windows is not ready for the desktop in 2009. I mean, you have to type in random junk into the command line to fix a buggy Microsoft patch - Can we expect grandma to be able to do this? More must be done to make Windows user friendly to all!

      ... err, wait, this is Windows? Oops! Nevermind.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:37PM (#30286426)

        that's actually the really dumb way of doing it. Turns out, you can just run explorer, and continue as if you had booted normally.

        So:
        1) Boot
        2) Login
        3) Get Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del)
        4) File -> New Task (Run...)
        5) Type "explorer" (no quotes) - Windows should now be running normally
        6) Click on ericthughes's link above
        7) Download and run the file they have linked there

        It's even simpler if you just understand that the screen is blank because explorer (desktop process, should always be running) didn't start.

        Or at least, that's how I've experienced the problem. It's not so much a BSoD as a "this process forgot to start."

        Honestly, the only part that scares me is that I have to run their exe. I can function without this fix, and will wait for the official fix next week.

  • by nxtw (866177) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:50PM (#30285604)

    On my MSI Wind netbook running Windows 7, I once woke the system from sleep and got a black screen. The machine was still working, the mouse cursor was on screen and moved with the touchpad, there was disk activity, it connected to the wireless network, caps lock/num lock were still responsive, but nothing else appeared on the screen and nothing I did made it work. I had to manually power the system off. I was able to wake the system from sleep many times before and after without any problems.

    I didn't notice any updates that the problem could have been correlated with.

  • I guess a bunch of people were sitting around at Microsoft after watching Spinal Tap and decided to do a tribute patch.

  • by gazuga (128955) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:50PM (#30285620) Homepage

    I had this happen a year or so ago on a Server 2003 box and never could find the actual cause. I don't know if the fix is the same in this case, but in my case it was simple:

    Check out [HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Colors] - if everything is set to [0 0 0], modify those values to something other than black. The easiest thing to do, actually, is to export that key from another box that's good, then import on the box that's got the problem.

  • Anyone know if some descendant of WGA is part of Win 7? The description of the problem in TFA (and also the corresponding Inq article [theinquirer.net] reminds me of a botched WGA "software self-help" thing.

    Of course, it could just be a garden-variety bug in something besides WGA.

  • by svendsen (1029716) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:52PM (#30285634)
    11/24 my windows machine is working perfectly,. Been up for over a month and fully activated (I bought the $30 Win 7 prof. EDU discount). Turn off my computer the same night (vacation).

    11/28 come back from vacation turn my computer on and it updates itself with the 11/25 patches. As soon as they are installed all of a sudden my copy is no longer genuine and I get all the warnings.

    Spend 2 hours with Microsoft last night. product key is valid. They tell me that windows updater is corrupted and I need to reinstall the entire OS. I was told it is an "issue" when doing a custom upgrade from Vista.

    Now this article is out I am wondering if their patches tried to tighten some DRM and broke a lot more then being reported.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jackchance (947926)

      11/24 my windows machine is working perfectly,....11/28 come back from vacation turn my computer on and it updates itself with the 11/25 patches. As soon as they are installed all of a sudden my copy is no longer genuine and I get all the warnings....Spend 2 hours with Microsoft last night. product key is valid. They tell me that windows updater is corrupted and I need to reinstall the entire OS. I was told it is an "issue" when doing a custom upgrade from Vista.

      Best argument for mac, linux, freebsd (insert your favorite non-DRMed OS here) ever.

      It angers me to NO END that tech supports answer to all computer problems is "re-format and re-install". It is somewhat understandable since it can be very hard to figure out what kind of mess a machine is in on the end of a phone... but all consumer OSes should be able to boot into a live CD version of the OS that gives tech support access to the machine so they can diagnose the actual problem.

      • by alen (225700)

        i visit the Mac forums because i have an iphone and a Mac Mini as well as a bunch of PC's. Apple is just as bad. some of the oldtime Mac users will even tell you never to buy Apple hardware when it's first released and buy a silent revision that comes out a few months later. and they say that most products have problems. the big thing now is DOA quad core iMac's due to crappy packaging

        • Apple is just as bad.

          Yes, Apple customer care will also recommend reformat and reinstall all too often. Although, if you take the time an effort and drag your machine into the genius bar, they will often do better.

          some of the oldtime Mac users will even tell you never to buy Apple hardware when it's first released

          Umm... not some. ALL mac users worth their salt know that you never buy the first version of a new design.

      • Ummm... what? Mac OSX is just as locked down as Windows. As for Linux/BSD tech support... I am pretty sure that if there were tech support for Ubuntu, you would hear the same sorts of things.
        • Ummm... what? Mac OSX is just as locked down as Windows.

          Mac OSX is proprietary, but it isn't DRMed. There is no license-key to enter when installing the OS, and it never "phones home" to check if it is a valid copy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jittles (1613415)
      It also invalidated my install of Office 2007. Reinstalling the OS, patching and then reinstalling Office 2007 worked but what a pain.
    • by Zumbs (1241138) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:52PM (#30286682) Homepage
      Excuse me, but ... I thought that pretty much everyone with some technical experience knows that you never, ever use the upgrade option with Windows. Always use the clean install if possible.
  • The error means that users of Windows 7 and earlier operating systems...

    Whew! I'm so relieved I'm running Windows 8 on my main pc. My server running Windows 3.11 is probably in trouble though, I'll have to see...

  • by cokegen (925518) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:56PM (#30285700)
    It's something video related, I've seen this bug in the two machines (Win7, can't speak for Vista) I own and for some reason the monitor get "reset" to 59 Hz instead of 60 Hz and I get the black screen. The funny thing is that is the LCD lamp is not turned on but the screen does, so if you put some light in front of the screen you'll still be able to see something in the screen. This one and a USB bug that prevents the mouse getting detected was sufficient to go back to XP. I can't believe how these bugs pass QC. And sorry for my possibly bad english. Carlos
  • Well if you experience this issue from an update, would "Last known good configuration" not resolve this?
    • by jpmorgan (517966)

      "Last known good configuration" only rolls back HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet. I imagine if it's truly been borked by an update you'd need to go into the recovery console and roll-back the system to an earlier restore point.

  • by Sandbags (964742) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:17PM (#30286054) Journal

    first was while playing a game online, and I though it was the game that crashed. Black screen, nothing worked, but the background music from the game kept playing. I waited longer than 5 minutes to see if the game would exit. When it did not I got suspicios since protected memory in 7 should not have allowed the gamr to crash the kernel. NOTHIGN was in the error logs related to it (other than the obligitory "you did not shut down properly" errors after I hit the reset button on the tower.

    Next day, I had just turned it on about 20 minutes earlier, and the only thing running was Opera. Same deal, complete lock up.

    7 has been running great on this machine since the day it hit my MAPS dowload queue and I installed it. Not one crash prior except an issue installing HP's printer system first time around (second try, it worked flawlessly).

  • I mentioned that Vista has a vastly improved version of Blue Screen of Death. Back then. http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=219390&cid=17803986 [slashdot.org]

    But in an effort to push Windows7 footprint small enough to be used in netbooks, thus eventually killing WinXP, they have sacrificed this improved version, going back even farther than XP's blue screen of death to black screen. It is truly sad, Microsoft is not even able to improve the Screen of Death experience.

  • by tohands (1643157)
    I can't wait to get the red screen of life !
  •   'Ah ha!' said the blind man, as he fell into the hole.

  • I had the "Black Screen of Death" happen in the past week on two full-patched (and legal) Windows Vista 32-bit machines after recent patches. Both times the display wouldn't come back up. The system did not display anything when access via Microsoft Remote Desktop, VNC, and Dameware Utilites Mini Remote Control--these are all various ways to access a machine remotely. However, the systems was still allowing access to file and printer shares and I could perform remote administration via various utilities and

  • by war4peace (1628283) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @09:21PM (#30292070)
    It's no bug, it's a feature. Windows saves power by reducing the monitor contrast and brightness to 0. Furthermore, it turns off the Video Card and unplugs the monitor from the power socket. Then blinds you.
    ...I just had a chat with Steve, he said "you're lucky we didn't implement the population control routine; we couldn't figure out whether we should use inherent OS radiation or the hammer summoning algorythm on your testicles".
  • by Helldesk Hound (981604) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @01:15AM (#30293788) Homepage

    > Microsoft now says that its November Windows updates are not causing
    > the BlackSOD: "The company has found those reports to be inaccurate
    > and our comprehensive investigation has shown that none of the recently
    > released updates are related to the behavior described in the reports."

    "We know those reports are inaccurate because we already knew about this before releasing the November updates and so it couldn't possibly be related to the November updates. It is an issue that we are having considerable difficulties fixing hence not being fixed in the November updates and hoped that nobody would have commented about it so soon."

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

Working...