Patch Tuesday: No Black Screen Fix

Thousands of Windows users have downloaded a tool in hopes of fixing a critical bug, but Microsoft has yet to solve issue.
Microsoft said it would release a patch next week that will address an Explorer 8 zero-day vulnerability and several other security threats. The software maker, however, disclosed no plans to fix a bug that may have crippled as many as 50,000 Windows PCs.

Windows 7 screen shot
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A security firm that developed a fix for the so-called "black screen of death" affecting Windows PCs said at least 50,000 users have downloaded the utility in just five days and said the problem is widespread. "There have been more than 50,000 downloads of the free fix tool since we made it available 5 days ago," said Prevx CEO Mel Morris, in a blog post.

The black screen of death, or KSOD, occurs when users attempt to boot their PCs. In cases where the bug occurs, the user is faced with a black or blank screen and is forced to reboot. It has reportedly hit PCs running Windows 7, Vista, and Windows XP.

Prevx caused a stir earlier this week when it posted a blog indicating the problem was caused by a recently issued Microsoft security patch. But the company later backtracked, stating the cause is still unknown and may be the result of malware or some other security breach.

"The emergence of this issue coincided with the recent set of Windows updates, therefore our investigations were focused on identifying if any of these could have been the cause of the problem," said Morris, in Wednesday's post.

"Regrettably, it is clear that our original blog post has been taken out of context and may have caused inconvenience for Microsoft. This was never our intention and we have already apologized to Microsoft," Morris wrote.

For its part, Microsoft insists it's not behind the KSOD glitch, but to date has not offered an explanation or a fix of its own.

"Microsoft has investigated reports that its November security updates made changes to permissions in the registry that are resulting in system issues for some customers," said a Microsoft spokesman. Microsoft's Customer Service and Support organization is "not seeing 'black screen' behavior as a broad customer issue," the spokesman said.

InformationWeek has published an indepth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).