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Black Screen Of Death Hits 50,000 PCs

Thousands of Microsoft Windows users download tool in hopes of fixing critical bug.
A security firm that's developed a fix for the so-called "black screen of death" affecting Windows PCs said more than 50,000 users have downloaded the utility in just five days—an indication that the problem is widespread.




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"Following the issue of our fix, which continues to receive significant downloads, we believe that this problem is still affecting a very large number of users in a very diverse range of Windows environments," said Prevx CEO and chief technology officer Mel Morris, in a blog post Wednesday.

"There have been more than 50,000 downloads of the free fix tool since we made it available 5 days ago," said Morris.

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 hubbub earlier this week when it posted a blog indicating that 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).