Microsoft investigates Windows 'black screen of death'

Looking into reports that recent security updates trigger blank screens

Microsoft today confirmed that it is looking into reports that November's security updates have triggered a black screen on some Windows users' PCs.

"Microsoft is investigating reports that its latest release of security updates is resulting in system issues for some customers," said a company spokesman in an e-mail Monday. "Once we complete our investigation, we will provide detailed guidance on how to prevent or address these issues."

The reports Microsoft alluded to stemmed from U.K.-based security vendor Prevx, which claimed last Thursday that the Windows security updates issued on Nov. 10 changed Access Control List (ACL) entries in the registry, preventing some installed software from running properly. The result, said Prevx, is a black screen , sometimes dubbed "black screen of death" in a sop to the "blue screen of death" that Windows puts up after a major system crash.

Prevx added that security software seemed to be especially affected.

Although the Microsoft spokesman said the company would provide additional information once its support and security teams complete their investigations, it was unclear Monday exactly how extensive the problem was, or how many users were affected.

Searches of Microsoft's support forums today, for example, turned up only one "black screen" thread with posts after the Nov. 10 security updates had been released. Four different users on that Windows 7-specific thread said that they faced a blank screen.

On Nov. 19, a moderator of the support forum suggested a workaround that involved starting another Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) process. Prevx essentially gave the same advice a week later when it told users with blank screens how to download a free tool it said would fix the problem.

Microsoft's November collection of patches addressed 15 vulnerabilities in six security updates.

Only one of the half-dozen updates included a known issue. According to the detailed support document for MS09-065, one of the month's three critical updates, customers running Windows XP and using an ATI Radeon HD 2400-series video card "may find that the computer does not start correctly."

Microsoft's next security update release is slated for Dec. 8.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftWindows

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?