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Windows patch triggers "black screen of death"

updated 04:40 pm EST, Mon November 30, 2009

Windows fix conflicts with security apps

A Microsoft security fix has inadvertently left some Windows PCs almost inoperable, app developer Prevx warned this weekend. Those running some security apps after applying a November 10th fix have reported the system starting up with a black screen, nicknamed the "black screen of death," that shows only a single Explorer window. It doesn't prevent complete use of the system but bars use of the Start menu and other features on Windows XP, Vista and 7 systems.

Prevx has developed a fix for affected computers and says the issue likely stems from changes to the Access Control List, which governs the exact permissions each app has on a system. Certain apps don't recognize the changes and as a result conflict with Windows.

Microsoft will be contacted with details about the issue, but as of Monday the developer hasn't provided a patch.

The flaw is a minor embarrassment for Microsoft, whose Windows 7 is just over a month old and is entering the critical holiday period. Many pre-assembled Windows PCs today often come with trial versions of security software already installed and may encounter the conflict depending on the program they use.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. dliup

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    +12

    Microsoft security

    How do you secure windows? Disable it! That's the Microsoft way.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -17

    Oh right....

    Prevx has developed a fix for affected computers and says the issue likely stems from changes to the Access Control List, which governs the exact permissions each app has on a system. Certain apps don't recognize the changes and as a result conflict with Windows.

    So the ACL was changed, and certain apps don't recognize the change? Sounds more like a problem with the apps than with Windows. Are they accessing the ACLs correctly? Are they checking for changes they shouldn't be? Oh, no, actually it occurs because programs try to change keys in the registry without checking permissions. So let's not blame the lazy programmers lacking the error handling. Let's blame windows (who might be locking down the keys for a good reason, who knows).

    And what exactly is the problem or the 'fix' they tell you to download? They don't say. They just say "Download it! It'll fix your issue!" (which it might. Or it might be a trojan backdoor to hack into your system later).

    Oh, and reading their 'blog' posting, the guy writes:

    If you Google "Black Screen" then you will find a whopping 80Million plus results, mostly dominated by people searching for a fix to this problem.

    Really. And did they go through all 80 million to see? Because I seriously doubt that most (as in 50%+) are all about black screens of death in windows.

  1. nat

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 2002

    +11

    oh testudo

    so apps are working find, ms changes the acl and suddenly they don't work. how in the hail are they going to recognize the change if MS changed them with the patch? you think they're dynamic or something? what a stupid argument.

    if the guy took a sampling and found them to be predominantly about the black screen then why should he go through all 80 million? you've heard of statistics, no?

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -14

    oh nat

    so apps are working find, ms changes the acl and suddenly they don't work. how in the hail are they going to recognize the change if MS changed them with the patch? you think they're dynamic or something? what a stupid argument.

    No, that's a stupid argument. Based on that theory, if Apple changes the permission on a directory in an update, and someone's software was writing to that directory and now can't, it is apple's fault, not the software, because Apple originally allowed you to write to that folder. No, you'd expect them to check that the directory is writable before making changes.

    The fact is you have no idea what the problem or the change was anymore than I do. But you also don't know whether the change was valid.

    For all we know, the changes were made so these changes to those registry keys could only be made by going through the system APIs, closing some security loophole. And, of course, the software vendors are going to be the ones complaining they can't do what they used to do.

    But let's not question those Windows developers, even though we all know they all take shortcuts and are crappy programmers. Let's blame MS for not supporting 100% backwards compatibilty.

    if the guy took a sampling and found them to be predominantly about the black screen then why should he go through all 80 million? you've heard of statistics, no?

    I've heard of statistics. As such, I know that looking at 20 items out of 80 million is not a statistical sample.

    Plus, have you ever used google? Try it. Go past two pages, and you'll see how the results you start getting are all over the map.

    And do you really think there's 40 million pages out there devoted to this issue? I doubt you ever even heard of it before you got here.

  1. nat

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 2002

    +8

    oh testudo

    "The fact is you have no idea what the problem or the change was anymore than I do."
    finally, some truth from you. it has taken years but you've managed it! well done.

    uh, oops...

    "even though we all know they all take shortcuts and are crappy programmers. Let's blame MS for not supporting 100% backwards compatibilty."

    So, ALL programmers for windows are crappy. And, on top of being crappy they ALL take shortcuts.
    Since the backwards compatibility issue is based on your assumption that it was closing security holes how can you possibly conclude that we're blaming MS for not supporting it as though it's a fact? It's your assumption so your conclusion is factual. Ok pumpkin.

    So, the guy looked at 20 items? 20 exactly. No more, no less. 20. Again, your assumption. Your conclusion? "As such, I know that looking at 20 items out of 80 million is not a statistical sample."
    Another fact?
    Ok pumpkin.



  1. chas_m

    Joined:

    +3

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA

    HAHAHAHAHAHA (breathes in) BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (etc)

  1. Foe Hammer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005

    +5

    MS Finally Does Colors in Windows!

    Black and Blue ... how multi-fitting.

  1. gskibum3

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2006

    -2

    Huh

    Next we'll be going to news sites about the Windows OS to read about bugs in OS X.

  1. IxOsX

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2009

    +2

    Windows

    Typical window... Tradition first! :) Every OS have flaws but none have as much as windows have. But that is just my 20 years of experience dealling with Microsoft lousy OS. I just thanks for exist alternatives like OSX, Linux and Unix!!! But Windows cheeps fan legions are huge, so does not matter wich OS is better.

  1. LouZer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2000

    -7

    And yet

    If the same thing happened on os x, you all would be railing against the developer and saying apple did nothing wrong.

    Oh, and note how they said they were going to contact ms. You'd think they would have done this first.

    And who actually has heard of thus company?

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