Microsoft investigating 'black screen of death'

The software maker is looking into reports that some users' systems aren't working right after installing the latest Windows security updates.

Microsoft said on Monday that it is looking into reports that its latest security updates are causing some serious problems for certain users.

The problem has been dubbed the "black screen of death" because those affected are left with a black desktop and little else on their screen.

"Microsoft is investigating reports that its latest release of security updates is resulting in system issues for some customers," the software maker said in a statement. "Once we complete our investigation, we will provide detailed guidance on how to prevent or address these issues. "

The issue was noted by British security firm Prevx on its blog on Friday, with that company also offering a suggested fix for the problem.

"The symptoms are very distinctive and troublesome," Prevx said. "After logging on there is no desktop, task bar, system tray or sidebar. Instead you are left with a totally black screen and a single My Computer Explorer window."

Prevx suggested that the black screen issue can occur on a wide range of Windows machines from Windows NT through Windows 7. In its blog, Prevx said there appear to be many causes of the black-screen issue, not all of which are related to the security update.

"In researching this issue we have identified at least 10 different scenarios which will trigger the same black screen conditions," Prevx said. "These appear to have been around for years now." As for the latest security update, Prevx said changes to the way registry keys are handled appears to be the reason it is causing black screens.

I've asked Microsoft what it recommends users should do for now and will post its answer here.

Microsoft released its latest security updates on November 10, issuing six bulletins addressing 15 flaws.

Update, 3:35 p.m. PT: A Microsoft representative said that the company continues to recommend that customers "test and deploy" the November security updates.

"Based on our investigation so far we can say that we're not seeing this as an issue from our support organization," the representative said. "The issues as described also do not match any known issues that have been documented in the security bulletins or (knowledge base) articles."

 

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