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Microsoft offers prank Blue Screen Of Death

A spoof screensaver of the IT nightmare is now available from Microsoft. Antivirus vendors are not amused.

A prank application that mimics the notorious Blue Screen Of Death is now available from Microsoft's own Web site.

At the start of this month, the software giant updated its TechNet Web pages with the tools it acquired through its purchase of Sysinternals in July. Sysinternals provides professional system utilities for Windows system management and troubleshooting, and has also offered a spoof Blue Screen of Death for some time.

But antivirus vendors are not impressed with the spoof screensaver software, which is named BlueScreen v3.2.

, is actively preventing users from downloading the software. The company's security research team told ZDNet UK this week: "This is not a false positive. We are intentionally detecting this as Joke.Bluescreen.c, as it's meant to scare people."

Microsoft declined to say why it had chosen to keep offering BlueScreen, but a company representative said: "It's intended to be lighthearted."

BlueScreen v3.2 simulates the dreaded Blue Screen of Death, an unexpected freezing of Windows caused by software error that has plagued IT administrators and users for many years--and that has provoked no end of criticism of Redmond's software-coding skills. The BlueScreen application cycles between different Blue Screens Of Death, providing a simulated boot every 15 seconds, based on the actual configuration of the PC on which it is deployed.

"One of the most feared colors in the NT world is blue," according to a page dedicated to the screensaver on Microsoft's site. "BlueScreen is a screen saver that not only authentically mimics a BSOD, but will simulate startup screens seen during a system boot. Its accuracy will fool even advanced NT developers. Use BlueScreen to amaze your friends and scare your enemies!"

Richard Thurston of ZDNet UK reported from London.