Windows 10 'blue screen of death' could actually become useful

The company may be adding a QR code to the infamous page that appears when a PC freezes up. The idea? Point your phone at the code and get some answers.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Could the dreaded "blue screen of death" become, well, a little less dreaded?

Mauritz Antin/EPA/Corbis

Windows 10 users who dread the "blue screen of death" could one day find it helpful, if news of an upcoming feature turns out to be correct.

An unloved staple in Windows for years, the blue screen of death can pop up whenever some type of hardware or software problem, such as a memory conflict or a bad driver, causes your PC to crash. In the past, BSODs said either very little or too much, most of which was indecipherable to the average person. But that could be changing with the next major update to Windows 10.

Due for official release this summer, the free Anniversary Edition of Windows 10 will add a QR code to the BSOD screen, according to a Reddit user who posted a shot of the screen. You'd be able to scan that code using your phone and be directed to a Web page that could shed light on the cause of the crash. You could also relay the information to a Microsoft support rep, who might then be better equipped to determine the source of the bug and even help you troubleshoot or fix it.

After the lackluster response to Windows 8, Microsoft is eager to show that its successor, Windows 10, is an appealing and easy to use operating system. Bugs are a fact of life. But the new BSOD could turn what has always been an annoying and perplexing screen into something that could be helpful in the event of a problem.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Edition is currently available in preview mode for users of the Windows Insider Program. Through the Insider Program, freely available for any Windows user, you can receive advanced previews of upcoming editions of Windows 10 and offer Microsoft your questions, comments or criticisms.

For now, the QR code brings you to a generic page that explains how to troubleshoot blue screen errors. If the feature is finalized, though, the code presumably would take you to a page dedicated to whatever specific problem crashed your PC.

When asked about the new BSOD, a Microsoft spokeswoman sent CNET the following statement:

"We are constantly experimenting with existing and new features in the Windows 10 Insider Preview in an effort to improve the user experience with Windows 10. We encourage Windows Insiders to share their feedback in the Feedback Hub app."