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Windows 'Black Screen' Problem Still a Mystery

U.K.-based security firm Prevx has apologized after initially suggesting that changes in Microsoft's November security patch might be causing "black screens" in Windows-based machines.

Late last week, Prevx said in a blog post that the cause of the black screens might due to how new rules for the ACL (access control list) were being applied to Windows registry keys during updates. The company said that the black screens affected the following operating systems: Windows 7, Vista, XP, NT, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008.

On Tuesday, Prevx issued a mea culpa to Microsoft, emphasizing that there could be multiple causes for the black screens.

Prevx hasn't specified how many users may be affected by the problem, but it does offer a free tool to fix the black screen problem. The company indicated on Wednesday that "there have been more than 50,000 downloads of the free fix tool since we made it available 5 days ago."

Apparently, the cause of the black screens still remains a mystery. Microsoft does not see it as a pervasive issue.

Christopher Budd, Microsoft's security spokesman, said in an e-mail that the company has "investigated reports that its November security updates made changes to permissions in the registry that are resulting in system issues for some customers." He added that Microsoft's Customer Service and Support organization is "not seeing 'black screen' behavior as a broad customer issue."

Budd ruled out the registry key association with the problem in a blog post on Tuesday. While Microsoft doesn't know the cause of the problem, Budd stated that "'black screen' behavior is associated with some malware families such as Daonol."

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Dec 10, 2009 A_Computer_User New York

I am a Windows user and tried Linux. Yuck! I went rite back to windows. Now I've upgraded my 6 month old Lenovo notebook ($480) from Vista to Windows7 for FREE. It's awesome! No problems at all with the updates. Uses less power too. Thank you microsoft!

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 Conic123

I am a Linux user. I also use Windows. I have had great success with Windows 7 and enjoy using it for all of my Windows needs. I have not experienced this 'black screen' problem. I have experienced some problems with some external ExpressCard54 cards on one of my laptops, but other than that everything has been fast and great. I had upgraded from Vista and I'm really glad I did. (There's still a lot I love about Linux and I prefer Linux, but Windows 7 does what I need it to do and I'll continue to use it.)

Fri, Dec 4, 2009 burningh20

I am a Linux user and finally dared to try windows again, haven't had win7 running more than a month and now can't boot the #$%%%^ thing. I lost all confidence in patching and MS. Best fix for win7 is fdisk!

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