Users Left Holding the Bag

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-12-02 Print this article Print

"This underscores the importance of our guidance to customers to contact our Customer Service and Support group any time they think they're affected by malware or are experiencing issues with security updates," Microsoft said. "This enables us to determine what might be happening and take steps to help customers by documenting new malware families in our MMPC malware encyclopedia or documenting known issues in our security bulletins and the supporting Knowledge Base articles." Prevx apologizes
After that report was released, a stunning announcement came from Prevx: The Windows updates weren't the problem.

"Having narrowed down a specific trigger for this condition, we've done quite a bit of testing and retesting on the recent Windows patches, including KB976098 and KB915597, as referred to in our previous blog," Prevx wrote late Dec. 1. "Since more specifically narrowing down the cause we have been able to exonerate these patches from being a contributory factor." The company then apologized to Microsoft "for any inconvenience" its previous blog had caused.

What about us?

After Microsoft refused responsibility for the black screen outbreak and Prevx was done apologizing to Microsoft, the average Windows user was left wondering what to expect next. Would Microsoft release a patch to prevent the problem from ever happening again? Would Prevx find a way to make its own fix work for anyone affected by the Black Screen of Death? At this point, neither outcome seems likely.

Based on what Microsoft said, it seems that the company has no interest in pursuing the Black Screen of Death. It has simply written it off as a malware problem. Prevx has said that the root cause might be related to the way Windows stores string data in the registry. But in no way did it claim its solution can fix all problems related to the Black Screen of Death.

And so, once again, it's the users who need to worry about the impact this latest outbreak will have on their computers. It might not be as serious as the Blue Screen of Death and, if Microsoft is right, few users have been affected. But considering a security company has spent so much time investigating the problem and Microsoft has done its part to find a root cause, doesn't it make sense that the software giant would want to issue a patch so no users face that black screen?

For now, Microsoft seems unwilling to admit there is a problem. There's still no guarantee that Windows hasn't caused the issue. And all the while, Windows users are wondering what, if anything, will be done to resolve it. It's a sad situation.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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