"It’s Impossible To Know Conclusively What Might Be Causing A Black Screen"

A choice cut from Microsoft's official response to the reported Black Screen of Death fiasco. Apparently, there are two possibilities here: a faulty security update is crippling PCs without warning; or, um, mass hysteria?

Funny thing is, it's not really clear what exactly is happening here. PC World reports with confidence that the issue is related to changes that a November 10th security update makes to the Windows Access Control List. And security firm Prevx even has a fix!

Thing is, Microsoft's update apparently doesn't touch Windows' aforementioned sensitive bits:

While these reports weren't brought to us directly, from our research into them, it appears they're saying that our security updates are making permission changes in the registry to the value for the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogonShell key.

We've conducted a comprehensive review of the November Security Updates, the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, and the non-security updates we released through Windows Update in November. That investigation has shown that none of these updates make any changes to the permissions in the registry. Thus, we don't believe the updates are related to the "black screen" behaviour described in these reports.

They point to malware as a possible culprit, which would be fascinating: That would mean that an unluckily timed Windows Update was lumped in with a malware attack by merely happening in the same timeframe. Either way, the "Black Screen of Death" is too catchy to let die, no matter who ends up owning up to it. [Microsoft Technet]

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