Windows 8 to have a kinder, gentler BSOD screen

The new blue screen of death? #Windows8 on Twitpic

Finally, a blue screen-of-death design for my generation! NetworkWorld reports that Microsoft has reimagined the infamous blue screen of death in Windows 8, imbuing it with a kinder, gentler quality—namely a big ASCII frown and a shorter, more concise message that would (almost) fit inside a 140-character tweet:

🙁
Your PC ran into a problem that it couldn’t handle, and now it needs to restart.

You can search for the error online: HAL_INITIALIZATION_FAILED

Patrick Kortendick of MobilityDigest and Xbox360Digest put up a picture of the new BSOD in the wild on TwitPic, and it looks like a reboot countdown clock is in the mix, too. Click the thumbnail on the right for the full-sized version.

I don’t know how that ASCII frown will go over in the button-down business world, but I, for one, hope Microsoft keeps it. System crashes are frustrating enough as it is; having your operating system barf up a screen full of ugly, cryptic text is like twisting the knife in the wound.

Comments closed
    • LoneWolf15
    • 8 years ago

    I’m not liking this potential dumbing-down of Windows.

    I just started running a VM of Windows 8 DP today, and after three minutes, I UTFG-ed to find a registry edit to turn the Metro Shell off (it can’t be toggled in the current developer preview). I’m sure it’s great for smartphones, tablets, and probably kiosk-PCs with touch-screens, but for anyone looking to get some serious work done on a desktop, I found it frustrating and annoying. And every time I went to the desktop and clicked the Start button, it was back all over again until I disabled it.

    Perhaps they could branch Windows like this:

    Windows 8 “Average User Edition” (formerly Windows 8 Home)
    Windows 8 “Smart User Edition” (formerly Windows 8 Pro, with an easy on/off for the Metro interface)
    Windows 8 “Genius Edition” (formerly Windows 8 Ultimate, with Metro turned off by default)

    I wonder what we’d name the Enterprise Edition, but I’m sure we could figure something out.

    • Kent_dieGo
    • 8 years ago

    They had to have the sad face sideways or else it would have looked too much like the sad Mac face from the original Mac’s.

    • jpostel
    • 8 years ago

    BeOS had the best errors. All in haiku.

    [url<]http://8325.org/haiku/[/url<] Ephemeral site. I am the Blue Screen of Death. No one hears your screams. Rather than a beep Or a rude error message, These words: 'Site not found.'

      • The Wanderer
      • 8 years ago

      Technically those would be (I think) senryu, since they don’t contain even an indirect reference to one of the four seasons – which I understand is required by the definition of haiku.

      Still great error messages, though.

    • dashbarron
    • 8 years ago

    The old BSOD made us a stronger people. We learned to become stoic in a crisis situation and keep our cool.

    This is going to produce a generation of wussies.

    • Wirko
    • 8 years ago

    Ha! Microsoft has plans to show us those blues screens more often than before, so they engaged some real graphic designers and succeeded in making them friendlier.

    The pre-8 design wasn’t exactly in MS’s favor:

    [url<]http://www.dailycognition.com/index.php/2008/09/18/places-worldwide-hit-by-the-windows-blue-screen-of-death.html[/url<]

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    I say, just display a picture of a white skull and crossbones while locking the computer down. Should be a whole lot funnier for inexperienced hacks.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 8 years ago

    NO ONE commented on the message “HAL_INITIALIZATION_FAILED”? Because I immediately thought of the PC refusing to boot while it played the voice of HAL in “2001” saying “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that.”

    Ah well, at least I amused myself :-).

      • Firestarter
      • 8 years ago

      Hardware Abstraction Layer isn’t exciting 🙁

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      I didn’t, but now I do. +1 for you!

    • MadManOriginal
    • 8 years ago

    They should have named it a ‘kernel panic.’ Then Windows PCs would become rock solid stable, never crashing, immune to all viruses, and generally magical all around.

      • crabjokeman
      • 8 years ago

      Windows doesn’t panic. It calmly tells you that it’s crashed, even when it’s the fifth time that day. Then you reboot and go back for more abuse because you know you love it and Bill Gates is your daddy. Don’t worry though, the next version will be better and it will only cost $10 more than the last one.

        • dashbarron
        • 8 years ago

        Still better than a new OSX every two years costing you $30 a pop and you lose immediate support for legacy apps.

          • bcronce
          • 8 years ago

          The cost of OSX is irrelevant, Apples doesn’t sell an OS, they sell hardware, which is why they charge up-to 2xs more for the same hardware.

          eg. I’ll sell you a Ford Torus with aftermarket rims for $60k, but you get free oil changes for life

        • bcronce
        • 8 years ago

        your name suits you well

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    “I don’t know how that ASCII frown will go over in the button-down business world, but I, for one, hope Microsoft keeps it. System crashes are frustrating enough as it is; having your operating system barf up a screen full of ugly, cryptic text is like twisting the knife in the wound.”

    I’m actually on the other end. If I see the a smiley face on a fatal error it’s like someone smiling at you while telling you that you’re fired. It’s almost like the system is mocking you. It doesn’t need to tell you how you feel with a unhappy face.

    The screen is nice except forthat smiley and the coy error message. If it offered some solutions or possible things to do to find a solution it would be much better. Especially if it holds the error code for when the machine reboots, does some basic troubleshooting (like what happened right before the error happened, not just the specific error), and takes you to a area where you could find a solution. Mac error screens can bite my ass.

      • Joe Miller
      • 8 years ago

      Very good suggestions.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        You got a -1 for liking my post… lol.

    • helix
    • 8 years ago

    “Yesterday I was out of bread so I reimagined Breakfast.”

    I reimagined this post at least ones before positng it.

    Oups, I just reimagined the spelling of “posting”. How very reimaginative of me.

    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    I hope that Windows 8 still allows for old BSODs. They are quite useful for diagnosing what is going on with the OS, but the amount of information that they contain is intimidating to average joe user.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      Compared to other OS’s however even the old ones are utterly useless.

      • crabjokeman
      • 8 years ago

      You might want to raise your expectations of your OS if you get nostalgic for the old crash screen.

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      You’re an idiot. The classic BSOD messages were walls upon walls of useless text. You really only need two things: the message above (for example, “HAL_INITIALIZATION_FAILED” or “IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL” or others), and maybe a hex code if you’re hardcore.

      The remaining WALL OF TEXT is useless. It talks about “recently changed hardware” and other generic suggestions that will simply:
      A) fly over the head of an average user
      B) be USELESS for someone who actually does troubleshooting.

      The new BSOD shows the same amount of information as the old one, and it’s a lot nicer.

        • Krogoth
        • 8 years ago

        >doesn’t understand memory dumps

        >doesn’t understand what the codes mean

        They are quite helpful at pinning down driver, hardware and malware related issues.

    • The Wanderer
    • 8 years ago

    As long as they either still provide the specific error codes (e.g. ‘0xc0000005’, the initial hex codes which are always the same for a crash from the same cause), or replace those error codes with equally specific text strings (e.g. “Unable to read boot drive” or “ERROR_READING_BOOT_DRIVE”), I’m all for this.

    I don’t need the memory addresses which are provided with some current BSODs, since I don’t have access to the source code and debugging tools which would let me do anything useful with them, but I do want to know exactly which error I’ve encountered. Presenting the error information in a more user-friendly way isn’t a bad thing (and I do really like the inclusion of that emoticon), but the information itself is IMO essential.

      • EtherealN
      • 8 years ago

      I’d prefer concise text “codes” actually. Not for myself, but for all those that see numbers on screen and just give up. Those are the people they’re catering for here, after all – the rest of us will figure it out anyway. 🙂

        • The Wanderer
        • 8 years ago

        As long as those codes are at least as specific and informative as the numeric error codes we’d otherwise get, yes, I agree entirely.

    • EtherealN
    • 8 years ago

    Just give me the good old Guru Meditations, dammit! 😀

    • Game_boy
    • 8 years ago

    🙁

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    Euh…

    “Your PC ran into a problem that it couldn’t handle, and now it needs to restart.”

    ????????

    “No problem. I can handle it. I restart.”

    Yeah.

    It’s the biggest joke of the week (the year isn’t over yet, and MS might come up with some better ones)

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    Héhé, it makes me laugh…
    It’s a bit like: “you shouldn’t give marks at school, because dum pupils will feel bad about it.”
    So you just tell them all at the sudden at the end of the year that they flunked.

    • jcw122
    • 8 years ago

    If I wanted a silly interface like that, I’d buy a Mac.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      Hehm sorry but OS X’s logs (as are any *nix) are far superior then Windows. You can actually see what lead up to the crash rather then just the end result.

    • tootercomputer
    • 8 years ago

    Does anyone know who first coned the term “blue screen of death” (BSOD) for those blue-screen messages? I always thought it was hilarious and so apt. My memory is that the term started during the W98 days.

      • adisor19
      • 8 years ago

      Nah, that was earlier for sure. Win 95 with its awesome Plug’n Pray implementation is probably responsible for half the BSODs in existence.

      Adi

      • bthylafh
      • 8 years ago

      That’s been around since the very first version of Windows.

        • EtherealN
        • 8 years ago

        Actually, earlier than that. This goes back to IBM PC’s and their OS/2 – IBM being “Big Blue” and that screen being the “Blue Screen of Death”. It transitioned into Microsoft-land through Microsoft having worked with IBM on DOS.

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      Must have been the first person who ever used Windows. 🙂

      On the positive side: the guy who invented it, is dead.

    • XaiaX
    • 8 years ago

    For a more emotionally accurate emoticon, they should use:

    (ノ ゜Д゜)ノ ︵ ┻━━┻

      • CasbahBoy
      • 8 years ago

      Post of the year, right here.

      • Johnny5
      • 8 years ago

      I see the figure in the left half, but I still don’t get it.

        • no51
        • 8 years ago

        it’s flipping the table over

          • destroy.all.monsters
          • 8 years ago

          So it’s not an AK-47 or something?

          Huh.

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Can someone please explain to a dummy how the figure on the left works?!

        • Decelerate
        • 8 years ago

        -Parentheses are the body edges
        -Dots are the eyes
        -The “A” is the mouth
        -The curvy upwards character are the arms

      • Decelerate
      • 8 years ago

      You sir won a year’s worth of Internets

      Thanks for your comment! Brightened up a very, very, very crummy day at work.

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]very crummy day at work.[/quote<] Crumminess can be addressed: [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrl9rnstSU0[/url<] [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geSQeEP2XZk[/url<] [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRpej75hONw[/url<]

      • KoolAidMan
      • 8 years ago

      ┻━┻ ︵ヽ(`Д´)ノ︵ ┻━┻

      • HunterZ
      • 8 years ago

      We’re talking about Microsoft, so the table should be changed to a chair.

    • RtFusion
    • 8 years ago

    Ehhh, not sure if I like this one. I liked the older one since it had more “stuff”, like the hex code, showing that it is creating the dump, and was more informative too (well, it does say that possible causes might be recent software hardware changes and the like).

    Or maybe I’m just “old’ (born in 1990 BTW).

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      You should know by know that it’s MS’s strategy to reduce the amount of information the user gets.

        • EtherealN
        • 8 years ago

        Increasing the odds that the average user actually understands what’s displayed. Whenever someone like my mom, or a sister etcetera gets a BSOD and phones me about the issue, the conversation goes like this:

        “Hey, I had a blue screen, what should I do?”
        “Depends, what did it say?”
        “I dunno, lots of numbers, I didn’t understand any of it.”

        …at which point I have nothing to go on. This essentially distills the information in such a way that a normal person that is not a geek like me (and I assume, like most people here) knows what to look at; if this increases the odds that anyone can notice something saying “ACCESS_VIOLATION” or “IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL” or whatever, the odds of them giving me proper information that lets me help them goes up. With the BSODs as they are right now, they see the blue color, a “wall of numbers”, and immediately give up.

        If you want or need more detailed information, I assume you can still reach it through the dumps and/or event viewer, which is fine by me. Most BSODs I have to handle don’t actually happen on my computer, they happen on some family member’s computer or a user’s machine, and anything that increases the odds that Johnny Newbie can start off his conversation with me with accurate and relevant information is good, in my book.

          • The Wanderer
          • 8 years ago

          Dumps and Event Viewer aren’t always available, though. Dumps aren’t available if the problem is with the hard drive; Event Viewer isn’t available if you’re getting the bluescreen on every boot, and can’t get into the OS.

          That said, I do agree that dropping the hex codes from the default display is a good thing, as long as the actually useful ones – the ones which narrow down the very broad errors described by e.g. “DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL” to something specific enough that it stands a chance of having a specific solution – are replaced by descriptive text, or by some other means of narrowing it down that far.

          The memory-address information in the existing BSODs doesn’t help anyone who doesn’t have access to the source code (or, at the very least, a debug-enabled binary) of the driver or other module at fault. It also does no one outside of Microsoft any good to see the actual hexadecimal values for the various error conditions; what we need to know is the error conditions those values represent, and for that, sufficiently precise descriptive text strings would actually work better.

      • EtherealN
      • 8 years ago

      Let’s not jump ahead though – we don’t know whether they’ve removed any information elsewhere; this is just the BSOD itself. Restarting it, you’ll still have the alert with directions to the dump. If you are an individual that knows how to use the dumps, you don’t need every single bluescreen telling you a dump was made. It’s redundant information to you, but distracting informtion for the newbie.

      • axeman
      • 8 years ago

      If born in 1990 is old, put me on an ice floe and push me out to sea.

      • crabjokeman
      • 8 years ago

      I often feel relatively old too, but then someone tells me about these things called “punch cards” and I feel like a baby again.

    • srg86
    • 8 years ago

    *shrugs* seems more like dumbing down to me, but then I’m a geek. Still at least the reason for the error is still stated.

    • Mystic-G
    • 8 years ago

    Would’ve been better had they used this.

    [url<]http://i1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd394/savemefromsinners/meme%20face%20part%201/tn-tumblr_l9qobyVxbV1qzzud0.jpg[/url<]

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      Or a picture of Bill Gates swimming in his money bin earned from selling Windows.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 8 years ago

    Blue Smiley Of Death!

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      The smiley is white.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        But the paper is blue…

        It’s a bit like “I’m going to torture you to get some information, but you don’t have to take it personally.”

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          Paper?

        • green
        • 8 years ago

        … and not smiling either

    • Sahrin
    • 8 years ago

    Needs moar lulz.

    • The Dark One
    • 8 years ago

    Finally, an answer to the little X_X face Macs used to make when failing to boot properly.

      • adisor19
      • 8 years ago

      I miss those.. hope Tim brings them back. The smiley mac too 🙂

      Adi

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