Sound and Fury in “Black Screen of Death” Saga

I still don’t know what to make of the “Black Screen of Death.” It was initially thought to have affected millions of WIndows users, but now appears to have a stricken a smaller number, perhaps tens of thousands.

What we do know is that a problem struck a relatively small number of Windows users, including those with Windows 7, and that, for those users, the problem ranged from being an inconvenience to something more serious. Beyond that, we’re still looking for answers.

Prevx, the security-software company that originally identified the affliction, suspected that a recent Windows security update was to blame for the problem, which apparently causes desktop icons and the start menu to disappear from computers, leaving a black screen behind.

Microsoft has countered that malware, and not a security update, was the likely cause of the problem. Prevx has apologized to Microsoft for rushing to judgment with its initial diagnosis, which proved errant, but it also has defended itself from criticisms that it overstated the severity of the glitch.

All in all, recriminations are flying, and lessons should be learned, as PC World’s Tony Bradley notes.

On the Internet, though, everybody wants the scoop, the edge, the time advantage that accrues from identifying or getting to something — a story, a development, or actionable information — ahead of everybody else.

That pressure will ensure that we’ll all struggle — vendors, writers, and readers alike — to sort the wheat from the chaff as we thresh real-time information.

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