Main image of article Steve Ballmer Authored Your Blue Screen of Death
Millions of people have shrieked in horror and dismay at Microsoft’s infamous “Blue Screen of Death,” which appears in response to critical software and hardware failures. What fewer people know—at least until now—is that the text accompanying the BSoD was originally written by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, famous for his bombastic public appearances and failing to realize that mobile devices would become the Next Big Thing in computing. Click here to find Microsoft-related jobs. According to Microsoft developer Raymond Chen, Ballmer didn’t like the original text that accompanied the BSoD in Windows 3.1, so he wrote up a new version. If you used Windows at any point in the past two decades, you can thank him for that infuriatingly passive “This Windows application has stopped responding to the system” message, accompanied by the offer to hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart the PC (and lose all your unsaved data). Windows 8’s Blue Screen of Death offers a somewhat friendlier message (“Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart. We’re just collecting some error info, and then we’ll restart for you.”), but that’s probably not much comfort to someone whose system has just crashed. (Hat tip to The Verge for the link to Chen’s blog.) (Editor's Note: Chen has updated his story, saying that Ballmer wrote the text for the Ctrl+Alt+Delete screen, which is not the Blue Screen of Death. "I mean, it had a Cancel option, for goodness's sake," he wrote. "What message of death comes with a Cancel option?")

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