Steve Ballmer Wrote the Blue Screen of Death

Illustration for article titled Steve Ballmer Wrote the Blue Screen of Death

The Blue Screen of Death is perhaps the most ubiquitous symbol of computer failure thew world knows. But have you ever wondered who sat down to pen the charming text that appears when a PC poops itself?


In fact, according to Microsoft developer Raymond Chen, Steve Ballmer decided that he didn't like the original Blue Screen message in Windows 3.1 and so decided to change it himself. The exchange at Microsoft went, apparently, something like this:

During this time period, Steve Ballmer was head of the Systems Division, and he paid a visit to the Windows team to see what they were up to, as is the wont of many executives.¹ When they showed him the Ctrl+Alt+Del feature, he nodded thoughtfully and added, "This is nice, but I don't like the text of the message. It doesn't sound right to me."

"Okay, Steve. If you think you can do a better job, then go for it." Unlike some other executive, Steve took up the challenge, and a few days later, he emailed what he thought the Ctrl+Alt+Del screen should say.

The result? The rather calm—perhaps frustratingly so!—sentence: "This Windows application has stopped responding to the system." Thanks, Steve.

Of course, the message has now finally changed in Windows 8, with some friendly text ("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, whatever, your PC still crashed. [Raymond Chen via SlashDot]



One of my computers started blue screening regularly and it took me months to figure out that the firmware of the hard drive I just bought was incompatible with my motherboard's chip-set. Only that version of firmware and only that motherboard chip-set. I had searched through dozens of forums until I found others with the same problem I was having. I turned the hard drive into a portable and had no more trouble. Whoever heard of an incompatible platter hard drive? I think it was a Seagate. And it wouldn't just fail, or not show up, it would work for awhile then blue screen.