Microsoft: Vista's 'Black Screen of Death' Is a Hoax

Has Microsoft adopted an even tougher stance on piracy? According to recent e-mails warning of new, harsher anti-piracy measures in Windows Vista, that was believed to be the case.

Australian PC World printed an e-mail Tuesday it says was sent from a Microsoft representative to an unspecified large Vista OEM distributor. The e-mail describes a new initiative which renders computers running a pirated copy of Vista unusable by making the screen totally black.

Microsoft was quick to debunk this e-mail warning of a Black Screen of Death. A Microsoft representative told Wired News "the reporter received inaccurate information," and that the company has not rolled out any updates to Windows Vista's anti-piracy platform.

News source: WinBeta

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41 Comments

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I'm not joking but I think that has just happened to me on my PC lastnight, Windows update said it installed 2 updates, not requiring restart.
So when I restart it says Configuring Updates, I'm like hmmm.
Now when I boot up my Vista PC (using the BIOS hack) it does the loading banner, but once its supposed to load it just goes black, and CPU usage and HDD usage stops, no crash or anything.

AshUK said,
I'm not joking but I think that has just happened to me on my PC lastnight, Windows update said it installed 2 updates, not requiring restart.
So when I restart it says Configuring Updates, I'm like hmmm.
Now when I boot up my Vista PC (using the BIOS hack) it does the loading banner, but once its supposed to load it just goes black, and CPU usage and HDD usage stops, no crash or anything.

Good. The fact that you say you use the BIOS hack indicates you pirated the operating system. And now your crack has failed. HAHAHAHA.

Moving along now, the behaviour you indicate is NOT the behaviour detailed in this "hoax". The behaviour in this "hoax" is that Windows will remove all your icons and offer you "reduced functionality mode" which lets you simply browse the web for half an hour or something, and enter a new key.

It's not a hoax, as a MS small business member they sent me a notice by registered mail detailing the diminished operating capability once a non genuine key is detected or at the failing of wga passing.


I actually think this isn't a hoax, but it is a misrepresentation of what happens. And it's not "new" - the functionality has been there in vista all along.

I've seen the 'black screen' at a MS TS2 event, But it's not like a BSOD crash screen. It's just a black desktop (i.e. no wallpaper image), with a couple icons on it.

Check out the support page for "reduced functionality mode" for what you can and can't do.

Clicky: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/925582

If someone's got a non-genuine copy, install it onto a virtual machine and take some screen-shots after it fails activation and/or WGA.

This is unrelated... But there IS such thing as a BSOD on Vista, only it has nothing to do with pirating

Some BSOD issues have been reported with certain earlier Vista drivers (such as Nvidia), etc.

True but it happens. Where I work we ended up getting a batch of Pirated copies from Ingram Micro and TechData. They bought them from a 3rd Party vs normal MS. They look so dam close now days. We got new copys to replace the bad ones for free both times. So in the normal retail / oem chains sometimes bad ones do get mixed in. You can be a user think you paid good cash for a good copy and it was a clone.

Actually, the original email in that post may have been a hoax, but I'm not sure that it didn't actually reflect a coming reality. For the life of me I don't know why people don't seem to care that their computers are monitored by Microsoft such that they can be switched off or dumbed down.

Microsoft really make spyware companies look like amateurs. x)

David3k said,
"Microsoft is watching me, readin my docs, watchin my vids!"

:rolleyes:

Man I am not being paranoid or tin-hattish. Laugh all you like, makes no difference to me.

James7 said,
Man I am not being paranoid or tin-hattish. Laugh all you like, makes no difference to me. :cool:
I think it was just that David3k didn't agree with your post, so he decided to attack your credibility as a person.

oh wow i bet that will finally stop piracy just like their awesome software licensing system which rendered the os uncrackable!

oh wait...
nm

hapbt said,
oh wow i bet that will finally stop piracy just like their awesome software licensing system which rendered the os uncrackable!

oh wait...
nm

WTF was that? Microsoft MUST do everything to protect their work. Kill switches and surveys is the best way to keep piracy down in companies.

Pip'

Pippin666 said,
WTF was that? Microsoft MUST do everything to protect their work. Kill switches and surveys is the best way to keep piracy down in companies.

Pip'

I've got a car for sale, want to buy it? Just be aware that you can only travel on certain streets and you cannot transport anyone but yourself with it.

ANova said,

I've got a car for sale, want to buy it? Just be aware that you can only travel on certain streets and you cannot transport anyone but yourself with it.

If I agree to buy that car then I must abide by those rules, its not like they were sprung on me after the sale. I can also not buy your car and go elsewhere.

.AlleymaN said,
If I agree to buy that car then I must abide by those rules, its not like they were sprung on me after the sale. I can also not buy your car and go elsewhere.

You have the option of buying my car and following my rules or buying my neighbor's car while being limited to a different section of the city.

Or you have the option of building your own car with unabated access but also need to pave your own streets before you can drive it.

.AlleymaN said,

If I agree to buy that car then I must abide by those rules, its not like they were sprung on me after the sale. I can also not buy your car and go elsewhere.


No they are just obfuscated in a very long confusing and misleading EULA

They already tried that. "The RSoD" - people got so scared that it was worse than a BSoD they had to change back.

You mean they haven't? I haven't seen one in years so I can't be sure.

Actually I think the vast majority of Windows users hasn't seen one in years either. But ho hum, I guess some people live with a Win9x mentality forever.

Lant said,
They already tried that. "The RSoD" - people got so scared that it was worse than a BSoD they had to change back.

Wasn't that only for the bootloader?

Note well folks, Microsoft are now digging through it's eOpen licensing, looking at "the licensing
position" of companies that employ 100 - 1000 people. The require a survey to be completed
numbers of computer / server, and then proof licenses. If a company does not respond,
they first threaten and then send in the "big boys". Don't be surprised about anything!

Microsoft are desperate to raise revenues, to improve their 5 year "flat line" stock price.

boho said,
Note well folks, Microsoft are now digging through it's eOpen licensing, looking at "the licensing
position" of companies that employ 100 - 1000 people. The require a survey to be completed
numbers of computer / server, and then proof licenses. If a company does not respond,
they first threaten and then send in the "big boys". Don't be surprised about anything!

Microsoft are desperate to raise revenues, to improve their 5 year "flat line" stock price.


Are you saying that you don't like the fact that Microsoft wants to enforce volume licensing agreements that the companies agreed to? That "survey" is a Microsoft asset inventory. Shocking that they expect you to pay for the software you're using, isn't it?

Audits and True-ups are very common. I work for a company with 2000+ people. We go through quarterly/yearly audits from MS, Oracle, Adobe, etc... This is how companies "true-up" with their volume license agreements.

The difference is, that these are not for people with volume license agreements, this
is Microsoft raking through, auditing companies they think are worth a punt. My comment
is a "head up" to those who have an interest in reading a post like this!

boho said,
The difference is, that these are not for people with volume license agreements, this
is Microsoft raking through, auditing companies they think are worth a punt. My comment
is a "head up" to those who have an interest in reading a post like this!

Funny, they aren't approaching us, and we have over 5000 desktop computers and 9000 staff. Perhaps you're simply lying?

The article may be a hoax. I had my doubts early on.

But this is really the direction Microsoft are heading. That much is clear. How long people will continue to tolerate it is another matter. It's not just the growing number of false positives making paid users suffer, it's also the whole privacy and control thing.

Quoting Microsoft: "The reporter received inaccurate information."

Translating to Straight English: "Note that we didn't say we're -not- implementing this feature, only that the reporter claimed it was a black screen of death rather than a teal screen of death. We're Microsoft. We don't do black. However, instead of correcting this minor mistake, we'd like you to remove the article completely seeing as how we don't want to rile up our consumers before we unleash what will doubtlessly be a buggy anti-piracy tool that will plague hundreds if not thousands of legitimate users (as demonstrated only a week ago). Thank you, and **** all of you."

Gotcha.

Yeah why would they have a tool just black the screen out and not TELL you to go buy a version? That's sort of a waste of their time, it's just going to make people think their PCs have died...

hapbt said,
Yeah why would they have a tool just black the screen out and not TELL you to go buy a version? That's sort of a waste of their time, it's just going to make people think their PCs have died...
Pirate deserves that.

Pip'

Good Idea??!! What are you on! WGA often detects legit copies as pirated, I've seen it many times. This only hurts legit users.

DKAngel said,
like they would do that

Think back to the WGA server failure a couple of weeks ago. What happened? This exact behavior.

Maybe Microsoft doesn't want to activate this functionality yet, but the functionality is already in Vista/WGA waiting to be used.

Face it, MS put a kill switch in Vista. I hope someone finds a way to exploit it, so that MS can't deny it anymore.

Furthermore, this constitutes a security threat. Government computers cannot run an OS with a huge, gaping backdoor that can be exploited without warning, or is susceptible to bugs like the WGA server failure. I doubt any corporation would want this kind of threat either?

MS needs to remove this stuff from Vista, otherwise Vista will remain a consumer-only OS like WinME was.

toadeater said,

Furthermore, this constitutes a security threat. Government computers cannot run an OS with a huge, gaping backdoor that can be exploited without warning, or is susceptible to bugs like the WGA server failure. I doubt any corporation would want this kind of threat either?

MS needs to remove this stuff from Vista, otherwise Vista will remain a consumer-only OS like WinME was.

Governments and large corporations don't use the WGA system. They use a local KMS which checks with Microsoft FAR more infrequently (like, rarely ever) and basically replies "OK" for every key it knows is valid in the organisation without calling back to MS.