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Windows 'Black Screen' Problem Still a Mystery

U.K.-based security firm Prevx has apologized after initially suggesting that changes in Microsoft's November security patch might be causing "black screens" in Windows-based machines.

Late last week, Prevx said in a blog post that the cause of the black screens might due to how new rules for the ACL (access control list) were being applied to Windows registry keys during updates. The company said that the black screens affected the following operating systems: Windows 7, Vista, XP, NT, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008.

On Tuesday, Prevx issued a mea culpa to Microsoft, emphasizing that there could be multiple causes for the black screens.

Prevx hasn't specified how many users may be affected by the problem, but it does offer a free tool to fix the black screen problem. The company indicated on Wednesday that "there have been more than 50,000 downloads of the free fix tool since we made it available 5 days ago."

Apparently, the cause of the black screens still remains a mystery. Microsoft does not see it as a pervasive issue.

Christopher Budd, Microsoft's security spokesman, said in an e-mail that the company has "investigated reports that its November security updates made changes to permissions in the registry that are resulting in system issues for some customers." He added that Microsoft's Customer Service and Support organization is "not seeing 'black screen' behavior as a broad customer issue."

Budd ruled out the registry key association with the problem in a blog post on Tuesday. While Microsoft doesn't know the cause of the problem, Budd stated that "'black screen' behavior is associated with some malware families such as Daonol."

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.

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