02.11.10

Microsoft is Bricking Windows XP

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 8:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows XP wall

Summary: Tuesday’s patches make Windows XP unbootable or prone to blue screens of death for some clients; Xbox has had and is having similar problems

EARLIER TODAY a reader told us that last week's Conficker attack in Leeds hospital was partly caused by negligent administrators who had not patched their Windows boxes. He added that they probably did not patch the operating system because very often those patches render the machines unbootable. On Tuesday came a large number of security patches for Windows [1, 2] and according to Brian Krebs from the Washington Post, those patches broke Windows XP, Microsoft’s most widely deployed operating system.

If you use Windows XP and haven’t yet updated your system with the applicable security updates that Microsoft issued Tuesday, you might want to hold off for a bit. Turns out, a non-trivial number of XP users are reporting that their systems suffer from the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) and fall into an interminable reboot loop after installing the latest batch of patches from Redmond.

Watch the number of comments. People can relate. “I wonder if Microsoft will issue an apology,” said the person who brought this to our attention. Can Microsoft blame anyone else, just like it always does? Maybe some PC manufacturer? It did accuse HP when some Vista patches had messed up machines with a particular CPU (which fortunately not many people were using). Remember: it’s never ever Microsoft’s fault. It can’t be, as that would be harmful to Microsoft’s already stagnant-reputation and thus be bad for its shareholders.

Microsoft was also bricking/banning Xbox 360s (there were many cases of accidental bricking, especially around 2006-2008 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]) and the situation over there is so bad that more people are ditching Xbox. The following is a new example brought up by a reader of ours earlier today:

If I cancel my paid subscription to Xbox Live this week (which, let’s be honest, is a empty threat at best), it’s in protest to what I’m about to have an almighty hissy fit about.

Here’s the vexation: When I switch on my Xbox, I do not expect to have smutty advertisements for body spray thrust in my face. I don’t really expect any ads — I already pay for the service, after all. But if you must promote something, promote some DLC for a game you know I regularly play, perhaps.

Walmart is already responding to decreased demand by de-emphasising Xbox 360.
______
[1] Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against MS For Bricked 360s

According to Gamespot, the suit seeks a minimum of $10 million in damages, depending on how MS decides to defend itself.

[2] Numerous Reports, November 30 Xbox 360 Update Is Bricking Consoles

Some consoles are being bricked by Thursday’s dashboard update. Issues range from freezing, red ring of death and VGA adapterm alfunction. Microsoft isn’t acknowledging the issue and billing $140 for repairs.

[3] Update brick your 360? Speak up

Since yesterday’s update, there are numerous reports about 360s being bricked. Some people suspect that this is being done by Microsoft intentionally to stop modders and hackers. Xbox Scene thinks it has more to do with certain combinations of hardware and firmware.

[4] Autoupdate killed my 360!

I was fine yesterday gaming with the VGA cable but after getting the autoupdate today, I get a black screen. Does Microsoft test these things? My connection to the TV didn’t change yet its screwed. Thanks for nothing Microsoft.

[5] Xbox Gets a Longer Warranty

This autumn, Microsoft acknowledged that a glitch in the Xbox’s online update system damaged a small number of customers’ consoles before the problem was quickly fixed. At least one customer has sued over the incident.

[6] RedOctane admits to problems with GH2 patch

While the patch was supposed to solve the problem of whammy bar responsiveness on GH2 controllers, it also seemed to have the unfortunate side-effect of bricking and freezing consoles, if the Xbox 360 forums are any indication.

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3 Comments

  1. Robotron 2084 said,

    February 12, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Gravatar

    I no longer service computers professionally, but in all my years working on machines for clients and family, I’ve never had a single update prevent a system from successfully starting after a reboot. Ever. Does that mean it never happens to anyone? No, it certainly can happen. Computers are complex beasts and there is so much variety that trouble is inevitable. Sometimes Microsoft is a fault. Sometimes it’s a 3rd party. Sometimes it’s bad hardware or user negligence. Even still, some “reader” claiming that “very often those patches render the machines unbootable” is just flat out false. Odds are this person is either Roy himself or someone who is anti-Microsoft.

    Slashdot has the lead on this story here: http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/02/12/1455203/Rootkit-May-Be-Behind-Windows-Blue-Screen

    Now, I’m sure Roy will blame a lack of Windows security for the rootkits that may actually be at fault for the problem, but it’s worth noting that Roy had already assessed blame before all the data was in.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    February 12, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Gravatar

    I don’t normally even read comments from the trolls, but here Robotron 2084 was partially right. Here are some other references:
    http://patrickwbarnes.com/blog/2010/02/microsoft-update-kb977165-triggering-widespread-bsod/
    The only way to determine for sure what causes a crash is to properly debug it. On Windows I use Debugging Tools for Windows, on Linux I use PDB

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Oops, I mean GDB. BTW, I said that many times before too.

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