Blue screen of death

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Blue Screen of Death (BSoD), officially known as a Stop error, Blue screen error, fatal error, or bugcheck[1][2][3] is an error screen displayed by the Microsoft Windows or ReactOS operating systems.

The screen shows in the event of a fatal system error and indicates a system crash, system termination, or system failure. It indicates that the operating system has reached a critical condition where it can no longer operate safely. Possible causes of a Blue Screen of Death include hardware failure, an issue with a device driver, or an unexpected termination of a crucial process or thread.

Contrary to popular belief, the Windows Embedded Compact (formerly known as Windows CE) line do not contain a Blue Screen of Death screen.[4]


External video
YouTube logo
Videos of the boot screen on Windows 1.01 filled with random characters due to an incorrect DOS version.
video icon Windows 1.0 BSOD (Incorrect DOS Version): Short version, showing a failed Windows startup.
video icon Windows 1.01 Blue Screen of Death: Long version, showing installation of MS-DOS 6 and Windows 1.01, and the failed startup of Windows 1.01.

An early blue error screen first existed in the Beta Release of

Windows 1.0; if Windows found a different DOS version than it expected, the error message "Incorrect DOS version" alongside other text messages detailing what check failed to pass would be appended to the boot screen before starting normally.[5] In the final release (version 1.01), however, this screen prints out random characters after the "Incorrect DOS version" text as a result of a bug in the Windows logo code.[5]
This is not a crash screen, however; upon crashing, Windows 1.0 either locks up or exits to DOS.

Windows 3.1 changed the color of this screen from black to blue. Windows 3.1 also displays a blue screen when the user presses the Ctrl+Alt+Delete
key combination while no programs were unresponsive (the reverse is true for when there are unresponsive programs). As with prior versions, Windows 3.x exits to DOS if an error condition is severe enough.

The original Blue Screen of Death from Windows NT 3.51 (Italian

The first Blue Screen of Death appeared in

all Windows operating systems
released afterwards. In its first iteration, the error screens started with *** STOP:, hence it became known as a "stop error."

BSoDs can be caused by poorly written device drivers or malfunctioning hardware,[7] such as faulty memory, power supply issues, overheating of components, or hardware running beyond its specification limits. In the Windows 9x operating systems, incompatible DLLs or bugs in the operating system kernel could also cause BSoDs.[8] Because of the instability and lack of memory protection in Windows 9x OSes, BSoDs were much more common.

Incorrect attribution

On September 4, 2014, several online journals, including

Raymond Chen, entitled "Who wrote the text for the Ctrl+Alt+Del dialog in Windows 3.1?".[19] The article focused on the creation of the first rudimentary task manager in Windows 3.x, which shared visual similarities with a BSoD.[19] In a follow-up on September 9, 2014, Raymond Chen complained about this widespread mistake, claimed responsibility for revising the BSoD in Windows 95 and panned for having "entirely fabricated a scenario and posited it as real".[20] Engadget later updated its article to correct the mistake.[11]


BSoDs originally showed

Windows NT family, however, the color is hard-coded.[25]

Windows 95, 98 and

Boot Configuration Data).[26] Windows 10, versions 1607 and later, uses the same format as Windows 8, but has a QR code
which leads to a Microsoft Support web page that tries to help users troubleshoot the issue step-by-step.

Windows NT

The Blue Screen of Death in Windows 2000
The Blue Screen of Death in Windows 2000
The Blue Screen of Death in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, as well as Windows Server operating systems such as Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2
The Blue screen of death on Windows 8 and 8.1.
The Blue Screen of Death in Windows 8.x and Windows 10 (RTM–1511), which includes a sad emoticon
and an Internet search for quick troubleshooting.

In the

kernel mode encounters an error from which it cannot recover. This is usually caused by an illegal operation being performed. The only safe action the operating system can take in this situation is to restart the computer
. As a result, data may be lost, as users are not given an opportunity to save it.

The text on the error screen contains the code of the error and its symbolic name (e.g. "0x0000001E, KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED") along with four error-dependent values in parentheses that are there to help software engineers fix the problem that occurred. Depending on the error code, it may display the address where the problem occurred, along with the driver which is loaded at that address. Under Windows NT, the second and third sections of the screen may contain information on all loaded drivers and a stack dump, respectively. The driver information is in three columns; the first lists the base address of the driver, the second lists the driver's creation date (as a

RAM). The resulting memory dump file may be debugged later, using a kernel debugger. For Windows, WinDBG or KD debuggers from Debugging Tools for Windows are used.[28] A debugger is necessary to obtain a stack trace, and may be required to ascertain the true cause of the problem; as the information on-screen is limited and thus possibly misleading, it may hide the true source of the error. By default, Windows XP is configured to save only a 64kB minidump when it encounters a stop error, and to then automatically reboot the computer. Because this process happens very quickly, the blue screen may be seen only for an instant or not at all. Users have sometimes noted this as a random reboot
rather than a traditional stop error, and are only aware of an issue after Windows reboots and displays a notification that it has recovered from a serious error. This happens only when the computer has a function called "Auto Restart" enabled, which can be disabled in the Control Panel which in turn shows the stop error.

Microsoft Windows can also be configured to send live debugging information to a kernel debugger running on a separate computer. If a stop error is encountered while a live kernel debugger is attached to the system, Windows will halt execution and cause the debugger to break in, rather than displaying the BSoD. The debugger can then be used to examine the contents of memory and determine the source of the problem.

A BSoD can also be caused by a critical boot loader error, where the operating system is unable to access the boot partition due to incorrect storage drivers, a damaged file system or similar problems. The error code in this situation is STOP 0x0000007B (INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE).[29] In such cases, there is no memory dump saved. Since the system is unable to boot from the hard drive in this situation, correction of the problem often requires using the repair tools found on the Windows installation disc.


Japanese Language), Note that the sad emoticon
is not present.

Before Windows Server 2012, each BSoD displayed an error name in uppercase (e.g. APC_INDEX_MISMATCH), a hexadecimal error number (e.g. 0x00000001) and four parameters. The last two are shown together in the following format:[30]

error code (parameter 1, parameter 2, parameter 3, parameter 4) error name

Depending on the error number and its nature, all, some, or even none of the parameters contain data pertaining to what went wrong, and/or where it happened. In addition, the error screens showed four paragraphs of general explanation and advice and may have included other technical data such the file name of the culprit and memory addresses.

With the release of Windows Server 2012, the BSoD was changed, removing all of the above in favor of the error name and a concise description. Windows 8 also added a sad-emoticon as well (except on the Japanese versions

memory dumps. Since Windows 10 version 1607, the screen features a QR code
for quick troubleshooting. Windows 10 versions 2004–22H2 and Windows 11 changed the text slightly from "Your PC ran into a problem" to "Your device ran into a problem".

Windows 9x

Windows 9x is a community nickname given for Microsoft's line of consumer-oriented operating systems released from 1995 to 2000. The series includes Windows 95, 98, and Me (although the latter OS does not match the naming scheme of the two prior OSes). All Windows 9x operating systems are based on the Windows 95 kernel and MS-DOS, with the MS-DOS portion running versions 7 and 8.

Blue Screen of Death

The Blue Screen of Death in Windows 9x, as it appears on Windows Me

The Windows 9x operating systems used the Blue Screen of Death as the main way for virtual device drivers to report errors to the user. This version of the BSoD, internally referred to as "_VWIN32_FaultPopup", gives the user the option either to restart the computer or to continue using Windows. This behavior is in contrast with the Windows NT versions of the BSoD, which prevents the user from using the computer until it has been powered off or restarted (usually automatic).

The most common BSoD is displayed on an 80×25 text-mode screen, which is the operating system's way of reporting an interrupt caused by a processor exception; it is a more serious form of the general protection fault dialog boxes. The memory address of the error is given and the error type is a hexadecimal number from 00 to 11 (0 to 17 decimal). The error codes are as follows:[32]

  • 00: Division
  • 01: Startup Error
  • 02: Non-Maskable Interrupt
  • 03: Shutdown Error
  • 04: Overflow Trap
  • 05: Bounds Check Fault
  • 06: Invalid Opcode Fault
  • 07: "Coprocessor Not Available" Fault
  • 08: Double Fault
  • 09: Coprocessor Segment Overrun
  • 0A: Invalid Task State Segment Fault
  • 0B: Not Present Fault
  • 0C: Stack Fault
  • 0D:
    General Protection Fault
  • 0E: Page Fault
  • 0F: Error Message Limit Exceed
  • 10: Coprocessor Error Fault
  • 11: Alignment Check Fault

Reasons for BSoDs include:

  • Problems that occur with incompatible versions of DLLs: Windows loads these DLLs into memory when they are needed by application programs; if versions are changed, the next time an application loads the DLL it may be different from what the application expects. These incompatibilities increase over time as more new software is installed. According to some people[who?], this is one of the main reasons why a clean install of Windows is more stable than an "old" one (or an in-place upgrade).
  • Faulty or poorly written device drivers.
  • Hardware incompatibilities.
  • Damaged hardware may also cause a BSoD.

In Windows 95 and 98, a BSoD occurs when the system attempts to access the file "c:\con\con", "c:\aux\aux", or "c:\prn\prn" on the hard drive. This could be inserted on a website to crash visitors' machines as a prank. In reality, however, they are reserved device names for DOS systems. Attempting to access them from Windows causes a crash, which in turn brings up said BSoD. On March 16, 2000, Microsoft released a security update to resolve this issue.[33]

One famous instance of a Windows 9x BSoD occurred during a presentation of a Windows 98

Plug and Play devices. This event brought thunderous applause from the crowd and Gates replied (after a nervous pause): "That must be why we're not shipping Windows 98 yet."[34]

Similar screens

Windows Longhorn

Stop errors are comparable to

Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) when the host computer's BIOS encounters a problem.[36] The bootloader of the first beta version of Windows Vista also displays a red error screen in the event of a boot failure.[37][38][39] The Xbox One has a Green Screen of Death instead of a blue one.[citation needed] In Windows 10, an Orange Screen of Death appears when there is a driver incompatibility present.[citation needed

As mentioned earlier, the insider builds of Windows Server 2016 and later, Windows 10, and Windows 11 displays a green screen.[23][24][21]

See also


  1. ^ "Troubleshoot blue screen errors". Support. Microsoft. April 10, 2019. Archived from the original on September 20, 2020.
  2. ^ "Understanding Bugchecks". TECHCOMMUNITY.MICROSOFT.COM. March 16, 2019. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  3. ^ "Blue screen data - Windows drivers". Microsoft Learn. Retrieved March 21, 2023.
  4. ^ "Blue screen - Microsoft Windows Embedded Compact VErsion 7.00 (Build 2864)". Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Why does Windows 1.01 crash at the splash screen?". Retro Computing. August 30, 2021. In the final release of Windows, these detailed messages were hastily removed. The code that would print them, however, was not, and this is what produces the garbage output.
  6. ^ Chen, Raymond (September 26, 2017). "Who implemented the Windows NT blue screen of death?". The Old New Thing. Microsoft. Archived from the original on March 15, 2019. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  7. ^ Wilson, Michelle (July 25, 2019). "What is the Blue Screen of Death in Windows 10 and How to Fix it?". HP. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  8. ^ Cepero, Robert (May 17, 2019). "Blue Screen of Death: Causes and Fixes". Bleuwire. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  9. ^ Smith, Dave (September 4, 2014). "Steve Ballmer Wrote The Blue Screen Of Death". Business Insider. Business Insider Inc. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  10. Daily Tech. DailyTech LLC. Archived from the original
    on August 20, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  11. ^ a b Fingas, Jon (September 4, 2014). "Steve Ballmer wrote Windows' first Ctrl-Alt-Delete message (updated)". Engadget. AOL. Archived from the original on September 9, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  12. ^ Condliffe, Jamie (September 4, 2014). "Steve Ballmer Wrote the Blue Screen of Death". Gizmodo. Gizmodo Media Group. Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Kidman, Alex (September 5, 2014). "Steve Ballmer Wrote The BSOD, So Stop Slacking Off". Lifehacker. Allure Media. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  14. ^ Sams, Brad (September 4, 2014). "Steve Ballmer wrote the BSOD text". Neowin. Neowin LLC. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  15. ^ Popa, Bogdan (September 4, 2014). "Steve Ballmer Himself Created the First Blue Screen of Death Text". Softpedia. SoftNews SRL. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  16. ^ Schiesser, Tim (September 4, 2014). "The original Blue Screen of Death was written by Steve Ballmer". TechSpot. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  17. ^ Sharwood, Simon (September 4, 2014). "Ballmer PERSONALLY wrote Windows' Blue Screen of Death text". The Register. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  18. ^ Warren, Tom (September 4, 2014). "Steve Ballmer wrote the Blue Screen of Death message". The Verge. Vox Media. Archived from the original on September 7, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  19. ^ a b Chen, Raymond (September 2, 2014). "Who wrote the text for the Ctrl+Alt+Del dialog in Windows 3.1?". The Old New Thing. Microsoft. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  20. ^ a b Chen, Raymond (September 9, 2014). "Steve Ballmer did not write the text for the blue screen of death". The Old New Thing. Microsoft. Archived from the original on October 25, 2020. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  21. ^ a b c Warren, Tom (July 1, 2021). "Microsoft's Blue Screen of Death is changing to black in Windows 11". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved July 2, 2021. While Microsoft is switching to a Black Screen of Death in Windows 11, the screen is identical to the one found in Windows 10 otherwise. The sad face remains, as does the stop code and crash dump. The current preview of Windows 11 includes a green BSOD, a color that Microsoft has been using for Windows Insider builds since 2016.
  22. ^ Klotz, Aaron (November 23, 2021). "Windows 11 Update Makes BSOD Blue Again and Fixes Major File Explorer Bugs". Tom's Hardware.
  23. ^ a b Williams, Wayne (December 29, 2016). "Behold the Windows 10 GSOD -- Green Screen of Death". BetaNews. Archived from the original on January 12, 2017.
  24. ^ a b Warren, Tom (December 29, 2016). "Windows 10 testers will now get a Green Screen of Death". The Verge. Vox Media. Archived from the original on January 1, 2017.
  25. ^
    OCLC 44090524
    . BSOD stands for Blue Screen Of Death. One can customize the colors of this screen by setting a couple of variables in the 386Enh section of SYSTEM.INI: MessageTextColor and MessageBackColor. The user can only customize the BSOD under Windows 3.1, 95, and 98. These changes do not work under the Windows NT variants.
  26. ^ Graff, Eliot; Marshall, Don (December 15, 2021). "BCDEdit /set - Windows drivers". Windows Hardware Developer. Microsoft. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020 – via Microsoft Docs.
  27. .
  28. ^ DOMARS. "Getting Started with WinDbg (Kernel-Mode)". Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
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  30. ^ "STOP: 0x00000001 (parameter, parameter, parameter, parameter) APC_INDEX_MIS". Archived from the original on June 15, 2018. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  31. ^ The-Feren-OS-Dev (May 31, 2021). "Something about the way Windows 8/10's BSODs look in Japanese reminds me of the original Windows 8 BSOD design- OH". r/windows. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  32. ^ "What Are Fatal Exception Errors". Support. Microsoft. January 19, 2007. Archived from the original on August 23, 2003. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  33. ^ Microsoft Corporation (2000). "Patch Available for "DOS Device in Path Name" Vulnerability". TechNet. Microsoft. Archived from the original on August 30, 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2006.
  34. CBS Interactive. Archived
    from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  35. ^ David W. Martin (August 6, 2011). "Black Screen Of Death Plagues Some Mac Users After Lion Update". Archived from the original on August 28, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  36. ^ "Advanced Configuration and Power Interface Errors on Red Screen". Support (1.3 ed.). Microsoft. January 10, 2015. Archived from the original on July 25, 2015.
  37. ^ Kaplan, Michael (May 7, 2005). "Longhorn on Virtual PC 2004". Sorting it all Out. Microsoft. Archived from the original on January 3, 2013.
  38. CBS Interactive. Archived
    from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  39. ^ Farrell, Nick (June 3, 2005). "Microsoft sees red over blue screen of death". The Inquirer. Incisive Media. Archived from the original on August 25, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)

External links