Malware has been identified as the root cause of the Windows issue, dubbed the 'black screen of death'.
Initially, the cause was identified as a Microsoft patch by Prevx – the UK security firm that first identified the issue and created a fix. However, after working closely with Microsoft to find out the source of the problem, malware has been identified as the cause.
According to Prevx: “The issue appears to be related to a characteristic of the Windows Registry related to the storage of string data. In parsing the Shell value in the registry, Windows requires a null terminated "REG_SZ" string. However, if malware or indeed any other program modifies the shell entry to not include null terminating characters, the shell will no longer load properly, resulting in the infamous Black Screen.”
The security vendor has since issued an apology to Microsoft for any inconvenience that its announcement may have caused and in a blog entry wrote: “The emergence of this issue coincided with the recent set of Windows updates, therefore our investigations were focused on identifying if any of these could have been the cause of the problem.
“Regrettably, it is clear that our original blog post has been taken out of context and may have caused an inconvenience for Microsoft. This was never our intention and we have already apologised to Microsoft. Microsoft is a valued partner and our fix was developed to ensure its customers were able to quickly resolve the Black Screen issue without having to reinstall Windows as some users indicated.”