Watch out for the Microsoft Windows ‘Blue Screen of Update’

Originally posted on Reddit. Click for more.
Originally posted on Reddit. Click for more.

What is this?  Ransomware?  A new Cryptolocker? A less scary blue screen of death?

Nope. This is a Microsoft Update.

The latest stupid Microsoft trick hit me today — it’s been making the rounds for the past several weeks, and it’s likely to hit you, too. So I’m writing up this warning to do Microsoft’s job for the company.

Today, I turned on my Windows 10 laptop for the first time since Christmas and all I could see was the message above.

“All your files are exactly where you left them.”  I certainly expected the next message to be, “They are unharmed, but if you ever want to see them again, here are my demands….”

(The image was posted a couple of weeks ago on Reddit by user lawpoop, who experienced the same low-level panic as me).

My keyboard was unresponsive. The message didn’t change for what seemed like an eternity. Sure, the font hinted that Microsoft was up to something, but anyone could copy that.  The situation for “Betsy,” my laptop, seemed dire. I scrambled for a backup computer to decide if I should shut her down and pull her off the Net, or just ride it out.

But by the time my Windows 7 machine could boot, there was a new message telling me that exciting new features were coming my way.  Then, “Let’s get started,” or something similar.  And then, the machine booted up.  It looked normal, though some things had been moved around a bit.

The expression WTF was invented for situations like this.

A little Googling let me know what was going on.  Microsoft is running around installing a major update to Windows 10, and this is how someone in Redmond decided to do it.  Incredible.  We could start heckling this step by wondering why the software giant would go with a blue background screen on this, as the jokes write themselves. But the insensitivity to the very serious ransomware troubles plaguing PC users right now is kind of incredible.

The word “clumsy” doesn’t begin to describe the user experience.

I suppose there might have been some media warning about this two months ago, but I certainly don’t remember it.  Apparently, I missed an earlier messages in the sequence that said “We’ve updated your computer.”  I never saw it..it certainly wasn’t on the screen anywhere near as long as the bit about my files being where I left them.  I can’t imagine relying on that when doing something this menacing to a computer.

I’m hardly the only one who feels this way.

“Whoever thought that was a good idea should be fired right now. And whoever thought that after rebooting not showing us what the heck the update did or why that message appeared should be right out after them. Unbelievable,” wrote another Reddit user.

Lawpoop, meanwhile, tried to see the humor in it.

I feel like Windows mistakenly did something horrible to my files, and then managed to fix them while in a panic,” the user wrote.

The update is not without additional controversy.  Microsoft is being accused to removing some users’ software during updates — the firm had previously said it might do so if it found unauthorized software on users’ machines.

I’ve asked Microsoft about the update and I’ll get back to you with what I hear. Here’s a good write-up about the new features expected to be included in the update. They are mostly “fit and finish” improvements, like menu format consistency.

UPDATE 3 p.m. ET – Microsoft says it is “unable to accommodate my request” for a comment.

Most critically, it’s important that you know the Windows 10 update may be coming to a computer near you soon.  When the Blue Screen of Update takes over your machine, hopefully, this story will soothe your frayed nerves a bit.

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About Bob Sullivan 1179 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

1 Comment

  1. Got this same message on my computer and thought like many users that this was some kind of ransom ware. It did not ask me if I want to update but instead it disabled my keyboard and mouse so that I was helpless to do anything. So, I did what most people did and powered my computer down. Every time I brought the computer up it had that same message, so my husband finally let it run. The next morning my computer came up but minus all programs and I mean all. We took the computer into the Geek Squad and got in line with about a dozen other people who all had the same problem. Now I am having to put out #200.00 to have this problem fixed. A class action suite should be brought up against this company for doing such a thing to many of your users. I very unhappy with you and your employees who thought of this and feel like it was very incentive way to present your updates, since the updates have been occurring when you power down your computer and tells you to leave it on and it will shut down by itself. I learned that by shutting down my computer it corrupted all the files.

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