|Blue Screen of Death|
|Release Date||August 24th, 1995|
|Last Stable Release||v. 1.0 (August 24th, 1995)|
|Platform(s)||Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows ME, Windows 2000... (See complete listing.)|
|Support status||currently active|
The Blue Screen of Death (also known as "Blue Screen of Fun" and "Phatul Exception: The WRECKening") is a game developed by Microsoft wherein the screen simulates a "system error" and displays a series of nonsensical hexidecimal codes which are supposed to mean something. Since its inception in 1995, BSOD has maintained its position as the most played computer game ever, and is a cornerstone of the Microsoft Czarist Totalitarianism.
In July of 1994, With the highly anticipated release of Windows 95 still over a year away, Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi had a vision of adding a new game to the still-hypothetical operating system. He decided to include a highly conceptional game which (differing from Microsoft mainstays like Solitaire, Minesweeper and Failing A Network Connection) would actually decide itself when it was to be played.
Years later in an MSNBC interview, Simonyi recalled that the game was "a bit like a Russian Reversal" in which "the game, as if it were played in Soviet Russia, is more like the game you're playing is you... are... the game is you... are playing... These are more difficult to tell than I had thought."
Later in the interview, Simonyi admitted that his decision to include the game in the Operating System was fueled not by a desire for more innovative gameplay, but simply to prove that in a corporation with 70,000 employees, Bill Gates does not make each decision the public finds unpalatable.
Building The Game
In the year leading up to the release of Windows 95, Simonyi toiled to get his dream released. In the first six months, he divided his time between sleeping, taking vacations, collecting massive paychecks, worrying about being "too rich", donating several thousand dollars to a random charity, spending several weeks demanding recognition for said donation, yelling at the TV whenever a rich Russian got into space, correcting mispronunciations of his last name, and living a far, far more extraordinary life than you ever will. Then, via e-mail, he told his assistant to hire some guys.
The newly formed group of programmers (unofficially dubbed "Inadvertant Games", but who have been given other monickers far too impolite to publish here) set about to fulfill Simonyi's dream. And another six months and 46,000 kernel add-ons later, the game was revealed to the public.
The initial reception to the BSOD was far greater than expected by Microsoft market analysts and freelance Wired "journalists". The Beaureu of Convenient But Factually Replete Statistics (BCBFRS) estimates that exactly 250,000 Windows users played at least 6 non-concurrent games of BSOD within a week of purchasing the system, and that another 140,000 users played the game in the middle of system installation. As news of the popularity of the game spread through the Microsoft offices, developers were quick to release patches to the public which varied the frequency of BSOD games, as well as the hexidecimal error messages contained within them.
Windows 98: A New Way To BSOD
Despite the frequency with which these patches were released, Windows users finding themselves hungry for more opportunities to play BSOD, and the some of the later patches released actually had users playing the game less. It occured, to one of Simonyi's assistants, that a new operating system would have to be made to fill this need.
It so happens that meanwhile, Microsoft's Chief Media Analyst Pølski Fakenameovich was also lobbying for a new Windows release. Fakenameovich, relying heavily on data from the BCBFRS, believed that the public was clammoring for a new Windows operating system, and so delivered a rousing speech to Microsoft Executives' administrative assistants. "What the public needs, he theorized, "is an Operating System which looks like Windows 95... but which performs like Windows 95." But despite his strong words, exaggerated hand gestures, and promise of free drinks (bottom or mid shelf only) to anyone who listened to his full speech, the speech fell on deaf ears. It also fell on the ears of people in the room who could hear, because they were more cautious than Ernie around bottle rockets. Disheartened but resolute, Fakenameovich continued his work, until a chance meeting changed his life forever.
The chance meeting alluded to
Before creating an akward scene by an "accidental" breast grope, Fakenameovich confided in Simonyi's assistant his difficulties with the current Windows operating system, and she mentioned that Simonyi too was having reservations about Windows 95, or that at least she perceived that he was, since he had complained that he was four strokes over par the previous week, and couldn't figure out what was screwing his game up.
Emoldened by the news and half-numb from the slap he had just received, Fakenameovich furiously typed out an e-mail to the uncomely Microsoft executive. He reiterated the words exchanged (mostly) between himself and Simonyi's assistant and addressed his belief in a need for a completely new operating system which was totally the same. A week later, Fakenameovich got his response:
I'm in Bali. Do whatever the fuck you want.
With that, Fakenameovich teamed up with the Inadvertant Games group and the project was underway.
BSOD IntegrationThe integration between Windows 95 and the Blue Screen of Death was heralded by Rolling Stone Magazine's Greil Marcus as "a seamless integration between operating system, and game which the operating system has commanded I play" in an issue which also heralded the movie as Evita as "not that bad", but they were right about the former. The handling of BSOD on Windows 98 is widely viewed as "the best" yet, and in 1999 BSOD was even more widely played by computer users everywhere.
Windows 2000 & Beyond
The release of Windows 2000 marked a slowing in development for BSOD. With the rise of the internet, Windows users were now tempted to cheat, and find out what the fatal exception error hexidecimals meant, and with this wealth of information began the Great Numberology Depression of 2001. BSOD was being phased out in favor of Windows 2000's newly packaged game: Security Flaws, and Windows XP's blockbuster sequel Click the X on the speech bubble that comes out of the Start Bar. However, new technolgy, old software, and the proliferation of blinking lights assures that BSOD's history has yet to be written.
How To Play BSOD
The rules for BSOD are elegantly simple. To begin the game, simply use your computer. You may try to use BSOD-enhancing applications like The Sims or Half Life 2, but most users prefer to start the process by creating a long Microsoft Word document. If you like, you can even just let your computer remain dormant for a while. Whatever you choose, BSOD will decide when it's time to be played.
Once you see the screen, the game has begun, and that means you win! Upon winning, BSOD players are expected to make the customary chant "Shit!" before staring at the screen with their head in their hands and try to remember the last time they saved. More rambunctious players (known as "BSOD hooligans" in the UK) have been known to smash their monitors and computer cases in misdirected excitement.
Some users have found themselves confused at BSOD's "instant win architecture", and the appearance of "options" on the screen itself. The options are actually a façade, meant to appeal to users familiar with games like Zork and who crave interaction in their interactive games. The first option given, "press any key to terminate the current application", is there for appearances only, as pressing the spacebar to terminate the current application only paves the way for the user to press the spacebar 50 more times in frustration. The second option, "Press CTRL+ALT+DEL again to restart your computer [something about losing data]", is actually the only correct and viable option, unless that doesn't work, in which case users are encouraged to use the Power Button Game Accessory packaged with many computers.
Nearly Complete List of BSOD Platforms
Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows ME, Windows 2000, whatever that "Vista" thing is, ReactOS Xbox, Xbox 360, Windows CE, a bunch of payphones, electronic ticket counters, any other computers in airports, some ATMs, McDonald's cash registers, lots of other cash registers, those stupid music stations in record stores which never have anything good on them, computer operated billboards (!?), automated checkouts, and in Las Vegas: Everywhere.