Steve Ballmer’s legacy: the Blue Screen of Death

The text of the original Blue Screen of Death in Windows is one of the most iconic messages in IT. Now, the author has been revealed as none other than former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Steve Ballmer's legacy: the Blue Screen of Death

The screen was prompted by an application that had crashed and gave the user three simple keyboard commands to choose from when it appeared: hit Escape to go back, Enter to close the application, or punch in the three-key command again to restart the computer.

According to Microsoft, the message was created during the development of Windows 3.1 when Ballmer, who was then head of the Systems Division, went to visit the Windows team to find out what they were doing.

They showed him the Ctrl+Alt+Del function, which he was impressed with, but he didn’t like the wording of the message itself.

“This is nice, but I don’t like the text of the message. It doesn’t sound right to me,” he allegedly said. So the engineers challenged him to do a better job of it.

And he did.

He sent the team an email some days later containing what he felt the BSoD message should say. When Windows 3.1 appeared, his proposed text appeared more or less verbatim in the final product.

Ballmer’s words met their demise with the advent of Windows 95, although their ghost lived on as a slightly modified message through to Windows ME.

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