Ballmer wrote the blue screen of death

Steve BallmerNow that he has gone, Microsoftys are telling tales about the shy and retiring former CEO Steve Ballmer.

It now appears that the much feared Blue Screen of Death was Ballmer’s contribution to the Windows franchise.  Some people’s writings create a sense of awe in the reader, but few can actually say that something they had written had created such anger and loathing as the blue screen of death.

According to this posting on the MSDN blog  one of the differences between standard-mode Windows and enhanced-mode Windows was what happened when you hit Ctrl+Alt+Del. Since 16-bit Windows applications are co-operatively multi-tasked, it is easy to determine whether the system is responding, and if not, it is also easy to identify the application which is responsible. In that case, Windows gave you options to close the non-responsive application, restart the computer, or cancel.

Ballmer was head of the Systems Division and the time and thought he would pop in on the Windows team to see what they were hatching up.

When they showed him the Ctrl+Alt+Del feature, he nodded thoughtfully and added: “This is nice, but I don’t like the text of the message. It doesn’t sound right to me.”

He offered to come up with something better and a few days later he emailed back what he thought the Ctrl+Alt+Del screen should say.

If only that legendary prose and hands-on control hand been on board for Windows 8 where a demob happy Ballmer was not involved at all.

According to insiders, Ballmer offered no direction to the Windows 8 team on the features of the new user interface. Windows president Steven Sinofsky kept him informed of the team’s progress, but Ballmer met with Larson-Green only twice during the development process, and he never got together with the team to green-light the design.