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Patch Tuesday Update Crashes XP Users’ Parade

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One of the bug fixes released on February’s Patch Tuesday event this week may be causing some Windows XP users serious problems, including repeated reboots and the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” (BSoD).

The patch, which several reports have fingered as the cause of the problem, is numbered MS10-015. It is meant to fix a recently revealed vulnerability in Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows that dates back some 17 years.

An undetermined number of users were faced with the crashes immediately after installing the update. By Thursday morning, frustrated users were complaining on multiple online forums, including Microsoft’s own.

On Microsoft’s forums, users had lodged 157 entries and nearly 17,000 views by early Thursday afternoon relating to the problem.

“After installing today’s update 02/09/10 I now get the BSoD PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA 0x00000050,” said one user, who goes by the screen name Sacdan69. “This has happened to both my wife’s computer and my nephew’s.”

“After installing Windows Update 2 hours ago on 2/09/2010, I restarted my laptop [and] got the bluescreen. When I try to start in Safe Mode, it freezes on the Safe Mode startup screen. I cannot start my computer at all. Please help,” said another user posting with the handle Brownca88.

The early phase of the hubbub over the crashes and BSoDs was first spotted by security blogger Brian Krebs early Thursday.

February’s Patch Tuesday bug fix drop, so named because on the second Tuesday of every month, Microsoft releases all, or most, of the fixes it will release each month, was chock-a-block with patches anyway. It included 13 patches fixing a total of 26 individual bugs.

To further complicate things, netbook computers running XP, the most popular operating system for netbooks, do not have optical drives, so providing a fix for those users is problematic.

This is the second time in the past two weeks that an update to Windows caused system crashes for some users. One of several non-security “stability and reliability” updates released in late January caused crashes for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2).

Company officials acknowledged the latest problems.

“Microsoft is investigating reports of an installation issue with a security update released on Feb. 9, 2010. We are investigating the issue to determine the cause of the issue,” Jerry Bryant, senior security communications manager lead, said in an e-mail to

Bryant also offered free help to anyone believed to have been affected, urging users to contact Microsoft tech support for assistance.

Users in the U.S. can reach Microsoft consumer technical support here or can call in on the company’s PC Safety hotline at 1-866-727-2338 (PCSAFETY). International users can find contact numbers here.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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