back to article Windows 10 debuts Blue QR Code of Death – and why malware will love it

Microsoft has added a QR code to its infamous Blue Screen of Death in Windows 10. As of Windows 10 Insider Preview build 14316, when the operating system falls over, you get not only the sad ASCII smiley but also a QR square that contains an encoded URL that leads you to a webpage about your problem. Scan it with a smartphone …

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  1. Michael Thibault

    What will make this work

    (for large values of "work") is that Windows users will likely think 'ah, M$ has finally got it right and gone all modern, and when that link is followed, there will be a pot of informational gold at the end of it'.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: What will make this work

      Download the Micros0ft Windows 10 diagnostic app for Android. To install, simply go to settings and allow installation from all sources (this is necessary to install Windows apps) and then tap Install...

      1. Bob Vistakin
        Facepalm

        Re: What will make this work

        Ahh ... I see where this is going. All those billions of blue screens need an Android device, you say? Will the app be paid for, or just show ads?

        1. RyokuMas Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: What will make this work

          God, I hope not. The telemetry in Windows 10 alone is bad enough without adding Google's big brother to it.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: What will make this work

        Download the Micros0ft Windows 10 diagnostic app for Android"

        Actually, this would be a very handy tool that would mean the blue screen QR code only needs to contain an error code and such information - in fact it could be a series of QR codes. The Win diag app would then control the web interaction, making it harder to fake the blue screen etc...

        Obviously, versions for iOS etc. would also be useful.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: What will make this work

          in fact it could be a series of QR codes.

          Sure. And what will stop a fake crash screen to display a malware URL anyway instead of just crash diagnostic codes? What percentage of users (that have an Android with the app installed in the first place) will fire up that app first to let it grab the codes, instead of blindly pointing it at the screen and tapping the 'go fetch' button?

          It doesn't matter that the QR from a genuine crash shows diagnostic codes only, it matters what a fake crash displays and how users deal with that.

      3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: What will make this work

        Download the Micros0ft Windows 10 diagnostic app for Android

        Since I have installed this, I get offers from Nigerian princes and my compromising family photos are being used on /b/. How can I stop this?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What will make this work

      "and why malware will love it"

      Presumably because the devices you point at it will mostly be running Android or IOS and will be exploited by sending them to a target webpage.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This would spoil the fun of trying to grab the error code on a Windows blue screen, which only flashes up for 500ms. Pre-digital camera era.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Windows

      >This would spoil the fun of trying to grab the error code on a Windows blue screen, which only flashes up for 500ms. Pre-digital camera era.

      Disable automatic restart on BSOD, simple, I always do ... I know MS tries to hide these from the user, but it does not really help, does it?

      My fav has always been "Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer." Now, if Windows damages computers, why do 99.99% of computers on the market come with it pre-installed ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Disable automatic restart on BSOD, simple, I always do ... I know MS tries to hide these from the user, but it does not really help, does it?"

        It helps a lot on a remote server where the BSOD may have been a one-off and you want the thing to start back up on it's own. A lot of servers may not even have monitors attached.

        Did always wonder why there wasn't the option to restart automatically after say 60 seconds.. but I guess you can achieve the same result by asking it to do a full dump.

        1. Duffaboy
          FAIL

          Disable automatic restart on BSOD

          Yes and how many images do you see this done on ?

      2. OrangeDog

        "to prevent damage to your computer"

        All (good) systems do this, just with more technical messages about why exactly damage would occur otherwise.

      3. el_oscuro

        Why not write the code to the hard drive?

        Maybe have a small diagnostic partition. Of course if the hard drive shits the bed, this won't work. But if it is one of the more common BSODs, it should be able to write to it fine. And by being on a separate partition, it shouldn't hose the filesystem.

        As for the servers, maybe have the screen flash for, say 1 minute? That way it gives you time to get the code while still allowing headless servers to reboot.

    2. Doctor_Wibble
      Trollface

      Wait while I find my camera

      I only have an old instamatic, let me get a picture, send it off, wait for the print, scan it, run it through the QR-reader software, visit the URL, run the reader software again because this has to be a wind-up, surely they would not have a web page that just said "err=unknown_driver_fail please uninstall the driver for Unknown Device" and nothing else...?

      Or maybe I could take a shortcut around this whole insane process and use tracing paper and scan that instead?

      Actually it doesn't seem like a bad idea, I just have no faith that the page you end up at will be of any use whatsoever and will simply add a delay and another swearing session before you swear and format and reinstall like you were going to do anyway. (admittedly I never entirely understood the logic of those who always did this)

      1. AndrewDu

        Re: Wait while I find my camera

        "surely they would not have a web page that just said "err=unknown_driver_fail please uninstall the driver for Unknown Device" and nothing else...?"

        Oh, yes they would!

        Reminds me of the old IBM error messages that used to say something like "Error 10042fcd occurred" and you thought oh goodie that's nice and specific, the big blue book will tell me what's wrong. So you got out the big blue book and looked at the list of error codes, and the numbers jumped from 10042fc7 to 10042fe0 or something like that. Gah! Foiled again, curse you, Red Baron!

    3. Fuzz

      dump

      that's what the dump is for

      1. Darryl

        Re: that's what the dump is for

        I thought it was to fill up the old 60 gig hard drives so that people ran out to buy bigger ones?

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: dump

        "that's what the dump is for"

        Dumping the Windows PC?

        Seems a bit harsh on the hardware...

    4. TheVogon Silver badge

      " trying to grab the error code on a Windows blue screen, which only flashes up for 500ms"

      It's likely in the event log. Also the code is usually displayed for a few seconds as the OS will complete a crash dump before rebooting.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Meh

        "...the OS will complete a crash dump before rebooting"

        And when it doesn't reboot?

  3. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    Wot, no Microsoft Tag?

    But seriously, El Reg is right - terrible idea that WILL be exploited in exactly the manner described.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Penguin

    Why not just use the Linux method, and just don't crash ever?

    1. Filippo

      Re: Penguin

      In the past 10 years or so, every BSOD on my Windows machines was either because of faulty hardware, or because of dodgy uncertified drivers.

      1. Adam Jarvis

        Re: Penguin

        Yes. but the cryptic blue screen message meant the average user hadn't a clue it was a hardware problem or driver problem. Windows is still shit at explaining the difference.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Windows is still shit at explaining the difference.

          So true. So come on, own up. Which fanboi downvoted this?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Penguin

          "the cryptic blue screen message meant the average user hadn't a clue it was a hardware problem or driver problem."

          The crash codes are easily Binged if you don't know what they mean.

          1. 404 Silver badge

            Re: Penguin

            Binged? BINGED? GTFO! That way ->

            1. Dwarf Silver badge

              Re: Penguin

              Now we know who the Microsoft employees's are :-)

              Nobody else would admit to using bing !

              1. cambsukguy

                Re: Penguin

                > Nobody else would admit to using Bing !

                Yes they would, I typed a film name in Google, told me it was on at a cinema 20 miles away.

                Typed the name in Bing, show times for my local cinema, 1 mile and the next one, 8 miles.

                Also a link to a trailer that wasn't some scam trailer forcing me to dump it and keep looking in the YouTube nightmare.

                Very damn useful, anything that stops one needing to operate within YT is useful to me.

                1. Bob Vistakin
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Penguin

                  @cambsuguy One word: torsorophy. Try searching for it, using a search engine.

              2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: Penguin

                Never mind admit... No one else would even bother to try.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Penguin

              "Binged? BINGED? GTFO! That way ->"

              You could go Google it instead and get targeted by adverts from privacy invading analysis of your personal emails...

          2. BurnT'offering

            Re: The crash codes are easily Binged

            I can get drunk on them? Tell me more!

          3. Afernie

            Re: Penguin

            "The crash codes are easily Binged if you don't know what they mean."

            Hi there TheVogon. Still the only living human to advocate Bing as a search engine, I see.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Penguin

        In the last 20 years every crash (since NT4 release) has been faulty hardware, or rubbish graphics driver or rubbish printer driver.

        1. Hans 1 Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Penguin

          >In the last 20 years every crash (since NT4 release) has been faulty hardware, or rubbish graphics driver or rubbish printer driver.

          Rubbish Windows ecosystem, then.

        2. pAnoNymous

          Re: Penguin

          Didn't use Windows ME then?

          There's plenty of BSOD hotfixes so not sure about that, although I'm sure it's true for a large number (I would add Network Card drivers to that).

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Penguin

      When trying out a recent Ubuntu, I got it to kernel panic simply by trying to run Firefox. Quirk? Bad luck? I don't know, but it didn't impress me...

      1. ATeal

        Re: Penguin

        Or fiction...

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Penguin

        I had a similar issue trying to get Kubuntu (the version of Ubuntu with the KDE desktop) 15.10 to work . The installer kept crashing before the installation was complete. It took a lot of tries, but it finally finished installing.

        Twenty seconds or so after booting, it would either stop responding to the keyboard and mouse clicks or go into a full kernel panic (if you thought the XP/Vista/7 BSOD was bad, try the Linux version). It failed in one of these two ways every time, whether I booted from the installation USB drive or from the boot device (SSD).

        So much for the vaunted "never crashes" Linux.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Penguin

          I was given a pc a couple of years ago, the owner was that fed up of win7 and win8 crashing on him he was going to have a ceremonial burning in the garden. I rescued it and installed ubuntu, it would be fine for days then crash, reinstall, rinse, repeat. Eventually i tracked down the fault to a dodgy sata cable. So for the cost of a 3 quid cable i've now got a shiny stable workstation. The original owner spent 800 quid on a new pc... Which crashes, reinstall ...

          Crap hardware will crash anything, windows, linux, MSDOS 1.1ish (my first OS , them wer't days).

          1. ADRM

            Red SATA Cables

            Just as a matter of interest was it a red generic SATA cable with no locking mechanism and straight connectors either end? I have had nothing but issues with them. Drive read errors, drives disappearing. My systems have been purged of them and replaced with locking quality cables. A crap SATA cable is something easily overlooked but is a cause of random crashing especially if the system drive cable is bad intermittently.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Firefox on Ubuntu

        Ubuntu runs Firefox just fine. You think if it didn't, no one would have noticed? Your fault finding doesn't impress me

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Firefox on Ubuntu

          It might not run with a certain combination of motherboard, graphics card, and graphics drivers.

          Sorry for the blasphemy and all that.

          1. RegGuy1

            Re: Firefox on Ubuntu

            Have you tried plugging the graphics card INTO the motherboard?

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Firefox on Ubuntu

          "Ubuntu runs Firefox just fine. You think if it didn't, no one would have noticed? Your fault finding doesn't impress me"

          Way back, when Ubuntu first went to Upstart, it became more difficult to diagnose incompatibilities between H/W & drivers or config settings. It was that issue with regard to graphics that pushed me off Ubuntu onto Debian. Of course when Debian Wheezy goes out of LTS and it's wall-to-wall systemd that particular solution will have been lost.

          So I believe the OP. "Works for me" is not an example of skilled fault finding but unfortunately it always seemed to be the staple of a few voluble Linux fan-boys.

        3. cambsukguy

          Re: Firefox on Ubuntu

          By that logic, Windows runs just fine too.

      4. Hans 1 Silver badge

        Re: Penguin

        >When trying out a recent Ubuntu, I got it to kernel panic simply by trying to run Firefox.

        Not possible, the kernel panic cannot be related to firefox, it just happened at exactly that moment ... it must have been something else, did you compile the kernel yourself ?

        I have never seen Linux throw a kernel panic outside of boot phase, and then, the last one I saw was related to a dodgy sound driver, that I compiled. The one before that was in 2001, and I use Linux daily, since at least 1999 on laptops, desktops, etc...

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