Microsoft Patches 17-Year-Old Bug, But Fix May Crash Systems

A few weeks back, Microsoft confirmed the existence of a 17-year-old bug in all 32-bit versions of Windows that could, under certain circumstances, be used to gain control of a system. The flaw's usefulness was limited, since anyone with administrative access to a system probably doesn't need a hack to gain control of it, but Redmond issued a patch (KB977165) anyway.

Unfortunately, Microsoft may have traded a bit of embarassment over the continued existence of such an old problem for a full-on facepalm. After the company released its latest set of security patches on Tuesday, Windows XP users began complaining that the update crashes their systems. Attempting to boot, either normally or in safe mode, reportedly causes BSODs; the appropriate forum thread is located here.

Not pictured:  Picard's netbook.

Microsoft has already identified a potential work-around, but the fix requires that the customer have access to the Windows XP Recovery Console. This, in turn, requires a Windows XP disc, but the vast majority of netbook vendors don't actually ship XP discs with their systems. Those of you without access to this rather important bit of media will presumably need to wait for additional repair information or resign yourself to reinstalling from scratch.

We at Hot Hardware would like to note that this issue does not affect all Windows XP systems that are patched with KB977165. It just so happens that we've got a system handy with an absolutely fresh install of XP SP3 that had been fully patched as of Sunday. We downloaded KB977165, ran it, and the system rebooted with no trouble whatsoever. This may be cold comfort to anyone sitting on a useless netbook at the moment, but whatever it is that is causing the BSODs, it's not universal.