When former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer officially bought the Los Angeles Clippers, many Twitter comedians used the opportunity to rebrand the team the “L.A. Clippies,” in honor of the much-loathed cartoon paperclip Office assistant that famously drove users crazy during Ballmer’s reign. However, it turns out that Ballmer was involved in developing something far more annoying to Windows users than even Clippy — that is, the Blue Screen of Death.
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What longtime Windows user can forget the panic that set in the first time their entire screen went blue for no explicable reason and was informed that “This Windows application has stopped responding to the system.” You were then given three options: “Press ESC to cancel and return to Windows,” “Press ENTER to close this application that is not responding. You will lose any unsaved information in this application,” and “Press CTRL+ALT+Del again to restart your computer. You will lose any unsaved information in all applications.”
Microsoft explains on its The Old New Thing blog that Ballmer was head of the Systems Division during the time that the Blue Screen of Death was being developed. While checking in on his team’s progress one day, Ballmer was apparently unhappy with the original text that Microsoft engineers came up with for the screen and he decided to write his own, which was pretty much word-for-word what appeared on the first version of the screen.
So let’s give a round of applause to Steve Ballmer: Clippy may not have been his doing but we can certainly lay blame for the Blue Screen of Death directly at his feet.