Windows 8 Has A Friendlier BSOD

Although I haven’t encountered it yet, having not yet installed the preview version of Windows 8, apparently, the BSOD remains, in a friendly incarnation.

Windows 8 Has A Friendlier Blue Screen Of Death | TechCrunch

I remember back in mid-2009, we had a similarly tongue-in-cheek Error 500 page for Connect. It had a cat. It had “internets”.  It was awesome.

Apparently, not everyone thought so, and someone complained to Paul (@ppedrazzi) about it. Unprofessional or something.

Rich (@rmanalan) and I shook our heads on this one given the nature of Connect as social app, not a mission-critical one, but we changed it to be more serious.

Error messaging is an under-served bit of UX/UI. Taking it too lightly can grate on your users, as at least one Tumblr user noted during their epic downtime in January:

The Oatmeal recently suggested a new Tumblr downtime mascot for instance, and it looks like Tumblr has adopted it as of the other day – a quick reaction – but should they really be spending their time doing this, as opposed to fixing the real issue? Are their priorities right?

There’s a big difference between a BSOD and a 404 or 500 on a web app.

I wonder if this will make it into the released version of Win 8.

Anyway, do flip or funny error messages bother you? Does it depend on how valuable the failing service or application is?

Find the comments.

Update: Upon further review, this is an informational improvement over the old BSOD. They’ve toned down the language, omitting scary words like “damage” and dumping nearly all the technical information, which only serves to confuse or scare the average user. I like it, even without the emoticon.




  1. Can we customise it..
    I want it to be RSCOD Red is more appropriate as I’ve probably lost a lot of stuff I was working on that didn’t autosave 😀

    Maybe with a devil picture or even Tux smiling telling me to install linux..

  2. Depends on the context. Language is important as it can offer empathy and reassurance about how to recover, but get it wrong and it’s just infuriating. Of course, it depends on what you were doing when the error happened, and how often you see it.

    I wonder about the language that MSFT use at times. They just don’t get away as easily with the jokey stuff as others might. Probably because we’re predisposed to what the organization stands for rather than the actual software functionality.

    I see they’re onto “charms” now with Win 8. in lucky, I suppose. Of course, they’re the ones who came up with Squirt too on the Zune. Wonder what the error message for a squirt is?

    Steve Ballmer: “I want to squirt you a picture of my kids. You want to squirt me back a video of your vacation. That’s a software experience.”

    No, that’s just wrong.

  3. I agree, generally, but it kinda depends on how serious the software is. ERP apps probably need something more somber, whereas consumer web apps can be funny.

    The biggest thing missing is good information and what to do about the failure. I think that’s the biggest gain (by subtraction) this BSOD has over the old one.

  4. Nice. It definitely depends, and as always, you have to know your user, which is why we were a bit confused about the Connect error page complaint. 

    Error pages need better information; that’s the biggest problem, not the tone.

  5. Was Twitter’s “fail whale” the first attempt at a non-serious error message? I remember the sad Mac icon from the 1980s, but that wasn’t necessarily cute.

    Even the fail whale – which, back when it first appeared, usually didn’t mean that an important work project was adversely impacted – tended to anger some people when it first appeared.

  6. Ah yes, sad Mac. That one didn’t appear very often, compared to the BSOD. The Fail Whale was probably the most recognizable flip error page, and as you say, people got pissed about it then.

    Errors need to be handled w better (not always more) information first.

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