Steve Ballmer Wrote The BSOD, So Stop Slacking Off

Even when you’re the boss, it sometimes pays to muck in and make changes yourself.

Image: Edouard

If you’re a Windows user, the chances are pretty high that you’ve spent some time staring at the Blue Screen Of Death, or BSOD to its friends, of which at last count it had approximately none.

It’s also what was used for earlier versions of Windows when a single application crashed and you hit CTRL-ALT-DEL to make it stop. Somebody had to write the text that appears when that occurs. As it happens, the text you read when that happened was the brainchild of one particular Microsoft employee.

Yeah, you’ve read the headline, so you know that was Steve Ballmer.

As Microsoft Developer Raymond Chen tells it, Ballmer was notably unhappy not with the functionality, but with the prose used when errors happened. “This is nice, but I don’t like the text of the message. It doesn’t sound right to me”, he reportedly said.

So the team challenged him to do better, and so he did, writing the text that went into the screen himself.

The practical upshot? You might be the head of a major division (as Ballmer was at the time) and a future CEO, but sometimes if you want things done a certain way, you’re going to have to do them yourself.

Who wrote the text for the Ctrl+Alt+Del dialog in Windows 3.1? [The Old New Thing via The Verge]

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