If you really want to make Windows crash, it’s not that hard. Fire up Photoshop and resize an image by a billion per cent. Done. There are other ways that don’t require third-party software of course, thanks to bugs in the operating system’s core code and in the case of pre-Windows 10 platforms, the NT file system.
As Ars Technica’s Peter Bright explains, exploiting the bug is easy. Just try and open the following “file”:
OK, don’t actually do that if you’re running Vista, Windows 7 or 8.1.
Why does it make Windows blow up? Turns out
$MFT is to blame. It’s a hidden file containing metadata used by the file system and is usually protected from interference by the OS.
Except when you try and use it like a folder. Bright elaborates:
…the NTFS driver takes out a lock on the file and never releases it. Every subsequent operation sits around waiting for the lock to be released. Forever. This blocks any and all other attempts to access the file system, and so every program will start to hang, rendering the machine unusable until it is rebooted.
A more technical explanation of the bug can be found on Russian blog Habrahabr, which traces its origin all the way to the “NtfsCommonCreate” method of NTFS.
Apparently Microsoft knows about the bug. I’m sure a patch will materialise eventually.