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Steve Ballmer wrote Windows' first Ctrl-Alt-Delete message (updated)

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 7, 2014
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Whether Microsoft likes it or not, Windows' blue screen messages are iconic -- they're universal signs that something really bad has happened to your software. But who wrote the original Ctrl-Alt-Delete message that would grace the screens of sick PCs worldwide? None other than Steve Ballmer, according to company veteran Raymond Chen. The executive (then in charge of the Systems Division) reportedly didn't like the text that engineers first wrote, and took up a challenge to write better material himself. As it turns out, Ballmer did a good enough job that his version made it into the shipping product "pretty much word for word." The message has long since changed and isn't nearly as much of an issue on modern computers, but it's fun to think that the owner of the LA Clippers is also responsible for an app crash alert seen by millions of people.

Update: Chen has since updated his story to emphasize that this is the Ctrl-Alt-Delete screen, not the infamous BSOD; the two just look pretty similar. We've tweaked our story accordingly.

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