Windows 11 hack keeps your PC alive (sort of) after a Blue Screen of Death crash

Angry man screaming on laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock / ra2 studio)

A Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) in Windows 11 is when the PC locks up entirely, with no possible recourse – except to reboot there and then – unless you’ve hacked the operating system, that is.

Tom’s Hardware reports that NTDEV, the maker of Tiny11 (a lightweight version of Windows 11) flagged up on X (formerly Twitter) that NSG650 has a project on GitHub which is a driver that modifies the normal BSOD behavior, firing up a Linux emulator when a crash occurs.

In other words, instead of just having the option to reboot, you get a RISC-V Linux emulator popping up post-crash. How is this done? It leverages the bugcheck callback feature in Windows – which is part of the BSOD process, and allows for code to run after a crash – and in this case, the code inserted brings up the emulator.

Now, all the Linux emulator consists of is a basic command line (like the old days of DOS, just a text interface), and you can’t really do anything with it – it’s just showing what can be done (see the video clip below), rather than actually implementing anything useful.

Analysis: An opportunity for Microsoft?

With this methodology discovered, this raises the question that with some work, could something more advanced be concocted along these lines? Something that does allow you to do useful things after a BSOD, like plug in a USB drive and back up files, for example, if you’re worried they might be corrupted. Or maybe to run some kind of lightweight recovery utility.

Having seen this in action, though, it’s entirely possible Microsoft will patch this out, as it could be seen as a security risk in Windows 11 (and Windows 10 for that matter).

However, we can but hope that it might inspire Microsoft to look at doing something more useful, as mentioned, with the BSOD, and allowing at least some post-crash options, if indeed it’s possible to work anything meaningful in that way – which we don’t know, we should add.

For the moment, this little trick remains an interesting novelty, with a tantalizing possibility that it could become more than that in the future. Whatever the case, even if nothing happens along those lines, we think Microsoft could definitely improve BSODs in other ways – though if you happen to encounter one, at least we have a Blue Screen of Death survival guide.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).