Bug in software used by businesses caused some Windows XP-based machines to crash repeatedly with a “blue screen of death.”

by Steven Musil

A recent update to Symantec’s antivirus software rendered some Windows-based PCs inoperable, the security software maker disclosed Friday.

An update earlier this week to Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1 antivirus software for businesses caused some Windows XP-based computers to crash repeatedly with a “blue screen of death,” the company revealed on its Web site.

“On July 11th, 2012 Symantec Security Response started receiving reports of customers experiencing blue screens after applying the July 11th revision 18 definitions,” Orla Cox, of Symantec Security Response, wrote in the post. “Machines may continue to blue screen after they reboot. This problem only appears to occur on Windows XP machines.”

In an update, the company said the crashes were limited to XP machines running Endpoint Protection 12.1 and certain software from Norton. Once the cause was identified, Symantec issued a rollback of signatures on Thursday, the company said.

The company said it learned of the issue Wednesday night from customers, who said they were forced to manually remove the software from disabled machines, a process they described as time consuming.

One frustrated Symantec customer called the called the bug “a farce” in the accompanying community discussion board.

“This whole episode is a joke, had the issue been a conflict with a random device driver then I could maybe slightly more sympathetic,” the customer said. “But for it to conflict with its own Symantec related drivers and cause this issue is a total farce. Who tested it before release? Was it even tested?”

While some on the board said Symantec was working to compensate customers “for the hours of lost worker production and the time and effort taken by IT staffs to rectify this huge error by Symantec,” that was not the case.

“Although we are not providing compensation packages, we are working around the clock to provide information on remediation and technical support to help customers address this issue,” Symantec spokesperson Ellen Hayes told CNET. “This includes reaching out to customers directly to offer technical assistance who have posted comments to our online community seeking help.”



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