Last night, just 48 hours after I'd installed it, I had my very first Windows 7 Blue Screen Of Death.
It may not have been the complete BSOD package, but the machine was thoroughly dead and the screen was blue: there was what may have been intended to be the traditional mystic hexadecimal runes of disaster on the screen, but they'd been scrambled into a cryptographic stew of white pixels. And it was making a most peculiar noise.
Just before this, I had been watching Carry On Spying on DVD - reaching the point where Kenneth Williams (in a fez) and Charles Hawtrey (as Beau Geste) were about to rush in on Barbara Windsor and Bernard Cribbins (both in belly-dancing outfits, both at imminent risk of violation from Eric Pohlmann, aka The Fat Man) in an Algerian bordello. A classic moment in British film, and Kenneth Williams was giving it his flared-nose hyper-camp all.
The exact point of silicon disaster hit as he was issuing a nasal vowel so elongated and swooping it fell from the sky like a roll of toilet paper thrown from the Kop. The screen blinked and went blue: the sound system locked into a death spasm, repeating 200 milliseconds of the audio ad infinitum. The death knell of Windows 7, I can report, sounds like this:
I enjoyed the moment, then reset the computer. The laptop, a by now rather venerable Sony Vaio, recovered at length: I replayed the scene, but all was well.
I think it's safe to blame Windows 7. The laptop had previously been running Vista for a couple of years - I try and use whatever MS' latest OS is daily, even though I hadn't warmed to Vista after all that time - and I'd performed an in-place upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate. (That took around four hours, but as I had the luck or foresight to kick that off on a Saturday morning before retiring back to bed for a long lie, I was as refreshed as the computer once it had completed.)
I was using the same application for DVD playback as I had for many DVDs before; there were no hardware changes or configuration fiddling beyond what had come in on the Windows 7 installation. I'd certainly never experienced a failure like that under Vista; although I had had a couple of catastrophic crashes, they happened when I was running beta software or messing around with peculiar hardware.
And so, pace Talbot Rothwell and the Pinewood posse, I fear we have to conclude that the longest running farce on the small screen has got some acts left to go before conclusion.