In a blog post, Microsoft reports a funny anecdote that smacks of the early 2000s. The firm explains that at the time, a very particular song by Janet Jackson caused the hard drive of certain models of Windows laptops to crash. XP.
This is probably one of the most bizarre crashing patterns seen on laptops. In a blog post shared on August 16, Raymond Chen, an iconic Microsoft developer who has worked extensively on Windows and DirectX, reports that one of the biggest laptop PC makers discovered one hell of a bug in the early 2000s. Rhythm Nation” by Janet Jackson (released in 1989) had a strong propensity to crash some laptops equipped with hard drives and running Windows XP.
Raymond Chen explains that several other laptop manufacturers have subsequently reported similar observations to Microsoft, with this same piece. In this case, the song Rhythm Nation had the power to crash the laptop on which it was launched, but also other laptops located nearby. Witchcraft? No, a simple (and regrettable) matter of frequencies.
An amusing interference… But taken seriously by the authorities
« The song turned out to contain one of the natural resonant frequencies of the 5400 RPM laptop hard drive models used by this and other manufacturers. », explains Raymond Chen.
An effective patch was then applied in the form of a simple filter to erase harmful frequencies for the HDDs concerned. ” The manufacturer worked around the problem by adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline, to detect and remove the offending frequencies during audio playback », continues Raymond Chen.
Although the vast majority of current laptops are equipped with SSDs… and are therefore no longer vulnerable to this type of interference, the American authorities have nevertheless taken the risk of nuisance seriously. The flaw is indeed listed on the CVE database (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures). It must be said that government agency laptops are not necessarily always up-to-date and can therefore, at least in rare cases, still be affected by this strange vulnerability today.
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