In many computeroperating systems, a special type of error message will display onscreen when the system has experienced a fatal error. Computer users have dubbed these messages screens of death as they typically result in unsaved work being lost and often indicate serious problems with the system's hardware or software. Screens of death are usually the result of a kernel panic, although the terms are frequently used interchangeably. Most screens of death are displayed on an even background color with a message advising the user to restart the computer.
The Grey Screen of Death (also called GSoD) appears on the Microsoft Surface RT following a Windows Update in May 2015. The device will regularly fail to resume and instead will simply enable the screen back-light, giving the screen a grey appearance.
The Purple Screen of Death (also called PSoD) is used by VMware ESX Server, a server virtualization product by VMware, Inc. It is displayed in the event of a fatal kernel error. The screen provides error codes that can be used for debugging purposes. It also appears on a Nintendo DS when the cartridge is removed while playing the built-in application Pictochat, but appears to be more of a developer oversight than a genuine error message.
A kernel panic is used primarily by Unix and Unix-like operating systems: the Unix equivalent of Microsoft's Blue Screen of Death. It is a routine called when the kernel detects irrecoverable errors in runtime correctness; in other words, when continued operation may risk escalating system instability, and a system reboot is easier than attempted recovery.
A Sad Mac is a symbol used by older-generation Apple Macintosh computers, starting with the original Macintosh 128K, to indicate a severe hardware or software problem that prevented startup from occurring successfully. A similar symbol exists for the iPod.
The following refers to screens of death that are not based upon computer operating systems and appear instead in other media.
A White Screen of Death (also called WSoD) appears on several other operating systems, CMS and BIOSes. The most famous one is in iOS 7, and the screen of death appears when a white iPhone 5 or later or a white iPod touch (5th generation) is frozen. Everything on the screen goes white, and a black Apple logo is all that's displayed on the screen.
A Yellow Screen of Death (also called YSoD) occurs when an ASP.NET web application encounters a problem and crashes. It also appears on the browser Mozilla Firefox when there are errors in reading the .xml web format.
A White Window of Death (WWoD) occurs on computers running Windows 3x or an operating system from the Windows 9x family. It typically occurs when Windows Explorer is corrupted, or when the computer runs out of memory to continue carrying out even the most basic of functions.
A Green Screen of Death (also called GSoD) is a green screen that appears on a TiVo with a message that includes the words "a severe error has occurred". Its appearance often means that the hard drive of the device has failed. It also appears on the game consoles NES and Xbox 360 when the startup fails.