Our computers have always been victims of various and varied malfunctions, obviously with hardware side failures, but also crashes, freezes and other untimely restarts often caused by viruses and other malicious programs. A few years ago, it wasn’t some malware that mysteriously caused laptop hard drives to capsize, but… a song.
Some computers allergic… to Janet Jackson?
Indeed, via an official blog post, Microsoft returned to an incident that was surprising to say the least. Some manufacturers had reported to the American giant that their computers (under Windows XP) had a tendency to crash when the user listened to the title “Rhythm Nation” by Janet Jackson (launched in 1989). Not only was the laptop PC issuing the title quickly in trouble, but so were neighboring computers as well.
Here’s our first video from our new series with Raymond Chen, @ChenCravat.
We asked him to tell us about the mystery wherein some music would crash a laptop!!?? pic.twitter.com/BRgfsWEaaC
—Windows Dev Docs (@WindowsDocs) August 12, 2022
The investigation then carried out by Microsoft and its partners quickly led to the conclusion that the title signed Janet Jackson emitted very specific frequencies, able to bring into resonance the 5400 rpm hard drive which then equipped many computers. The waves emitted by the loudspeakers then caused the hard disk to vibrate unexpectedly, which immediately caused the machine to crash.
On the side of the manufacturers, we ended up finding a solution to this problem by adding a personalized audio filter, in order to detect (and especially to remove) the frequencies in question. This, however, did not completely solve the problem, as the hard drives of these laptops were susceptible to failure if exposed to another device, playing the song in question.
Note that this goes back a few years already, since Microsoft teams are referring to laptops running Windows XP, in the mid-2000s. Moreover, in all likelihood, the problem was closely related to the hard drive itself. . Therefore, if the story was reported by someone working at the time for Windows XP support, the crash was indeed able to occur on any OS.