Definition: Abbreviated as BSOD or BSoD, the Blue Screen of Death is the popularized name for what is technically called a STOP message or STOP error. It's the blue, full screen error that often displays after a serious system crash.
The text on the Blue Screen of Death may list any files involved in the crash including any drivers that may have been at fault and often a short, usually cryptic, description of what to do about the problem.
Beginning in Windows 8, the Blue Screen of Death color went from dark to light blue and, instead of several lines of mostly unhelpful information, there is now a basic explanation of what is happening alongside the suggestion to "search online later" for the STOP code listed.
If you can't find the STOP code in my list or are looking for some general troubleshooting information, see my How To Fix a Blue Screen of Death.
Important: By default, most Windows installations are programmed to automatically restart after a BSOD which makes reading the STOP error code nearly impossible.
Before you can do any troubleshooting you'll need to prevent this automatic reboot by disabling the automatic restart on system failure option in Windows.
Also Known As: BSOD, BSoD, STOP message, STOP error, system crash, kernel error, blue screen error
Examples: "I was typing a letter in a word processing program and suddenly got the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)! All I could do is restart my PC. Luckily I had just saved my document so it wasn't too serious."