A General Protection Fault is nothing more mysterious or complex than a program attempting to access a region of memory outside of that which is permitted by the Operating System. When a program misbehaves in this way under UNIX, the OS usually signals the fact that it's terminating the offending program by yelling "Segmentation fault". Windows would rather call this a GPF: different terminology, same problem.

Where the GPF has been caused by a third-party piece of software, this is no more an indication of a problem with Windows than when you receive a segfault from Netscape on a UNIX machine. Unfortunately, due to Microsoft's very tight integration of non-kernel features with the Windows kernel (Internet Explorer being the prime example), situations can arise where the Windows kernel itself can be affected by this kind of memory error. In this situation Windows may hang, give the famous Blue Screen of Death or behave unpredictably in other ways.

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