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When Windows Pageant starts up, it checks whether an instance of
itself is already running. If so, then it acts as a client to the
existing instance, and then shuts down. (This way, you can run a
command like '
pageant mykey.ppk' from a shortcut, and the
key will be added to your existing Pageant if one is running, rather
than starting a second Pageant server which will fight with it.)
But that check was not adequately protected against two Pageants starting up at exactly the same time. This could happen, for example, if you put shortcuts to two or more private key files in your Windows startup folder (with Pageant configured as the handler for that file extension), so that Windows would launch them simultaneously.
For 0.77, this has been fixed to use the same mutex mechanism that PuTTY's connection sharing uses to atomically decide which PuTTY is upstream and which are the downstreams. So now, the simultaneously started Pageants should reliably agree on one of themselves to be the server, and the rest should add their keys to it.