Windows Users Receive Microcode Updates to Patch the Spectre Vulnerability


As the first Spectre microcode patches from Intel caused more frequent reboots and other instability problems, the company started releasing new updates.

"We have... been working closely with our antivirus partners on compatibility with Windows updates, resulting in the vast majority of Windows devices now having compatible AV software installed", Cable wrote.

PC owners have been waiting for these updates since early January when the Meltdown and Spectre flaws became public.

Though Intel's release covered Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, and Skylake platforms, Microsoft says its initial updates will only cover Skylake devices running the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Microsoft is pushing out another round of security updates to mitigate data-leaking Spectre side-channel vulnerabilities in modern Intel x64 chips. Microsoft says that more Intel microcode updates will be released as they're made available.

Unfortunately, Microsoft is not catering to those that aren't on Windows 10 version 1709, better known as the Fall Creators Update. It seems that Intel is piggybacking on Microsoft's distribution network to push Spectre patches where they need to be, and fast.

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This is an unusual move for Microsoft, which usually leaves OEMs to carry out their own update schedules. "Due to this potential risk, we require that AV software is up to date and compatible", he noted. Not all those who can get these essential security updates are getting them, however, and the reason is somewhat unexpected: Antivirus software may be stopping updates from applying.

MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED that it will help distribute Intel's firmware updates to protect Windows 10 systems against the Spectre CPU vulnerability.

In order to receive the update, the system must sport a specific registry key, and if it doesn't, customers will not receive Meltdown, Spectre, or any future Microsoft security updates. "We recommend users check with their AV provider on the compatibility of their installed AV software products".

It's worth noting two things here: First, a savvy user could drop the registry key in themselves, which is a very poor idea. Recently we added software coverage for x86 editions of Windows 10, and we continue to work to provide updates for other supported versions of Windows.

The key can be set up by compatible AV software or by users themselves (detailed information on how to do it is offered here).