Published: Wed, January 10, 2018
Research | By Francis Brooks

Microsoft pauses security patches as AMD customers report problems

Microsoft pauses security patches as AMD customers report problems

Last week the stock rose almost 20 percent as investors speculated AMD could wrest market share from Intel, whose chips are exposed to risks from possible Meltdown and Spectre attacks.

Microsoft, Intel and PC manufacturers are still dealing with the Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities these days, and contrary to Intel's reassuring statements from last week, the fixes will have a performance impact, especially on older PCs. Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group explains that the Windows 10 users with latest-generation silicon processors won't notice any performance difference after installing the Meltdown and Spectre patches. "After investigating, Microsoft has determined that some AMD chipsets do not conform to the documentation previously provided to Microsoft to develop the Windows operating system mitigations to protect against the chipset vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown". The software company has also fortified both Internet Explorer 11 and the Microsoft Edge browser against JavaScript exploits. Of the three variants, only the second requires a complementary microcode update on the host machine.

Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs powered by Haswell or older processors will see a "decrease in system performance" for "most users". Moreover, Myerson added that the software and firmware updates may also cause a "more significant performance impact" on servers.

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Meltdown and Spectre patches for Windows 10, 8.1 and 7 were shipped as a cumulative update with some other improvements. "That's why we've chosen to provide more context and information today and why we released updates and remediations as quickly as we could on January 3".

With Windows 10 on older silicon (2015-era PCs with Haswell or older CPU), some benchmarks show more significant slowdowns, and we expect that some users will notice a decrease in system performance. "Our commitment to delivering the technology you depend upon, and in optimizing performance where we can, continues around the clock and we will continue to communicate as we learn more". The post comes after representatives of the company declined to comment to GeekWire regarding the performance impact of the patches Monday, which are clearly affecting a swath of enterprise computing organizations.

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