Microsoft releases update to disable Intel's faulty Spectre patch

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"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 company said at the time.

Intel warned that the latest Spectre updates caused "higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior" and added that this could often lead to "data loss or corruption". "In our testing this new update has been found to prevent the behaviour described", Microsoft said.

Spectre and Meltdown are vulnerabilities in modern chip design that could allow attackers to bypass system protections on almost every recent PC, server and smartphone-allowing hackers to read sensitive information, such as passwords, from memory.

The matter got out of hands after Intel's Spectre variant 2 mitigation started causing instability (random reboots) on some Windows computers.

Microsoft is releasing another out of band emergency patch to Windows users. Given the second variant of the Spectre flaw is not easily exploited by hackers, having a machine that doesn't crash randomly is probably a safer bet than using a buggy processor patch. Big companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft were ready fairly quickly, but other companies were scrambling to fix or somehow mitigate the flaws.

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The weekend release was Microsoft's response to an announcement seven days ago by Intel, which told customers of all stripes - from computer makers to end users - to stop deploying the firmware updates it had offered after disclosures of the Spectre and Meltdown flaws.

Microsoft says that update will cover Windows 7 (SP1), Windows 8.1, and all versions of Windows 10. The update can be downloaded from the Microsoft Update Catalog, while advanced users can manually disable the mitigation causing the issues independently via registry setting changes.

An Intel spokesperson said that the company was unable to notify others, including the U.S. government, as the bugs were made public earlier than the decided date which was January 9. The company is scrambling to address these issues and avoid any legal action, but in the process have caused more problems than they've fixed.

Mind you, disabling Intel's fix means that you'd be vulnerable to attacks targeting the Spectre variant 2 hardware issue. Earlier reports claimed Intel is having being warned of the flaws by Google late past year itself though it came to be known to all in early January.

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