Microsoft releases Intel's Spectre and Meltdown microcode via Update Catalog


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

While Intel's microcode updates also cover Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake machines, along with Broadwell and Haswell processors, Microsoft is only hosting a fix for Skylake systems for now, with the promise that it will deliver "additional microcode updates from Intel as they become available to Microsoft".

Meltdown and Spectre Variant 1 can be addressed with software updates, however, Spectre Variant 2 requires microcode patches. Most devices should receive this class of updates directly from their device manufacturer. In a blog post announcing the release, John Cable, a Microsoft director, shed some light on the issues that have plagued previous attempts to patch both Spectre and Meltdown, specifically that in some cases the patches had compatibility issues with antivirus software. The fix being rolled out by Microsoft is only available through Microsoft Update Catalog (KB4090007) and won't be pushed out through Microsoft's Windows Update system. Until hardware fixes are in place for all processors that suffer from these vulnerabilities I expect Microsoft and other OS vendors will continue to patch as much as possible on the software side. Windows 10 KB4090007 offline installer is also available and it can be used to mitigate the vulnerabilities. Nearly every Broadwell and Haswell entry shows that updated firmware has reached "Production" status, which indicates that Intel has completed all the necessary validation steps and is now authorizing its partners and customers to apply the new firmware.

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Typically, patching Spectre and Meltdown mitigations have followed a traditional pattern: Microsoft patches Windows via Windows Update, antivirus companies like AVG have patched their antivirus software, and so on.

Intel recently developed these patches, and after testing with Windows 10, Microsoft is today finally releasing these updates. "The continued focus of our work with our AV partners and customers is to manage the risk of compatibility issues, especially those that result from AV software that makes unsupported calls into Windows kernel memory".