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Microsoft withdraws Spectre and Meltdown patch that’s borking AMD machines

MICROSOFT HAS POINTED the finger of blame in the direction of AMD after update designed to protect against the recent Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities started bricking machines using the company’s processors.

Customers with AMD chips, the second biggest group after Intel, were finding themselves unable to get past the splash screen in Windows 10 after the patch was applied. But of course, nothing is ever Microsoft’s fault, hence:

“Microsoft has reports of customers with some AMD devices getting into an unbootable state after installing recent Windows operating system security updates,” the company claimed.

“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.

“To prevent AMD customers from getting into an unbootable state, Microsoft will temporarily pause sending the following Windows operating system updates to devices with impacted AMD processors at this time.”

(As an aside, our grammar checker has had an absolute field day with the syntax of this statement).

Of course, lest we forget, because Microsoft rolls up a lot of its security updates into fun-sized bundles of bork this also means it has had to pull some other stuff from AMD machines as well. So that’s fun.

In a statement given to INQ, an AMD spokesperson said: “AMD is aware of an issue with some older generation processors following installation of a Microsoft security update that was published over the weekend. AMD and Microsoft have been working on an update to resolve the issue and expect it to begin rolling out again for these impacted shortly.”

This is all in addition to an earlier Blue Screen of Death problem caused by certain anti-virus software, announced on 3 January, to whit:

“The compatibility issue arises when antivirus applications make unsupported calls into Windows kernel memory. These calls may cause stop errors (also known as blue screen errors) that make the device unable to boot. To help prevent stop errors that are caused by incompatible antivirus applications, Microsoft is only offering the Windows security updates that were released on January 3, 2018, to devices that are running antivirus software that is from partners who have confirmed that their software is compatible with the January 2018 Windows operating system security update.”

But! Don’t worry, it’s not a complete disaster. Because Microsoft has also announced that it won’t let any patches, present or future, through unless anti-virus vendors set a registry key to tell Windows that their software is compatible with the Meltdown and Spectre patches.

Which on one hand is great because if you’ve got an AMD chip and a non-compliant anti-virus package, although it may seem like you’re being thrown to the dogs, you’re actually avoiding having your machine borked more seriously. Unless one of these two vulnerabilities gets to it in which case…

Basically, the whole thing is a frickin’ mess. Not only that, it’s a long, long way from resolution. But that’s okay coz the lawsuits have already started. µ

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