Microsoft confirms AMD Meltdown, Spectre patch crashes

January 9, 2018 // 11:24 a.m.

Tags: #flaw #insecurity #patch #security #spectre #vulnerability #windows #windows-update

Microsoft has confirmed reports that its Meltdown and Spectre patch set for Windows, designed to work around serious security flaws in modern processors, is causing serious headaches for AMD owners - including an inability to boot post-installation.

Designed to address the Meltdown and Spectre speculative execution vulnerabilities, which allows malicious software to infer the contents of otherwise-protected memory and gain access to passwords and other privileged information, Microsoft's bevy of patches have been released between January 3rd and January 9th as a means of protecting uses prior to the release of microcode updates from Intel and AMD. Sadly, for some, the cure appears to be worse than the disease, with numerous users running AMD processors - which are vulnerable to Spectre but not Meltdown, the latter so far proving Intel-specific in the x86 world - reporting that their systems no longer load Windows following the installation of the patches.

Microsoft, for its part, is denying culpability and placing the blame firmly on AMD's shoulders for allegedly providing inaccurate or incomplete chipset documentation. 'Microsoft has reports of customers with some AMD devices getting into an unbootable state after installing recent Windows operating system security updates. 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 claims in its announcement to customers. '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.'

Without the suspended patches, AMD systems will remain vulnerable to attack through the Spectre vulnerability - something Microsoft is working to resolve, promising to 'resume Windows OS security updates to the affected AMD devices via Windows Update and WSUS as soon as possible'.

Update: AMD has responded to the issue with the following official statement: '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.'

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