Microsoft releases AMD-specific Windows 7 and 8.1 updates to fix unbootable state issue - gHacks Tech News

Microsoft releases AMD-specific Windows 7 and 8.1 updates to fix unbootable state issue

Microsoft released updates for AMD devices running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 designed to fix the unbootable state issue that some AMD devices ran into after installing the out-of-band security updates that Microsoft released in early January 2018 to address the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.

We have to look back to the beginning of the month to understand better what transpired. Microsoft released an out-of-band security update for all supported versions of Windows in early January that addressed security issues in modern processors.

First thought to be an Intel-specific issue, it turned out soon after that that processors by AMD and other companies were also affected (albeit not as much as Intel processors).

AMD users began to report issues with the update shortly after Microsoft released it and Microsoft halted the delivery as a consequence.

Users and administrators who installed the update noticed that the system would not boot anymore, not even into safe boot. Recovery was the only option to restore the operating system. This led to a vicious cycle of the update being offered to the system, bricking it after installation, and recovery. Admins had to hide the update to break the loop.

KB4073576 and KB4073578 to fix the issue

microsoft windows KB4073578 KB4073578

The two security updates  KB4073576 and KB4073578 fix the issue according to Microsoft's description:

KB4073578 for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 offers the following information:

An update is available to fix the following issue that occurs after you install January 3, 2018—KB4056897 (Security-only update) or January 4, 2018—KB4056894 (Monthly Rollup):

AMD devices fall into an unbootable state.

KB4073576 for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 share the summary but reference the Windows 8.1 updates KB4056898 and KB4056895 instead.

Microsoft fails to provide relevant information as Woody points out over at Computerworld:

  • Which AMD systems are targeted by the patches? All systems, or only specific processors that were affected by the previously released patches? If the latter, can you install them on other AMD machines as well?
  • Do you need to install the old updates first and risk bricking your system before installing the updates? Or is it sufficient to install only the updates?

Woody noticed that the patches install fine on Intel PCs running Windows as well. It is suggested however not to install the updates on non-AMD systems.

One thing that is puzzling is that Microsoft notes under "update replacement information" on both support articles that "this update does not replace a previously released update."

Does that mean that AMD devices still need the January updates that Microsoft pulled earlier?

I have two explanations for you that could both be valid:

  1. AMD devices need the newly released patches before the previously released security updates are installed on the devices.
  2. AMD devices need only the newly released updates and not the old update.

I don't have access to AMD devices affected by the issue and can't test it, therefore.

Let's not forget about Windows 10 AMD devices. Microsoft released no update for these machines that address the issue. Does that mean that AMD users have to wait until the February patch day to receive the update? Doesn't this issue warrant a separate update for affected machines as well?

Closing Words

I'm still amazed at how lackluster Microsoft handles releases, news articles, blog posts and other sources of information. It would not hurt if the company would start investing a bit more in getting this right for consumers as well as Enterprise customers as it would reduce support requests significantly in my opinion.

Why not add another paragraph to the support articles to inform users about the installation procedure and for which devices the patch is designed?

Now You: Are you affected by this issue?

Summary
Microsoft releases AMD-specific Windows 7 and 8.1 updates to fix unbootable state issue
Article Name
Microsoft releases AMD-specific Windows 7 and 8.1 updates to fix unbootable state issue
Description
Microsoft released updates for AMD devices running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 designed to fix the unbootable state issue that some AMD devices ran into after installing the out-of-band security updates that Microsoft released in early January 2018 to address the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.
Author
Publisher
Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Huiwe said on January 17, 2018 at 10:51 am
    Reply

    I wonder how to install the update if you experience the bootloop?

    In case you haven’t noticed yet. Since Microsoft retired the QA department, the insiders are the first QA line, and then the regular users are the second QA line. That’s why we get garbage patches nowadays.

    1. DVDRambo said on January 17, 2018 at 1:02 pm
      Reply

      That’s the catch 22 that Microsoft has created here. How to install a patch on a system that won’t boot. Well done Microsoft. Your non-existent Quality Assurance is showing it’s strength.

    2. Raúl said on January 20, 2018 at 5:00 am
      Reply

      I removed for a few seconds the CMOS battery then installed again that help with the boot issue; however, even after installing KB4073578 on Win7 64bit the issue with the bootloop still remains..

      any ideas as to what is going on?

      1. RT said on February 2, 2018 at 12:08 am
        Reply

        Uninstall the problematic KB update. The one prior to KB4073578. Programs > Uninstall but click to see “all updates” in the window first. Then arrange by date, find the offending KB, and click to uninstall. HTH

  2. Bob Hill said on January 17, 2018 at 11:36 am
    Reply

    Hi Martin,
    Many thanks for this article. I suspect that:
    “KB4073578 for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 …” should read:
    “KB4073576 for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 …”.
    Regards, Bob.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 17, 2018 at 11:41 am
      Reply

      Bob, you are right. Corrected.

  3. Sophie said on January 17, 2018 at 11:47 am
    Reply

    >>>I’m still amazed at how lackluster Microsoft handles releases, news articles, blog posts and other sources of information. It would not hurt if the company would start investing a bit more in getting this right for consumers as well as Enterprise customers as it would reduce support requests significantly in my opinion.

    — Has anyone had the experience of communicating with Microsoft on their forums/support pages? I have not “directly” myself posted anything there….but I have certainly looked and read, and what I have noticed is the terrible (truly poor quality) “cut and paste” responses that Microsoft nearly always seem to give to customers’ concerns.

    They very rarely give any sound advice, and you can see from their responses that its complete cut/paste generic text, often responding with answers that have absolutely no relevance to the question that was posed. They even say daft things like….”try clearing out your browser cache” and some such nonsense, in response to what would have been a substantial question requiring a substantial answer.

    How Microsoft are behaving now….as a company, and when taken as a whole, is just the latest types of responses in a “sea” of poor responses that have a history going back a long time now. Whether that’s software updates or support. The quality of their work is now so poor, that I’m amazed they are getting away with it.

    It could just simply be that you grow way too big. That little grocer shop on the corner that wants to give you the best service, and remembers who you are and addresses you by name when you walk in. Well, I don’t expect that, but Microsoft’s responses are just one of the symptoms of a behemoth that has lost any meaningful way of conveying itself and helping people, and it has lost a lot of goodwill along the way.

    Sorry for my long text here, but I struggle to find words to express the poorness that is 2018 Microsoft.

    1. John Fedakov said on January 17, 2018 at 12:03 pm
      Reply

      The last place you can find information about anything is on the Microsoft forums. Some posts seems not done from real people, but it’s like some buggy AI reads the post, extracts keywords an throws some generic response from the database. Pages about updates says nothing especific, what they are trying to fix with that patch, it’s always to “fix several vulnerabilities”.

    2. TelV said on January 17, 2018 at 12:20 pm
      Reply

      You’re right Sophie, but M$ continues to top the charts where success is measured financially: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-thomsonreuters-tech/microsoft-tops-thomson-reuters-top-100-global-tech-leaders-list-idUKKBN1F60FM

  4. Bill said on January 17, 2018 at 3:56 pm
    Reply

    Is KB4073576 and KB4073578 will a part of the February Monthly rollup patch?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 17, 2018 at 4:09 pm
      Reply

      We don’t know that yet.

  5. CrashKid said on January 17, 2018 at 5:13 pm
    Reply

    I experienced two command prompt popups momentarily, after reinstalling Windows+Updates from the latest ISO available from Microsoft. They only popped up once, after updating and entering each account: the admin account and a user account.

    When I see command prompts popup momenterily like this it freaks me out. I tried searching wether it is normal behavior. Is anyone familiar with this behavior? Sorry if its not related to this post.

    I have another question that I feel is important. I have my Firefox setup to erase everything after I close it. I tried to disable ad protection on this site because I really appreciate the work that goes into it. :) But Firefox forgets my setting after I close it. I’m not sure how to make ad protection settings stick while clearing all data after closing.

  6. Ruan said on January 17, 2018 at 6:56 pm
    Reply

    Quote: “The two security updates KB4073576 and KB4073578 fix the issue according to Microsoft’s description:”

    Hi Martin,
    Both your article, and Woody’s, mention that KB4073576 and KB4073578 are security updates. Forgive me if I’ve missed it, but I see no mention of this on MS’ support pages, or MS update catalog.

    Quote: “Microsoft notes under “update replacement information” on both support articles that “this update does not replace a previously released update.”

    On MS update catalog, for KB4073576, If you click on the update links, then in the opened window, under the Package Details tab, it lists the updates it (supposedly) replaces.
    https://s9.postimg.org/89a8q7y3z/Untitled.jpg

    KB4073576: This update replaces the following updates:
    2017-11 Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB4055038)
    Update for Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3200006)
    Update for Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3210694)
    Update for Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB4016446)
    Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3037313)
    Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3045992)
    Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3065013)
    Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3121255)
    Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3126033)
    Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3134785)
    Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3139165)
    Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3146627)
    Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB3187022)

  7. RT said on February 2, 2018 at 12:04 am
    Reply

    FWIW I have an affected AMD Athlon CPU, though I never installed the original problematic update. I *did* install KB4073578 solely, and then ran the Gibson Research checker tool which reports if you are patched against Spectre/Meltdown (even tho AMD is not vulnerable to Meltdown). Prior to installing the KB update, the tool showed both W7 and my BIOS as vulnerable. After the KB install, the tool showed W7 as patched, with the CPU still vulnerable. So from this anecdotal evidence, you only need KB4073578 on AMD machines to patch W7. I cannot speak for another OS.

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