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).
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.
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:
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:
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?
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?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.