If you have office PCs that are suddenly unable to boot up, it may be Microsoft's fault, not yours or that of some hacker in Russia.
The software behemoth announced on January 9 that it was canceling its January 8 Windows 10 upgrade because of a serious flaw. This is what we know so far:
A Windows patch to reduce the risk from exploits for the Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws is reportedly preventing PCs with older AMD processors from booting.
AMD users have been reporting that their PCs were running Windows 10 without issue before installing the update. After installing the update users say their PCs are unable to boot and eventually get stuck in an endless loop, as they try to roll back to an earlier version of the OS.
Some users report they were able to block the update by using the Hide/Show troubleshooter, but Microsoft is yet to provide official guidance for affected users.
Windows 10 Home users have no easy way of deferring updates, and some users with affected PCs express frustration at suffering as a result of a patch primarily aimed at Intel processors.
What was supposed to happen
Two design flaws in modern processors, Spectre and Meltdown, open a massive range of PCs, phones, tablets and servers to attack. These two vulnerabilities in modern chip design could allow attackers to bypass system protections to read sensitive information, such as passwords, from memory. AMD chip sets were not subject to Spectre and Meltdown.
The recent Microsoft patch applies to all supported versions of Windows and Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server and the Edge and Internet Explorer 11 browsers. Microsoft reports that it cannot be certain if its patches for the two vulnerabilities actually caused the problems for AMD users because the Windows update itself included more changes than just those specific security fixes. Either way, AMD users with older hardware and Windows 10 home were grounded.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said of the Meltdown/Spectre chip flaws: "We're aware of this industry-wide issue and have been working closely with chip manufacturers to develop and test mitigations to protect our customers."
Following reports of disabled AMD computers, Microsoft immediately delayed rolling out the upgrade to affected machines. "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," Microsoft said in a statement on its support site.
Finding someone to blame, Microsoft explained that it had "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."
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