Microsoft is planning to distribute Intel’s firmware updates to protect Windows 10 systems against the Spectre CPU vulnerability. While Microsoft typically distributes its own firmware updates for Surface devices, the software maker usually leaves it up to PC makers to issue their own firmware updates. Microsoft is now planning to list the Intel firmware updates in its Microsoft Update Catalog, which will help IT admins distribute these to systems.
Updates for Skylake systems will be available initially, and Microsoft says it will list more system firmware updates as they become available. “We will continue to work with chipset and device makers as they offer more vulnerability mitigations,” says John Cable, from Microsoft’s Windows Servicing and Delivery team. While Microsoft isn’t committing to automatically pushing these firmware updates to the company’s Windows Update system, even listing them in the company’s Update Catalog is a step further than usual.
Microsoft says it has also been working with third-party antivirus companies to ensure firmware patches and Windows updates are compatible with systems. There’s a risk of compatibility issues, and because of that Microsoft is requiring that antivirus programs mark that they’re compatible before updates are applied. “The vast majority of Windows devices now [have] compatible AV software installed,” says Cable.