Microsoft plans to distribute Intel firmware updates to protect Windows 10 systems against the Specter CPU vulnerability. While Microsoft usually distributes its own firmware updates for Surface devices, the software creator usually allows PC manufacturers to issue their own firmware updates. Microsoft now plans to list Intel firmware updates in its Microsoft Updates Catalog, which will help IT administrators distribute them to systems.
Updates to 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 chip and device manufacturers as they offer more mitigations of vulnerability," says John Cable of Microsoft's Windows maintenance and delivery team. While Microsoft does not commit to automatically bring these firmware updates to the company's Windows update system, even including them in the company's Update Catalog is a step beyond the norm.
Microsoft says it has also been working with third-party antivirus companies to ensure that firmware patches and Windows updates are compatible with the systems. There is a risk of compatibility issues and, because of that, Microsoft requires that antivirus programs mark that they are compatible before the updates are applied. "The vast majority of Windows devices now [have] compatible AV software," says Cable.