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Microsoft announces important security and antivirus updates for Windows

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In January this year, Microsoft announced that they were blocking certain antivirus programs from updating because it was interfering with Windows 10's security. The announcement came after the Spectre and Meltdown debacles, and eventually led to Microsoft releasing an emergency update that countered Intel's Spectre 'fix.'

Yesterday, Windows Director of Program Management, John Cable, announced that they've now reached the stage where they can lift the antivirus compatibility check and that they're planning to roll out Spectre and Meltdown protection for x86 editions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

If you've been using a different antivirus program than Windows Defender, and your device has been one of those blocked from updating, then you will be happy to know that Microsoft has now lifted the antivirus compatibility check. The reason it was used in the first place was that certain antivirus programs made unsupported calls into the Windows kernel memory, thereby causing compatibility issues with Windows 10 security. Although the antivirus compatibility check has been removed, Microsoft still demands that your antivirus program is compatible with Windows 10 and they will downright block programs that are not. If you're unsure if your antivirus tool is compatible with Windows 10, then Microsoft recommends you check in with your provider.

"We continue to require that antivirus software is compatible and in cases where there are known issues of AV driver compatibility, we will block those devices from updates to avoid any issues, explains Microsoft. "We recommend customers check with their antivirus provider on the compatibility of their installed antivirus software product."

Regarding Intel's Spectre and Meltdown issues, Microsoft announced that they are reopening Windows 10 to firmware updates from Intel. You might remember that the Spectre firmware update from Intel was causing some computers to reboot spontaneously, and in some cases, it even lead to data loss and corruption. In January Microsoft stepped in and released an emergency update that disabled Intel's Spectre fix. Intel platforms include Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake devices, and those are now open to receive Intel microcode updates.

When it comes to Windows devices that are vulnerable to Meltdown, Microsoft has now expanded protection to older Windows devices - all x86 editions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are now protected via a software update. "Today, we are adding software coverage for the Meltdown vulnerability for x86 editions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, announces Microsoft, and we continue to work to provide updates for additional supported versions of Windows."

Lastly, a reminder from Microsoft that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will receive its final security update on April 10th. It also marks the end of service for the update, and Windows 10 users can expect the next big update (Redstone 4) to roll out directly after. It is, therefore, crucial that you don't miss the final security update.

Source: Windows Blog

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"Windows 10 Anniversary Update will receive its final security update on April 10th"

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