Microsoft says older Windows versions will face greatest performance hits after Meltdown, Spectre patches

| January 10, 2018

Microsoft has confirmed that users of older versions of Windows should expect to “notice a decrease in system performance” after they apply system patches to protect against the Meltdown and Spectre processor bugs.

The bugs, which affect mostly Intel processors but also some ARM and AMD chips, expose the majority of the world’s computers and phones to speculative execution side-channel attacks.

A successful attack could read portions of protected, sensitive memory, such as passwords and other secrets.

Microsoft released security updates on January 3 to fix the issue at the operating system level. Intel also issued updates for its microcode.

In changing the way that Windows accesses the computer’s memory, Microsoft has conceded that users may experience performance hits — depending on the age of their computer’s processor and version of Windows.

Microsoft’s Terry Myerson said in a blog post that Windows 7 and Windows 8 users running older processors, like 2015-era Haswell or older chips, will be most affected by performance issues.

That’s because older versions of Windows have more user-kernel transitions, such as font rendering taking place in the kernel.

In a call Monday, Microsoft said there would be some scenarios where performance might noticeably change, such as longer boot times.

Windows 10 users also running older hardware may show “more significant slowdowns,” with the company expecting “some users will notice a decrease in system performance.”


Category: hacking

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