As usual, shortly before the end of the month Microsoft published the previews of the September updates for Windows. Normally, the previews do not contain any security-related changes. It’s different in August: With the update preview for Windows 10 and Windows 11, Microsoft developers are providing countermeasures to protect against the downfall vulnerability in Intel CPUs and also activate them during installation.
The Downfall CPU vulnerability was disclosed earlier this month and is a derivative of the Meltdown vulnerability in Intel processors. This allows attackers to read data from other processes running on the same CPU core.
Windows Update Preview: Protection against Downfall, but not against Inception
Microsoft has published a knowledgebase article that explains the protective measure against the downfall vulnerability with the update previews from the end of August. The company writes that the protection in Windows 10 and 11 is also activated immediately. For server operating systems, updates will follow on September 12th. In the article, the developers explain which registry key controls the protection and how administrators can disable it. However, the update does not protect against the AMD CPU vulnerability codenamed “Inception”, which became known at the same time, and Microsoft does not say a word about it.
In the update preview overview for Windows 11 22H2, there is no reference to this security-related part. However, the developers are highlighting some fixes that they considered highlights. One focus is on the built-in search.
The so-called search flyout field may now fold out when hovering over the search field with the mouse. Apparently, the feature is not activated immediately for all installations. The programmers fixed an issue with the search icon where clicking on it no longer opened the search app after waking up from sleep mode – and in the process improved the general reliability of the search app. There were also issues with the Tab key in search results, as well as with the screen reader. In tablet mode, Windows now reduces the search field size to that used on Surface devices.
In addition, the standard apps should again be easier to select and control, as well as those that are pinned to the desktop. Microsoft even dedicated a blog article to it. The function in the Windows update page in the settings to automatically install optional updates early can now also be controlled with a group policy.
Bitlocker had also caused problems. Under certain circumstances, Windows could no longer start if users deleted a partition and then added the freed space to a Bitlocker-protected partition. The use of Bitlocker on storage media with large sector sizes could also disable Windows.
If you are struggling with these problems or cannot protect yourself from the downfall vulnerability with a BIOS update, you should install the update preview if necessary. On the August patch day, Microsoft patched numerous security gaps in various products from the portfolio. Among them was a zero-day vulnerability, which was already being attacked by cybercriminals at the time. The upcoming Microsoft patch day will take place on the night of September 12th to 13th.
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