Microsoft rolls out Meltdown and Spectre fixes for Windows 7 and 8.1

Meltdown and Spectre

Microsoft has patched the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities on Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs, where previously only Windows 10 was covered.

Specifically, those running Windows 7 (Service Pack 1) and Windows 8.1 will now be able to install Microsoft’s fix for the flaws on the software front.

More Windows 10 users will benefit from the fixes, too, because many of those previously blocked from installing Windows security updates due to potential compatibility issues with some antivirus apps (identified earlier this year) will now be able to go ahead with patching.

In a blog post, Microsoft observed: “This change will expand the breadth of Windows 10 devices offered cumulative Windows security updates, including software protections for Spectre and Meltdown.”

The software giant did say there are still some known issues when it comes to antivirus driver compatibility, so a small number of devices may remain blocked. However, the majority of Windows users will now be able to benefit from the Meltdown and Spectre fixes.

How to protect against Spectre and Meltdown

Meltdown and Spectre

For the latest on how to protect yourself from Spectre and Meltdown, read our comprehensive guide.

Double defense

Of course, these OS patches don’t mean you’re bulletproof when it comes to the vulnerabilities in question. These are fixes for software, and processors also need to be patched on the hardware front, with Intel busy delivering revamped microcode fixes as we’ve seen in recent times.

On that side of the equation, Microsoft has also moved forward, with the company announcing that it has increased the number of Intel microcode updates that are available from the Microsoft Catalog.

These now include patches for Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Intel’s latest Coffee Lake CPUs, and they're available for those running the latest incarnation of Windows 10 (Fall Creators Update).

Microsoft began offering Intel’s Skylake microcode a couple of weeks back, and both Broadwell and Haswell processors should be next in line, given that Intel has recently released overhauled patches for these to hardware manufacturers.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).