Microsoft gives sysadmins Meltdown and Spectre detection in Windows Analytics

Microsoft has released an update to its free Windows Analytics tool, giving system administrators a new way to check for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.

Unless you manage several PCs deployed at your workplace, you might not be familiar with Windows Analytics, a free tool that Microsoft provides to businesses.

Windows Analytics may not be used to patch such systems from a central location -other tools are available for that- but will help system administrators track down non-patched systems.

Windows Analytics is a subscription-based service originally designed for public cloud management tasks.

The Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities were spotted in early January this year, and it was said that they affect pretty much every device in existence today. The tools also will report if a registry setting change was made to block a problematic Spectre variant 2 microcode update.

Writing on the Windows Blog, Terry Myerson - executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group - says that the company is frequently asked about Meltdown and Spectre. Microsoft notes that not all AV software is compatible with the latest Windows updates, and if that is the case, Windows Analytics will let IT admins know about it. It is meant for guiding organizations through upgrading to and staying current on Windows 10 by providing actionable insights into device performance, reliability, and health.

The first is an antivirus status check that probes whether a machine's installed antivirus software will prevent it from receiving a Windows Meltdown/Spectre patch.

With yesterday's Patch Tuesday security fixes, Microsoft has also rolled out an update to the Windows Analytics service that will help businesses with the process of patching the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. Customers' devices require both updates to CPU microcode (firmware) and the Windows operating system, and anti-virus software must be compatible with the latest Windows updates. Our complete list of Windows editions and security updates can be found in our Windows customer guidance article. Initially, this status will be limited to the list of approved and available firmware security updates from Intel.

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