Microsoft to work on patch for Windows XP’s SVCHOST bug through the holidays


Microsoft to work on patch for Windows XP's SVCHOST bug through the holidays

While you’re busy unwrapping presents, sipping on a glass of wine and guzzling chocolates, spare a thought for Microsoft Update programmers. These guys, instead of celebrating at home with family, will instead be trying to patch a bug in Windows XP once and for all. Well… that might not be quite what’s happening, but they will be “working through the holiday to provide the right fix as soon as possible”

This announcement was made by Doug Neal, senior program manager for Microsoft Update who send out the message to PatchManagement subscribers. The problems means that CPU usage can shoot up, and it appears that the root cause may have been finally determined.

We saw the issue stemmed from inefficiencies in the Windows Update Agent processing long lists of superseded updates.  And the problem was exponential in that each additional superseded item took twice as long as the previous item to evaluate.  With lists as long as 40+ superseded items, the processing cost on SVCHOST via the Windows Update Agent had an exceptional impact on client PCs.

Due to security requirements, the Internet Explorer product was required to continue building a chain longer than what is normally permitted in Windows Update.  Over time, this exception exacerbated the previously unknown inefficiency in the Windows Update Agent.

A number of attempts to fix the problem have already been made, but time is now running out. Support for Windows XP ends soon and Neal is keen for this to be addressed be for that happens.

“We want to make sure the next fix is the last and comprehensively solves this for our customers.”

Are you still sticking with Windows XP? What will you do if further problems are discovered after support ends?