Intel to release updated microcode going back at least 5 years

To fix the problems associated with the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, Intel will be releasing microcode [i.e. BIOS] updates going back quite far. How far? Initially they said going back to the 4th generation Core processors but now they are planning to go even farther. At least back as far as Core 2 Duo days. Updates will be available from OEMs and not Windows Update.

You can find the announcement here.

[Update 2018/03/05:] Microsoft will slowly be offering microcode update though Windows Update Catalog. One update will cover them all. If your CPU is not supported at the time, it will notify you.

The catch is that the update will not be through Windows Update but through the Windows Update Catalog. So you will have to manually download the update.

[Update 2018/03/16:] Microsoft added more CPUs (6th through 8th generation) now to the update. Updated 8th generation as well as the upcoming 9th generation CPUs will have the fix in addition to other protections, so Intel says.



Some directions for Windows computers and the CPU flaw

As you probably know by now, Intel [and to a lesser extent other CPU developers] were hit with a vulnerability that in some cases go back over 20 years.

Most operating system developers have released update or will shortly.

For example, Apple has released updates for their supported hardware. Google will release updates for Android [harder to exploit – surprisingly]. Microsoft has released updates for their operating systems but with a caveat – anti-virus developers must correct their own software first if using some programming code they shouldn’t of.

According to current information at this time, here are the most common anti-virus products and their status:

Avast: Fixed if using version 8 or later.

ESET: Fixed if you check for updates.

Kaspersky: Fix previously released.

McAfee: Expected to use the registry fix found here.

Microsoft: Windows Defender is fixed.

Norton: Fixed.

Panda: Expected to use the registry fix found here.

Symantec: Fixed when checking for updates.

Trend Micro: Can use the registry fix found here.

WebRoot: Expected to use the registry fix found here.

Once the fix is in place, Windows Update should list the January 2018 update.

If your computer is still supported, check for a recent BIOS update as well.

Please note that the information given is as is. I am not responsible for any issues that may arise. Check with the anti-virus vendor first. Failure could result in a BSOD or other issues. If your vendor isn’t listed, go to the vendor’s web site.

[Update 2018/01/11:] If you have VMware Workstation Player or Pro [recent supported versions or any business line versions, you may want to check for updates. If you are receiving updates with your AMD CPU, either you were unaffected or the issue has been fixed.

Some older AMD processors have had the recent OS updates suspended by Microsoft following some blue screen of deaths. Athlon 64 X2 seem to be affected.


Miscellaneous computer tips – Volume 9

Where to find pinned links

Always wonder where you can find your pinned links at the top of the Start menu or in the Task Bar? For whatever infinite wisdom Microsoft did, they placed them both under Internet Explorer and not [say] Windows Explorer. Even worse, if you drill down to “User Pinned” in one of the two paths below, “User Pinned” is a hidden folder. Why?

Below, replace your_user_name with the account you log in.

C:\Users\your_user_name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\StartMenu

C:\Users\your_user_name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar

Note: You can only have valid shortcut links in the folder.

Firefox Send

Mozilla has released a new web tool called Firefox Send. Nothing to install.

You upload a file and it gets encrypted. You then provide the link to someone.

Once they download it or after 24 hours after uploading, it automatically gets deleted. You can download a file more than once.

Works with Firefox [not surprised] and Chrome. Not with Internet Explorer or Edge.

Windmail.dat in Outlook

When you see a WINMAIL.DAT attachment it means that these issues are caused by TNEF. TNEF is Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format that is used by Outlook for Windows and Exchange Server for Exchange specific features such as voting buttons.
When you are using Outlook with POP/IMAP/EAS account you can use the registry settings below to disable TNEF.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



  • xx.0 in this registry path corresponds to the Outlook version (16.0 = Outlook 2016, 15.0 = Outlook 2013, 14.0 = Outlook 2010).
  • This is a per user setting. So it has to be done for each user on a shared computer.
  • If you upgrade your version of Office [or Outlook] you need to reapply with the correct version.

By disabling TNEF, the following features will not work:

  • Task Request message will be replaced by a normal message.
  • Custom forms can’t be used and scripts and properties will be removed.
  • Embedded OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) in a message won’t be use. Instead, these are replaced by pictures.
  • Voting buttons may be used but recipients may not see any buttons.

As usual, use at your own risk. See the Notes page regarding making changes to your system.

How to disable SMB v1

If you have been reading about WannaCry and Petya, most of the systems could have been protected two ways.

First is to make sure systems were up to date on security updates and other patching.

Second would be to disable SMB v1.

[A third way would be up to date anti-virus/security software but for those in the initial batches that were hit, this probably wouldn’t have been available.]

Server Message Block [SMB] is the file protocol that is most commonly used by Windows operating systems. It is an old protocol, over 10 years old. Communications is digitally signed, which enables the recipient of the packets to confirm their point of origination and their authenticity.

Note: Test before applying changes. You still may have some lesser known applications that still need SMB v1.

This link details how to disable SMB v1 for stand-alone computers as well as those on a domain for various operating systems.

If you are using a stand-alone computer [not on a domain], the registry “fix” below will disable SMB v1 and will take effect after rebooting:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

; Disables SMB v1

; To enable, set to 1 or delete entry



With the release of Windows 10 Fall Creator Update [a.k.a. v1709] and the server equivalent, SMB v1 will be disabled by default when you buy a new system or do a clean/fresh installation [i.e. not an upgrade].

Microsoft has a web page that lists Microsoft and third-party products that require SMB v1 and links with further information.

Note: A reminder that if you modify the registry, back up the registry before proceeding.

Blocking the latest Microsoft .net Framework in Windows

There is the occasional time where you want to disable Windows from upgrading to the latest .net Framework from Microsoft. As of this time, the latest version is version 4.7. The following can disable the installation:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



.net Framework 4.7 incorporates all the updates and updates backwards to 4.0 [i.e. 4.0., 4.5, 4.5.1, 4.6, 4.6.1 and 4.6.2]. From the above, you can replace the version in the registry settings with the version number without the decimal [for example, BlockNetFramework462 for version 4.6.2.] .net Framework 4.x series does not replace .net framework 3.5 series.

Microsoft Exchange, for example, is at this time not compatible with .net framework 4.7.

To enable the installing, replace the “1” above in the registry settings by a “0”. Note that you can still manually install .net Framework.

Now what is .net Framework? Unless you’re a developer, you really don’t need a lot of knowledge to make use of .net Framework. You just need to know it is working. The .net Framework contains thousands of pieces of shared code which helps developers as it is much easier because they don’t have to repeat the need to perform some common function. They can instead re-use the shared code in other applications. In earlier days when high speed internet wasn’t as common, it was easier for developers to include their application only as the shared code is already installed.

Note: As usual, when modifying the registry, back it up first. And use at your own risk.


WannaCrypt may have been a dud for most

While the WannaCrypt/WannaCry ransomware caused some havoc, primarily in Europe and mostly of them in eastern Europe, with the infection hitting in the 6 figures, it turned out to be a big dud.

First, many did not pay the ransom. I am guessing many of those in eastern Europe cannot afford $300+.

Second, while it heavily affected those with Windows 7 computers, I suspect many of those are unprotected or not patched as they could be pirated copies of Windows 7. Eastern Europe and Asia [also hit hard] are notorious for high piracy rates. Many with pirated copies do not want to possible compromise their system with an update that could botch their copies.

Third, even though somewhere around an estimated 10 percent of computers are still using Windows XP, an operating system that has had no support for about 3 years, those who programmed botched things up because when WannaCrypt got onto those computers they wouldn’t spread to other computers and many of them would crash.

Kaspersky claims almost 98% of machines infected were Windows 7 based. Servers were just over 1% and most of those were Server 2008 R2.  Windows 10 accounted for 0.03% [I guess some turned off Windows Updates]. Servers account for 1.4% with most of them on Windows Server 2008 R2 – the server version of Windows 7.

WannaCry/WannaCrypt Microsoft Windows patches

If you are up to date on Windows patching, you should be covered. If not, you can still get the patch at

It is important to know that Microsoft also release patches for unsupported Windows XP SP3 and Windows Server 2003.