Update: Microsoft pulls crippling patch from Windows Update

Leaves rest of MS14-045 on the update service

Although Microsoft has pulled a patch from Windows Update that crippled some computers, it is still pushing a truncated version of the security update that contained the flawed fix.

The update, identified as MS14-045 and one of nine released on "Patch Tuesday," Aug. 12, addressed three separate vulnerabilities, including one related to a font bug and another in the Windows kernel, the heart of the operating system.

Within hours of its release, however, users reported that MS14-045 had generated a Stop 0x50 error on some systems, notably on Windows 7 PCs running the 64-bit version of the OS. They were unable to start up their PCs and typical repair techniques, like booting into Windows' Safe Mode, wouldn't work, some reported.

In response, on Friday Microsoft pulled the patch from its Download Center and revised the accompanying advisory. That was its only public messaging to customers; the company's security center did not blog about the issue or tweet that it had withdrawn the patch.

But Microsoft is still offering part of MS14-045 to users via Windows Update.

MS14-045 was originally composed of two separate "packages," one pegged as 2982791 and the other as 2976897. The former -- the fix for the font problem, and the one Microsoft told customers to uninstall -- has been removed from Windows Update.

The latter (2976897) is still being offered.

While Microsoft correctly identified the crippling package in a support document -- actually, it tapped four, including two specific for Windows 8 and 8.1 -- users who look at the list of available patches in Windows Update and take the time to examine each before installing may be confused, as 2976897 is also identified as associated with MS14-045.

The 2976897 package, however, is safe to install, Microsoft said.

According to Microsoft, all versions of Windows, both client versions like Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1, and server editions such as Windows Server 2008 and 2012 R2, were fed the 2982791 patch package.

Microsoft has not said when it would again offer the 2982791 part of MS14-045, saying only that it was investigating the issues with that and the other three fixes it told customers to uninstall.

Read more about malware and vulnerabilities in Computerworld's Malware and Vulnerabilities Topic Center.

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