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Microsoft Warns Meltdown And Spectre Patches Will Really Slow Down Older Computers: Time To Upgrade?

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Microsoft revealed that most users of older computers will experience slower performance once Meltdown and Spectre patches are installed. Windows 7 and Windows 8 users are urged not to skip the security updates though, as the consequences may be severe.  ( Drew Angerer | Getty Images )

Microsoft warned that users with older computers and operating systems will be the most negatively affected by the rollout of patches that will fight back against the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities.

When the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws were reported last week, it was said that fixing the problems will significantly slow down computers. Microsoft's tests have confirmed this, so Windows 7 and Windows 8 users might want to think about getting an upgrade.

Meltdown And Spectre Patches To Slow Down Older Computers

In an official blog post, Microsoft's Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group Terry Myerson discussed the impact of the Meltdown and Spectre patches on the performance of Windows computers.

According to the company's testing, the patches only result in single-digit slowdowns for Windows 10 computers with newer silicon chips from about 2016 onward. Users with these machines will likely not notice the performance drop after the security updates are installed. Meanwhile, some users on Windows 10 computers with older silicon chips from about 2015 will notice a decrease in system performance, as benchmarks reveal more significant slowdowns for these machines.

The rollout of the Meltdown and Spectre fixes will severely affect Windows 8 and Windows 7 computers with older silicon chips, Microsoft said. According to the company, most users will experience a decrease in the performance of their systems once the patches are installed.

Microsoft did not reveal the specific benchmark results, nor did it divulge the method used to test the impact of Meltdown and Spectre patches on system performance. However, the message is clear: older computers will be the ones hardest hit by the security updates.

What Should Windows 7, Windows 8 PC Owners Do?

The reduced system performance for Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines is not ideal, but users are urged not to skip installing the security patches to maintain the speed of their machines. The Meltdown and Spectre security flaws are dangerous, as hackers can exploit them to steal sensitive data stored in computers.

For users who do not want to be hassled by the slower performance but will also rightfully want to be protected from the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, it may finally be time to upgrade to a newer machine and Windows operating system.

Apple devices, meanwhile, are now protected from Meltdown and Spectre through the rollout of iOS 11.2.2, a supplemental patch for macOS 10.13.2, and Safari 11.0.2. Purchasing a MacBook to replace an old Windows PC, therefore, is also an option.

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