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Microsoft Quietly Fixes Windows XP Resource Hog Problem

Microsoft indicated this week that it has fixed a Windows XP resource-hog problem associated with the system's SVCHOST.EXE processes.

Windows XP users affected by this problem typically found that the operating system was using up system resources for 15 minutes to an hour after startup, making it difficult to use the machine during that period. The Microsoft Update team had vowed last month to spend the holiday break tackling the issue, which has plagued some users for years.

The fix involved stopping the system from perpetually checking Internet Explorer updates. Microsoft indicated that the fix was rolled out on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Microsoft depreciated [sic] legacy security updates for Internet Explorer that had been replaced by more recent ones. We did this to improve customer experience, reducing the time Windows Update requires to check existing updates before installing new ones. This action was purely to improve update performance and does not affect customer security. - Dustin Childs, group manager, Microsoft Trustworthy Computing

Microsoft did not announce the fix broadly. Instead, it released the above statement to Susan Bradley, a Microsoft MVP and moderator of the PatchManagement.org list-serve service, which is a discussion group for IT pros. Apparently, that's the only venue where the statement appeared publicly. Microsoft's January security bulletin announcing four patches and nonsecurity releases did not mention the SVCHOST fix for Windows XP.

Microsoft's fix took effect on Tuesday. It apparently stops systems from grinding through older Internet Explorer updates before releasing system resources. The fix also seems not to require any actions by Windows XP users or IT pros to take effect.

Of course, Windows XP users still face the broader problem of the operating system falling out of product lifecycle support by Microsoft. On April 8, 2014, Microsoft won't issue updates to the 12-year-old OS at all.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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