Microsoft has released an important cumulative update for the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, designed to improve the performance of PCs by mitigating any sluggishness bestowed upon the system by the fixes for Spectre (variant 2).
Update KB4482887 actually sorts out a number of issues (more on that later), but the headline-grabbing fix is the fact that it enables ‘Retpoline’, which “may improve performance of Spectre variant 2 mitigations”, according to Microsoft.
Note that this will be only going live for “certain devices”, and Microsoft is deploying Retpoline as part of a phased rollout over the coming months, so as ever with these operations, you may not get it immediately – and indeed you may be waiting some time.
The software giant also noted that: “Due to the complexity of the implementation and changes involved, we are only enabling Retpoline performance benefits for Windows 10, version 1809 [October 2018 Update] and later releases.”
Banishing the Spectre
When Spectre and Meltdown first hit the headlines, there was obviously a big fuss about these major vulnerabilities, but when the fixes were first floated, the secondary fuss became about the performance hit that those patches would bring with them (with talk of up to 30% slowdowns, at least initially, although that was quickly clarified, and it very much depends on what CPU you’re running, and what OS).
That’s why this particular update is important, as it mitigates that performance hit to a large extent – at least in the case of the second variant of Spectre. Or it hopefully well, anyway: Microsoft is certainly carefully wording things in terms of the fact that it ‘may’ improve performance.
As we mentioned at the outset, KB4482887 also delivers a number of other important Windows 10 fixes, including a cure for a glitch whereby the Action Center briefly popped up on the left-hand side of the screen, before switching to the right where it should be.
Several fixes were also implemented for problems experienced by users with laptops connected to (or being disconnected from) a docking station.