Microsoft finally fixes Windows XP SVCHOST bug

For the past several months, we have been checking on a bug in Windows XP that has caused SVCHOST to push the CPU of a PC up to 100 percent usage for some users. Microsoft tried in November to fix the issue but was unsuccessful. However, the company pledged to continue to work on fixing the bug, which it stated was due to "Windows Update Agent processing long lists of superseded updates."

This week, Microsoft released a number of updates to its software products, including Windows XP, as part of its monthly "Patch Tuesday" event. WindowsITPro reports that one of those patches has apparently fixed the SVHOST bug. Dustin Childs, group manager in the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, sent the website a statement that said:

On Tuesday, Microsoft depreciated 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.

The update came less than three months before all software patches for Windows XP from Microsoft will end on April 8th, although the company will continue to provide antivirus signatures for the OS until July 2015.

Source: WindowsITPro | Image via Microsoft

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58 Comments

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Can someone tell me what is the KB number for this fix? I want to make sure the one XP machine I am working on gets it. Even better is there a direct download for this?

I can keep for future use then..

Thanks

>>Can someone tell me what is the KB number for this fix? I want to make sure the one XP machine I am working on gets it. Even better is there a direct download for this?

I can keep for future use then..

Thanks

There are none.

Nah rather use Nlite and use one of the update packs, and make a slipstreamed cd.

Rather than rely on some exe file

It's your choice. Go for whatever you feel comfortable with. Just providing new and advanced users a way to get updates instead of going to Microsoft Update and/or installing the updates manually. The package is for conveinence.

John.D said,
Nah rather use Nlite and use one of the update packs, and make a slipstreamed cd.

Rather than rely on some exe file


Can you suggest/link to one of these update packs you refer to?

You people with the WU bug, did you upgrade Windows Installer from 3.1 to 4.5? also did you install the updated Windows update agent & Install KB898461? I know WU installs KB898461 and the WGA validation update, but if you install Windows Installer 4.5 Then KB898461, then the issue is minimal(You could install IE8 between Windows installer and KB898461), just let it do it's thing. I'd rather let it peg svchost(if it doesn't cause any other issues) rather than the updates take forever to dl and install. XP ships with certain outdated components, but if you update those before hand, then you should have minimal issues(if any)

Yup, just installed XP mode here / updating it now in Win7 Pro. And yup sure enough it does work without 100% CPU usage. Altho it did go to 100% but didnt stay there. The usage went down. At the mo, I'm downloading the updates. And so far, so good

@Sega dude, if you mean what update do you need to fix it?? You dont need one. Just go to windowsupdate then update XP

Windows Update needs an update anyways, no matter if its NT 5 or 6.3 the update servers / apps are still quite buggy. Like "Cant Install Updates, reason: Updates are installing" but the UI says install updates , so yeah 6.4 should bring some improvements on that end.

SaT.161 said,
Windows Update needs an update anyways, no matter if its NT 5 or 6.3 the update servers / apps are still quite buggy. Like "Cant Install Updates, reason: Updates are installing" but the UI says install updates , so yeah 6.4 should bring some improvements on that end.

The only time I ever see this is if Windows Update's already running in the background, and then I manually go to WU and try to initiate a scan/download/install. Seems accurate to me. How is this a bug?

Or do you just mean a very minor UI quirk?

SaT.161 said,
No i mean the update system is almost the same as it was with Windows 2000, so it needs to be updated from its core.

Ok, I'll bite: Let's see your redesign spec.

But is this bug now fixed for Vista too? My Vista laptop has had this same problem...generally I just killed it with TaskManager until it reset itself.

Are you sure it's the same bug? Vista doesn't have the same update mechanism as XP and there seem to be no reports of this problem affecting that OS too. See if you can replicate after a fresh installation.

Well this problem has plagued me for quite some time now. Unfortunately, my machine is so old so I'm paranoid about re-installing the OS.

Unless those are really old light-weight games or you have heavy-duty hardware, gaming in a VM is bound to suck. I'd rather dual boot the old OS instead. Which games are you playing in a VM anyway that aren't compatible with Vista or later?

Romero said,
Unless those are really old light-weight games or you have heavy-duty hardware, gaming in a VM is bound to suck. I'd rather dual boot the old OS instead. Which games are you playing in a VM anyway that aren't compatible with Vista or later?

16-bit games. I have a crapload of shareware discs from the mid 90s and there are some gems on there. A good chunk of those games are DOS so you can head down the DOSBox mode for better emulation, but there are Win16 games too.

Romero said,
Unless those are really old light-weight games or you have heavy-duty hardware, gaming in a VM is bound to suck. I'd rather dual boot the old OS instead. Which games are you playing in a VM anyway that aren't compatible with Vista or later?

If a game NEEDS Windows XP to run, i am quite sure it can work fine on any vm.

Tiago said,
At last. People still use XP for a lot of reasons.

True, many of them have to do with intranet websites still being re-written to avoid the proprietary technologies that pretty much left many businesses having their Internet Explorer stuck at version 6 for years.

Microsoft depreciated legacy security updates
Depreciate and deprecate might have similar meanings, but in the context of software features, APIs etc. only the latter makes sense. Unbelievable how many people make this basic mistake.

Back on topic, better late than never, because it will at least shut those nut jobs up who have been spreading conspiracy BS about how Microsoft introduced or won't fix this bug deliberately just to kill off XP and force people to upgrade.

Romero said,
Back on topic, better late than never, because it will at least shut those nut jobs up who have been spreading conspiracy BS about how Microsoft introduced or won't fix this bug deliberately just to kill off XP and force people to upgrade.

I wish they would do this, honestly.

Boo Berry said,

I wish they would do this, honestly.

I would never again do business with any company that would do something so sleazy as to sabotage its own product that people paid money for in order to force them to buy a newer product. Now I agree XP is obsolete and people should update as soon as possible but for Microsoft to do something like that would be crossing the line.

Bumblefly said,

Now I agree XP is obsolete and people should update as soon as possible but for Microsoft to do something like that would be crossing the line.
I concur.

Apple is doing it every year... With Apple, you are only sure to get 1 year of "support". After that year, they want you to be ready with the cash again, or you start to miss out on "features", many with artificial spec limits to force you to upgrade.

As a bonys, they sometimes happily upgrade a several years old phone for you (read iPhone 4 and iOS 7), just to make it crawl, so you really have to buy new.

Perhaps Apple is finally changing its tune, for wasn't the latest OS X upgrade "free"? Of course the obscene markup on the hardware means it should have been free all along, and I wonder why they did this now when their users haven't really complained earlier.

Romero said,
Perhaps Apple is finally changing its tune, for wasn't the latest OS X upgrade "free"?

Free, but doesn't support Macs that are only a couple years old. They've forced obscelecence with their Mac line a few times now in recent years.

Farchord said,
So they dodged the problem by removing old superfluous IE updates

haha, more like they "improved the customer experience, by removing old, unsupported, patches that are no longer relevant due to the release of the more modern IE99, that Microsoft recommends all users migrate to immediately."

The_Decryptor said,
Well there's no point actually fixing it now, not like XP is going to actually get many more updates.
It's not but today it's still supported so technically they're supposed to fix major bugs like that

Well it is fixed, with a workaround. They aren't going to sink lots of time and effort into a dead product (And since updates will soon be stopped, there's no point re-writing the update software to be robust to handle years worth of updates, just make it work well enough for a couple more months)

Actually, there is certainly a good point in them doing this. People will still be installing and updating XP systems for a long time to come. This bug has been a real PITA for people, I believe they tried to fix this at least a few times in the last several months and it was only working for some people. Hopefully this will solve the issue.

ir0nw0lf said,
People will still be installing and updating XP systems for a long time to come.

Not Microsoft's problem after extended support ends…

Yeah, XP is over a decade old at this point, people are lucky MS supported it this far.

At a certain point though people will need to move on, they can't expect to run terribly out of date software and expect everything to keep working.

Rudy said,
It's not but today it's still supported so technically they're supposed to fix major bugs like that

Plus the same update mechanism is in Server 2003 which direct enter EOL for some time yet. So there is some benefit for this fix.

It's an interesting thought. Microsoft only guarantees bugfixes for the first 5 years of a product's availability, but security updates until the product goes end-of-life, which is 10 years (or more, in XP's case). The bug isn't a security issue in and of itself (taking a long time to install updates isn't broken, but it is a bad experience), but it does affect the speed at which one is able to find and install security updates.

Guess Microsoft decided this one was enough of a "security fix" to push out a fix to their WU servers. It's interesting.

Spiffy you say? About goddamn time !

I'm not impacted, no XP anymore at work or at home, but what they just did is what every Windows Server Update Service admin should do regularly: prune obsolete/replaced updates from the servers.

I'm appalled they didn't do it on their own infrastructure in the 1st place !

Rudy said,
It's not but today it's still supported so technically they're supposed to fix major bugs like that

It IS fixed. There are many ways to fix a problem. Why does it matter if they took the easy path or the harder path of rewriting the update engine if the end result is... identical? I'd say this is the smarter way of doing it, since they save time they can work on other things, while the state of XP means that the problem won't reoccur.

You wouldn't believe how many times bugs are fixed by shortcuts by reputable companies.

The_Decryptor said,
Well there's no point actually fixing it now, not like XP is going to actually get many more updates.

XP is going to be around for years to come. Hospitals rely on it and so does 90% of scada equipment and POS systems. They are willin to pay $500.000 a year for continued updates and have no desire to throw out perfectly good and expensive equipment for no good reason. I think the makers are now just starting to beta test Windows 7 now?!

Their customers forced them to ignore Wundows 7 for half a decade as their business pcs stayed on XP which created an endless loop of XP dependency and IE 6 too.