A Windows XP bug is causing CPU usage to skyrocket when launching Windows Update, with the SVCHOST process eating almost 100 percent of the available CPU power and causing the system to freeze for several seconds.
While the issue has been spotted earlier this year, Microsoft hasn’t yet addressed it, with users trying all kinds of workarounds to deal with system freezes.
Doug Neal, a Windows engineer, has confirmed in a post on PatchManagement that Microsoft is looking into the fix and provided more details on what’s going wrong on Windows XP.
As InfoWorld points out, the patch that is causing trouble to XP users is supposed to correct an issue in IE6 and IE7. Since these two versions have been released a long time ago, there are plenty of updates available, which means that Windows Update needs to load the entire list before getting the patch you need.
“The problem is caused by the Windows Update client evaluating an exceptionally long supersedence chain - something IE6 and IE7 have more than any other version of IE due to their time in market,” Neal explained.
“Each ‘link’ in the chain doubles the CPU resources needed to evaluate it over the previous version. The chain is so long that the design stymies the WUA client.”
At this point, Microsoft is working to provide a fix, but no timeframe has been provided, so nobody knows for sure whether the patch would arriver sooner or later. One thing is for sure though: Windows XP will go dark on April 8, 2014, so Microsoft needs to hurry up a little bit this time.
“We're working to expire these exceptionally old, dated, unnecessary updates in the chain. The expirations for these didn't happen as planned. While I can't provide a date for when this will be done, we know it's an issue affecting customer PCs and we're working to get it out as soon as possible to halt the impact,” Neal concluded.