The Windows emergency security updates issued by Microsoft earlier this month came with an unprecedented prerequisite - a new key stored in the operating system's registry - that antivirus vendors were told to generate after they'd guaranteed their code wouldn't trigger dreaded Blue Screens of Death (BSoD) when users apply the patches.

The demands confused customers, and fueled a flood of support documents and an avalanche of web content. Those who heard about the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities struggled to figure out whether their PCs were protected, and if not, why not. Millions more, not having gotten wind of the potential threat, carried on without realizing that their PCs might be barred from receiving several months' worth of security updates.

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