By Joris Evers
IDG News Service
Microsoft's latest security patch can cause computers running Windows
XP to slow down to a crawl, affected users say.
Windows XP can take up to 10 seconds to start an application after
installation of the patch released last Wednesday with security
bulletin MS03-013, users wrote in dozens of postings on several online
discussion boards. Removing the patch brings system speed back to
normal, according to these users.
Microsoft is aware of the issue and is investigating it, said Stephen
Toulouse, a security program manager with Microsoft's security
"We have been made aware of some isolated cases of customers
experiencing performance issues after applying the patch," he said,
adding that Microsoft is going by the online reports. No customers
have called Microsoft's helpdesk with the problem, according to
The patch, which Microsoft calls the Q811493 hotfix, was distributed
via Microsoft's security Web site and the automatic Windows Update
service. It fixes a security flaw in the Windows kernel, the core of
the Windows operating system. The vulnerability is rated "important"
by Microsoft, one notch below the highest level on the vendor's
severity rating scheme.
The flaw allows an attacker to raise his privilege level on a
vulnerable system. However, to exploit the flaw an attacker needs to
be able to log on to a system, either at the computer or via a
terminal connection, mitigating the risk.
Users advising other users online suggest home users experiencing
system slowdowns remove the patch as corporate environments with
terminal servers and client systems accessed by multiple users are
most at risk. Microsoft, however, urges all customers to apply the
patch and call the Microsoft helpdesk if there are any performance
issues afterward, Toulouse said.