Enable blocked Security Updates on Windows 7 without installing antivirus

The Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities have by far been one of the worst vulnerability in last couple of years or so. Software patches have already been issued, but the problem seems to run deeper than that. Meanwhile, the patches started to act up and caused some computers to freeze or boot sporadically. As of now Intel has already issued corrected patches and has fixed the flaws for the most of the vulnerability. The patches made for the Windows OS as well, and it was only then that Microsoft observed that many antivirus applications were incompatible with the update and were throwing up blue screen errors.

The Meltdown and Spectre problem with Security Updates

The incompatibility issue destabilized Windows, and thus as a preventive measure, Microsoft decided to withhold security patches from all version of Windows. Meanwhile, the company conveyed to the antivirus makers and asked them to set a registry key which will help flag their antivirus as compatible with the newly installed patches.

The problem

Well, Microsoft just didn’t stop at that, and they made a rule that the security updates will be withheld until and unless a particular registry key is present. Perhaps Microsoft hoped that with this rule in place the anti-virus companies would show greater compliance, As expected in March this year Microsoft withdrew the limitation for Windows 10 users. However, the restriction was still maintained for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 users.

In the newer versions of Windows (10 and 8.1) the registry is automatically set by the anti-virus, and there is no issue as such. However, you are in trouble if you happen to run Windows 7 with no antivirus. In this case, since there is no anti-virus to set the registry key, Microsoft withholds the future Windows update. Strangely enough, you will be stuck without any Windows Update, a feature designed to improve the safety of your system has inadvertently blocked your security updates.

The Solution

The solution to this was neatly hidden in Microsoft’s support documents. Before we proceed, the solution to this problem is two folds. Firstly, all of this can be sorted out by installing the free Microsoft Security Essentials. Once installed it will create a security key for your Windows 7.

Another solution is to set the registry value manually and thus unblock the security updates. In order to do so is enter the registry value from Microsoft’s support site.

Open the registry editor and head to the location mentioned below,

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\QualityCompat

Now right click the QualityCompat key and Choose New>DWORD Value and enter the value as follows-

cadca5fe-87d3-4b96-b7fb-a231484277cc

Let the value be unchanged from the default “0x00000000”.

Now you can close the Registry editor, and your Windows 7 machine should start downloading the latest updates.

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The author Hemant Saxena is a post-graduate in bio-technology and has an immense interest in following Windows, Office and other technology developments. Quiet by nature, he is an avid Lacrosse player. Creating a System Restore Point first before installing a new software, and being careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware is recommended.