If You’re Seeing High CPU Usage in Windows 10, Grab This Update

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Apparently, a persistent issue with high CPU usage has been making life miserable for some Windows 10 users. Microsoft has released Windows 10 KB5001391, with some quality-of-life fixes for folks affected by random spikes of high CPU consumption with nothing in particular behind them.

KB5001391 includes a number of low-level fixes we won’t address here, but there are a few bigger-picture items to call out. You can now set a custom time limit before a Windows Mixed Reality headset falls asleep, and Microsoft has fixed problems with media playback on hybrid devices running dGPUs on iGPU-powered displays. Other included improvements include a now-fixed deadlock in NTFS — a deadlock is when two applications running simultaneously each prevent the other from accessing critical resources, thereby ensuring that neither application can function — and multiple unspecified problem resolutions in the Windows Server Storage Migration Service.

Windows Creators Update Start Screen

The periodically high CPU usage issue has been caused by a race condition, but Microsoft didn’t provide much detail on how the problem was being triggered. Race conditions occur when timing-sensitive operations compete with each other with the potential to affect the final result of a calculation in non-deterministic ways. A race condition between two threads writing data to a common memory address might leave each thread continually mucking up the work the other is attempting to do.

Windows 10’s H1 2021 update is expected to drop later this month, but most of the major features have been pushed back to later this year. Windows Hello now supports multiple cameras, Windows Defender Application Guard is expected to open documents more quickly, and Microsoft claims it has improved WMI Group Policy performance to better support remote work scenarios. The other improvements originally expected to tip up in the May update have been pushed back to the fall 2021 Windows 10 update.

Microsoft recently crowed about hitting 1.3B devices on Windows 10 some six years after launch. As my colleague, Ryan Whitwam recently discussed, Microsoft missed its original goal to hit 1B devices within three years due to the failure of its smartphone business. The pandemic has been good to Microsoft, just as it’s been good for a lot of technology companies, with 300 million new Windows devices added in just 12 months. There are long-term concerns about the threat that Chromebooks pose to Microsoft’s education business, but Windows revenue has boomed these past 13 months.

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