5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Jan. 26

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week is – yet again – Intel, for the ongoing saga of the Meltdown and Spectre exploits. This week the company had to warn customers and partners to stop deploying Intel patches for Spectre because they were causing "unpredictable system behavior."

Also making the list this week are PC makers Dell, HP and Lenovo, whic had to scramble to roll back firmware updates intended to fix the Spectre problem; Qualcomm for getting hit with a $1.23 billion fine by the European Commission for alleged anti-competitive behavior; Oracle for facing a $32 million refund claim from Rimini Street in their long-running copyright infringement case; and Microsoft for having to fix an Office security patch that is removing attachments from some emails.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's 5 Companies That Came To Win roundup.

Intel Tells Partners, Customers To Stop Issuing Spectre Patches, Citing 'Unpredictable System Behavior'

Intel continues to scramble to develop and issue fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. This week the chipmaker was forced to tell OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers and endusers to stop deploying patches the company had developed to fix the Spectre problem.

Following reports that the patches were causing reboot issues for Intel chips, Intel acknowledged that the patches were causing reboots and other "unpredictable system behavior."

The ongoing fallout from the Meltdown and Spectre problems spurred Linus Torvalds, noted developer and creator of the Linux operating system kernel, to criticize Intel's attempts to close the Spectre vulnerability, calling the efforts "insane" and the patches themselves "complete garbage." Torvalds even questioned the honesty of Intel executives in their efforts to fix the problems and suggested that legal concerns, rather than technical considerations, were driving Intel's response.

PC Makers Roll Back Firmware Updates After Intel Nixes Spectre Patches

Windows PC makers Dell, HP and Lenovo found themselves on the front lines of the Spectre vulnerability issue this week when they were forced to roll back BIOS firmware updates they had issued to deal with the Spectre exploit. The companies had to return users to previous firmware versions and issue security advisories after Intel warned that patches it developed for Spectre were causing chip reboot issues.

Pivotal, meanwhile, issued a high-severity advisory warning to its customers reporting that all versions of Pivotal software products could be "potentially affected" by the Spectre vulnerability and the company was awaiting patches from other vendors before it could act.

Apple, however, managed this week to distribute security updates for Macs running its older Sierra and El Capitan operating systems to protect against the Meltdown vulnerability.

Qualcomm Hit With $1.23 Billion Fine By European Commission

U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm was hit with a $1.23 billion fine by the European Commission this week, which charged that the U.S. chipmaker abused its dominant market position when it offered Apple incentives to buy LTE chips exclusively from the company.

The EC alleged that Qualcomm paid Apple billions of dollars to use Qualcomm's LTE chips in its iPhones and iPads. The EC charged that Qualcomm's actions constituted anti-competitive behavior intended to block Qualcomm competitors and "denied consumers and other companies more choice and innovation."

Qualcomm has vowed to appeal the EC ruling.

Oracle Faces A $32 Million Claim From Rimini Street

In the legal case that just won't go away, IT services company Rimini Street this week filed a claim against Oracle seeking to have $32 million cut from earlier fines and court costs levied against Rimini following a 2015 trial.

The long-running copyright dispute stems from Rimini Street's hosting of Oracle software and use of Oracle support materials to provide support services to Oracle software users. Following the 2015 trial, and in subsequent court rulings in the case, Rimini Street was hit with fines and court costs of nearly $124 million.

But earlier this month the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, while reaffirming the original court finding, reduced the judgment against Rimini by $50 million. Because Rimini Street has already paid the judgments, the company said at the time that it expects a $50 million refund from Oracle.

This week Rimini Street filed another petition with the appeals court saying that Oracle owes it an additional refund of $32 million, arguing that the original judgment was faulty in calculating interest and non-taxable costs in the case.

Microsoft To Issue New Fix For Outlook Security Bug Patch

Intel wasn't the only vendor struggling with updates and fixes this week. Microsoft this week acknowledged that a security patch for Office software released Jan. 9 is stripping attachments from some forwarded emails.

Shortly after the security patch was released, Microsoft began receiving reports that Outlook was removing attachments from some forwarded plain text emails, according to a story on The Register website.

This week Microsoft scrambled to issue instructions for users to work around the problem. The company said in a support post that it plans to issue an update to fix the fix, but that won't be available until the February "Patch Tuesday" releases.