During all the Meltdown / Spectre hassle, I updated to latest BIOS version 1.4.4.
As stated by Dell I excepted this update to fix the issues addressed by Intel Intel-SA-00086.
Well the update did not fix the issue so I started digging deeper.
What I found out:
At some point in time the possibility to update Management Engine Firmware has been disable (during a BIOS update?).
So MEInfo tells me
Local FWUpdate Disabled
And what really makes me shudder is that obviously the Management Engine Firmware version is ancient.
FW Version 220.127.116.114
It seems my laptop is still running a 2015(!) firmware version.
I asked around in forums an really a lot of Alienware 17r3 users are experiencing this. And there seems no way to update the firmware.
You always end up like this:
Intel (R) Firmware Update Utility Version: 18.104.22.16848 Copyright (C) 2007 - 2018, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Communication Mode: MEI Error 8719: Firmware update cannot be initiated because Local Firmware update is disabled
What is even stranger.
One guy had to order a replacement mainboard. And when he updated to 1.4.4 BIOS afterwards, also the Management Engine Firmware was updated to a 11.8 version fixing Intel-SA-00086.
Well this all seems as if Dell is delivering Management Engine Firmware updates, that cannot be installed this way by regular customers since Dell has locked the update path they are trying to use?
This cannot stay like this and definitely needs to be supported and fixed. You cannot leave customers of >2000$ laptops like this!
I have been communicating with @Alienware-Eimy about the bios problem that was released on Jan. I am talking about bios 1.4.4 January version. Apparently this bios caused problems with our motherboard. As of the moment there is no solution to this. If you scroll down further in this forum, there are loads of thread with bios 1.4.4 causing problems. There is no solution to the bios problem that was released on Jan. The only way to solve this problem is to replace your motherboard with a older bios version. Once you have that you can update bios again to bios 1.4.4 February version which will patch the Intel ME Firmware. BASICALLY DELL ALIENWARE HAS PAKED US UP. They gave me false hope and told me they will replace my motherboard due to the problem which they caused. But apparently DELL UK UNISYS agent who was a mor0n keeps booking an appointment with me to do the replacement motherboard even without my knowledge and then once I told him my availability he agreed. But after a few days(which the day we didn't plan or agreed) he then called me again and said he will go to my house to do the replacement. I kept telling him I am only available on the day which we agreed on his first call. That was that. After a day I contacted @Alienware-Eimy about a possible solution but he told me that I have been cancelling the appointments for the motherboard replacement. Apparently it was the DELL UK UNISYS who has been reporting to DELL UK DISPATCH TEAM that I was the one cancelling the appointments. Now @Alienware-Eimy has told me I am not qualified to get the motherboard replacement due to being out of warranty. BUT ON THE FIRST PLACE WHEN I FIRST CONTACTED @Alienware-Eimy i HAVE ALREADY TOLD HIM/HER THAT IAM OUT OF WARRANTY. SO BASICALLY SHE/HE KNOWS. WHEN I WAS FIRST OFFERED TO HAVE THE MOTHERBOARD REPLACEMENT SHE/HE SAID IT WOULD JUST BE A ONE TIME OFF AS I AM OUT OF WARRANTY AND THEY ARE HELPING ME BECAUSE OF THE PROBLEM THAT DELL HAS CAUSED. ALL OF THAT IS NONSENSE. NO MOTHERBOARD REPLACEMENT. I AM LEFT FOR DEAD. I WOULD SUGGEST NOT TO BUY ANY DELL PRODUCT AS THEY JUST SCR3W THERE CUSTOMERS. I AM ASSUMING THAT THIS IS A MARKETING STRATEGY SO THAT WE WILL BE FORCE TO BUY A NEW ONE. ANYWAYS IF EVER YOU WILL FIND A SOLUTION PLEASE LET US KNOW. THANK YOU.
I still find it hard to believe that Dell **bleep** up so severe that they cannot update ME firmware without replacing the motherboard. I mean, they have the BIOS signing keys and all.
I would not even think Intel has made it possible to "bake in" a ME firmware version and completely disable future updates. That would be stupid. And it would be even more stupid from Dell to use the possibility.
"Local Update" will be enabled again after clearing the CMOS by shortening the CLRP1 pins on the mainboard. After that the ME firmware update will be possible either by applying the official BIOS update 1.4.4 or by manually applying it like mentioned in the original post.