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“Firmware,” like its name suggests, is something in between software and hardware.Firmware is actually just a type of software, but it is usually programmed into memory built in to that hardware and runs at a much lower level.Even your USB mouse has firmware that handles interpreting the physical mouse input, communicating with your computer, and powering any lights that may be on your mouse.For some simple devices, the “firmware” can refer to the device’s entire operating system.However, it’s also possible for operating systems like Windows or Linux to load new microcode at boot time.For example, if you want to get the latest Intel microcode for your CPU to protect against Spectre and your PC manufacturer won’t release UEFI updates for your system, Microsoft has an optional Windows update you can install.
For example, everything from a television remote control to a computer hard drive to an aerial drone runs its own firmware. Software refers to the programs, application, and other computer code that runs on a device. So, if you have a Windows PC, the Windows operating system and all the applications you use are software, and the PC itself and its components like the hard disk, CPU, motherboard, mouse, and display are hardware.Microcode updates are generally delivered along with UEFI firmware or BIOS updates.When your computer boots up, the computer’s UEFI firmware or BIOS loads the microcode onto the CPU.For example, your television remote control is running firmware, and there’s almost certainly no way to update it. Your remote control is fine, and you don’t need to worry about it.For many other hardware devices, updating the firmware may sometimes be helpful to fix bugs and deliver minor improvements.
Many manufacturers recommend you only update their device’s firmware if you aren’t experiencing a problem.