Of late I had noticed a general “slowness” on my laptop, and spikes in CPU use when none should occur. The first thought was that perhaps I’d picked up some bit of malware. I do not run any sort of virus scanner on my machines (my kids, yes, but not mine). None of my machines have ever picked up anything nasty (and I do mean never). But perhaps one of the cleverer bad guys out the figured out a way around my habitual caution.

Ran a virus scanner … nothing. Ran SpyBot … nothing.

The CPU use was occurring in one of the standard anonymous svchost processes. Checked for anything I might have installed lately that could be the problem. Nope. A search on “svchost CPU use” yields a bunch of … mostly folklore. The one useful bit of advice was to install Process Explorer from the familiar SysInternals site (invaluable to a software developer on Windows).

With Process Explorer was able to see the thread burning up CPU was spending it’s time in wbemcore. Another search. Turns out the first item returned contained specific instructions that solved my problem.

But … even I find this problem obscure! This is a new re-installation of Windows XP, only a couple months old. How is some poor average user going to solve a problem like this? Their only recourse is the re-install Windows (and all their applications), or buy a new computer.

Clearly this is a bit less than ideal.