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Model Number A1707. Released June 2017, this MacBook Pro features Kaby Lake processors up to the 2.8 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.8 GHz.

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Stuck at “critical software update is required” screen during startup

My MBP doesn’t boot up.

This happened to me after few days of using the new macOS Catalina. When I turn on it says a critical update is required but keeps saying that an error occurred when I try to install.

I’ve tried updating with wifi, personal hotspot and with LAN adapter but I get same screen. I have also tried the clean install with and empty disk (command + R) but shows same screen. I also tried factory OS install (shift option command R) but fails after downloading OS. The NVRAM and SMC reset does not help.

However, I am able to use my mac from safe boot mode but touchbar, keyboard backlight and sound does not work from safe mode. I can also use my mac booting from portable usb windows drive but again touchbar, keyboard backlight and sound does not work (everything used to work from the same usb drive before the critical software thing happed).

The internet says it has to do something with touchbar unit, but I didn’t have any issues before. Do you think replacing the touchbar unit will solve the problem?

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Beantwoord! Bekijk het antwoord Dit probleem heb ik ook

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I just started having the exact same issue after upgrading to Catalina. If I unplug all external USBC peripherals it boots up no issue. I can then plug in peripherals once booted up. If I let it go to sleep with these plugged in, it crashes and gets the error message as poster above described. To be continued.

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Any updates on this?

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Nope, I'm still having the exact same problem. I ended up buying a new MBP.

Replacing the touch bar controller didn't help, I have tested the board with everything disconnected ( disconnected display, touch bar, power button, trackpad etc.) only battery connected, and an external display. It still boots to the same screen, my guess is that the problem is with the motherboard itself.

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@dzavoo - Did you get the system looked at? Did you bring it into the Apple Store to see what they said? There has been some chatter on Catalina upgrades bricking systems.

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@danj I live in Armenia where we don't have official apple store, but we have apple autosized repair center. The repair center basically did the same thing as I did (installing different versions of macOS including Mojave and sierra) and they told me that the problem is with the touch bar unit and the solution might be replacing the top case (entire top case with battery and keyboard etc..) for $800-$900. Of course I didn't agree to do that because I think the problem is with the motherboard.

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At this point you need to wipe the drive and re-install your OS from an external OS installer drive.

First backup anything important off your drive (TimeMachine)

Next create a bootable OS installer using another Mac system, I personally would stick with Mojave for now as Catalina is still a bit buggy! In any case here’s how to create both:

Restart your system then using the Option key to enter into the Startup Manager select the USB-C installer drive. Once started go to the menu and select Disk Utility and then delete all of the partitions, then reformat the drive as one GUID APFS partition.

Reference: Mac startup key combinations

Now exit Disk Utility and start the OS installer letting it do its thing! Your system will reboot a few times and the screen will also go dark so don’t panic!!

In a few hours your system should have finished the OS install. Now before doing anything else apply all of the needed updates. Again, your system will reboot as Apple has updated the system firmware a few times depending which macOS you are installing.

Did that work?

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Thank you very much! I’m going to try that and I’ll let you know about my progress

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UPDATE: I tried installing both Mojave and Catalina, when I try to install Mojave it shows an error however Catalina is installing successfully but shows exact same error during startup. I believe I have hardware issue :(

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@dzavoo - What was the error message you got with Mojave during the format or install?

Time to visit an Apple Store! Please let us know what they tell you.

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@dan I have a question.

So I tried every possible software fix (nvram/SMC reset, re-installing different version of macOS from usb device and from internet recovery, also tried to boot from bootable macOS ssd etc.) and everything shows the exact same screen.

I also tried to remove everything from motherboard (disconnected display, touch bar, power button, trackpad etc.) only battery connected, and an external display. and still got the same screen. Does this mean that the problem is 100% with the motherboard?

I also tried to replace the touch bar controller cable (not the entire touch bar unit just the connector cable) do you think I should replace the full touch bar before buying a new motherboard? or it is 100% with the motherboard.

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Yes, you have a logic board failure.

Unlike older models which you can replace the SSD and even older models you could replace the RAM this series has both soldered!

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I sh*t you not....a couple hours after posting this, my 2017 MacBook Pro 15 (A1707) booted up just fine, and the touchbar was working again. This is after 3 days of banging my head on the desk trying to figure out a way around it. I'm thinking the macOS 10.15.3 update had something to do with it, since it just came out and my system updated to it while in Safe Mode.

I do know for a fact what killed it was me wiping the entire drive (all partitions, including the one specifically set aside for the touchbar). It worked perfectly fine until I did this and then re-installed the OS. Why did I do this you ask? I just bought this MBP from someone on Facebook and I wanted to be sure I was starting from a completely clean slate.

Everything I read online says you should not wipe all the partitions on the MBPs with the touchbar, only the main OS partition. This totally smells like a software issue to me and not a hardware issue. Especially since mine was fine until I nuked all the partitions. Also, this site gave me a lot of insight into what I potentially did to create the issue. See the author's 6th attempt (Workflow 6):

The Untouchables - Apples New OS Activation for Touch Bar MacBook Pros

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I checked the touch bar sensors and both the sensors right and left working fine.I had the same story as I erased the full ssd the touchbar is gone. At first critical software update was prohibiting the getting inside my mac but somehow that got resolved. I tried everything for that firmware update but nothing could revive that. There is no control strip service also. I think the software that is running the touchbar is not getting installed during installation as it keeps thinking there is no touch bar in my MBP(1707). can someone tell me if there is anyway to install the control stripbar services in my mac.

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Hey guys,

I had exactly the same problem. This is what I did. I rarely shut down my computer, this time I thought I'll give it a rest. I had Samsung SSD and a WD MyBook Duo both plugged into the USB C ports. Although I have booted with the SSD before no worries, this was the first time with the MyBook Duo. I had the message come up on the boot up screen, I pressed shut down. Booted up again in Safe Boot (hold left shift until Apple logo had loaded half way, release) Got an access to the homescreen. Disabled Wifi and unplugged the MyBook Duo from USB C. Pressed restart and it booted up no worries. I think the culprit here might have been the external hdd. I'm not saying that this is the fix for everyone but if you're having a similar issue and have something plugged into USB C that you've never have before on a boot up, might be helpful to go through the process I did.

Hope somebody finds this useful

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Yes, i was having the same issue, and after unplugged peripheral device from the USB-C port, able to load into logging screen.

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I got similar problem on 06 -01-2021. My macbook pro is 15 inch with touchbar. after a lot of research I was disheartened by reading many blogs where the logic board replacement solution was provided by apple and for many they had replaced their laptops which were covered under warranty.

However after a little bit of research I could conclude that the problem lies in the firmwere update for touchbar which is not in sync with the latest catalina update so when the laptop restarts it cannot find the firmwere for touchbar.

I believe some of the apple OS updates are not synched with the touchbar firmwere thats why this problem occurs.

And the supported firmwere patch is not reachable or is not available for the update.

I addressed this problem by logging in safe mode by pressing Left Shift Key during restart and then signing in to my apple account again and then installing the latest OS mac OS Big Sur version 11.1 which has enabled my touch bar again and also is not giving me any problems after reinstall.

I believe this OS comes with updated Touchbar Firmwere and thats how the problem is resolved.

Hope you guys find this solution helpful cheers.

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Your advice is priceless! You literally saved me almost $900 that I was about to pay for hardware repair to replace either the Top Case Assembly (includes the Touchbar) or the Logic Board.

"I addressed this problem by logging in safe mode by pressing Left Shift Key during restart and then signing in to my apple account again and then installing the latest OS mac OS Big Sur version 11.1 which has enabled my touch bar again and also is not giving me any problems after reinstall."

That solved my problem as well! I think your comment should have more visibility so other people struggling with this problem can see your advice before spending money on hardware repair.

THANK YOU SO MUCH MAN!.

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That's good info dude. Appreciate it.

I'm curious though...

How long does it take for your computer to reboot ..?

You see -- I know how to fix this in some instances; upgrade the unit to either Catalina or 11.x (Big Sur) ... as I believe it stores the touch bar kext differently or something. But what doesn't change is it will still occasionally request the update to be reinstalled during a reboot ... reboots are slower, AND, you literally cannot boot in to Mojave without at least reinstalling that update, if at all (excluding safe mode).

Thanks either way; this is quite the mystery ... as I've seen it now on 3 units.

I will reveal to everyone whatever TF it is if/whence I figure the MFr out.

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@Adrian Morelos

Does your computer boot or reboot as quickly as it did previously ..?

What happens if you attempt to boot in to a Mojave OS on an external drive..?

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I changed the screen for a MBP 2017 with touchbar and afterward it get this problem, clean install and get this message at the end, solved by remove the screen cable from motherboard, since the t1 chip recognized the not original screen, then on the hdmi external, I got to the setup thing to finish my installation. Once done I plug back the cable lcd and now the Mac work normally, also I installed Sierra. Not latest osx

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After exhausted all recovery method, I went to App Genius. Straight away they ask me to change logic board. I refused and I saw your post.

Tried bootable Mojave method.

Immediately after reinstallation able to boot into MacOS. Touch bar working.

Installed all system updates (besides Catalina), and it auto restart while installing system updates, whamp! Hit with critical software update.

So it's a loop again.

(I did replace my screen with a third party repairman due to the 2016 MBP touch bar encountered backlight failed issue). Not sure if this is related.

-Additional update. After 'Try Again' and showing Apple logo, the Touch Bar flashed/blinks around 3 times. Each time less than a second.

-Tried disabled my router firewall, no vail.

Update (05/06/2020)

After reading the TS that he disconnected the display cable, I figured I do the same since my display is not original anymore.

Before dismantling, I figured I performed a SMC reset and connected my Mac to my TV. And somehow it works! I restarted once, and shut down once before power on. No connection to tv is needed now. Touch bar working. Weird.

(Apparently I wrote too soon. 5 mins in mscOS Mojave, the middle of the screen came out something weird and it goes into the boot loop again). Nothing works now.

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I found a way for fixing it by my self.

The Touchbar Controlboard is attached to a flex cable under the Logicboard and for some reason the Touchbar Controller broke due to a clean install maybe? So i bought a new one from AliExpress for 8€ and changed it the replacement was super easy. Only the logicboard has to be removed you dont need a new Touchbar for this. After that all it needs is a reboot with a wired internet connection.

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Hello, you mean replacing the flex cable needs the whole logic board to be removed? I need to remove the fingerprint ID sensor and fan too I believe? (judging by the guide).

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No you don’t have to remove it just unplug it from the logicboard. Both are screwed to the topcase

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Understood. Thanks. I shall purchase one to try it out. I'm now permanently boot into bootcamp. Else it's just a large brick ...

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You can boot into safe mode turn WiFi off and then reboot normally. This allows you to get access to your normal user account with all functionality except the Touchbar.

Important is to turn your WiFi off when you shut it down or putting it in standby

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Christopher: Thanks very much for the knowledge that you have brought to this conversation. Your experience made me wonder if my own issue might be a poorly seated plug. Sure enough, after more than a week of frustration, I carefully re-seated the Touchbar flex cable, and part-way through bootup, the Touchbar lit up and after another minute or so, the boot process completed and I had a completely working Macbook again. So relieved!

This still leaves me with one other A1706 which has failing Touch ID ...

UPDATE: Just fixed the other A1706 as well! It's amazing how little info there is about these two problems (Touch Bar and Touch ID malfunction). What exists points to some kind of hidden T1 firmware that is inaccessible to us. And maybe that's kind of true, but both issues were ultimately resolvable by an end-user here. In my case, the Touch Bar problem was as simple as the flex cable needing re-seating, and the other Mac's Touch ID/fingerprint issue resolved by going back to High Sierra (and probably an SMC reset prior).

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Hi Everyone,

The integrated SSD in my macbook pro 15" A1707 was broken and can't be used anymore, so I did install Catalina into external SSD and stuck with this kind of problem ( A critical software update is required for your Mac….).

Is it even possible to install these firmware updates on an external drive? …If no, a device with a broken internal SSD would no longer be usable/ trash.

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Your hardware should be OK! The issue is a software update glitch. You'll need to find your way to an Apple Store as they have then needed tools to fix this!

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I have to agree that this problem should not have been marked as "Solved", and I think the definitive conclusion -- "Yes, you have a logic board failure" -- is not justified by the facts as presented. The Catalina upgrade clearly broke the OP's TouchBar, a pattern of causation that is seen in many other posts around the 'net. The OP was exhaustive in his efforts, so the next logical step was perhaps to resort to Apple, but that's a very different thing from knowing categorically that the mainboard had failed. Also, your "solution" as marked solved nothing.

I had two A1706 units with Touch issues. I battled away for over a week on both of them, trying all sorts of voodoo. I really started to believe that both machines had a hardware problem, or at the very least, an EFI firmware problem that only Apple could resolve. One of them sprang to life when I re-seated the flex cable. The other only resolved when I fresh-installed High Sierra. OP's issue was more likely to be a software one.

Update (05/30/2020)

It was actually the very same problem on my first machine -- "Critical software update is required." I grouped them together only because TouchID issues are morphologically the same i.e. misleading, non-descript error messages generated by inaccessible firmware corruption. I've posted my own "fix" three times in the discussion here, so that should be enough.

You did duck the main point of my reply though, which was one of basic epistemology. You did not *know* that this was a logic board failure. You *believed* it was, because you could not imagine what was left to change/do. No shame in that -- I reached the same point after more than a week of constant trying. But I am contributing here, as someone with a minor expertise in this particular issue, to say that software can and does break the Touch Bar, and the OP's description of events pointed to the same.

If Apple provided a better error message, and/or better software tools to fix it, then more people could fix it themselves. We do a disservice to people when we casually deem anything a "logic board failure", because that is tantamount to saying, "Don't bother trying to fix it yourself", which goes against the very spirit of this website and its manifesto of self-repair.

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@meowbie - Eric! Join the club! Support the Right to Repair movement!

I don't agree with your assessment. A logic board failure does not always imply a hardware issue! If you thought that then I'm sorry.

Your answer is lost as a comment not an answer! Write a fresh one as an answer clearly explain the issue and the solve! And if you can the why!

All you are doing is sitting on the side lines, its time to step up to the plate and when you are sure of your facts then plant it firmly! A comment is just that it's not an answer! I can't be the only one answering questions.

While I'm admit I should have updated my answer with my comment "Time to visit an Apple Store! Please let us know what they tell you." I think its clear we have to hand the issue over to Apple!

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My 2017 MacBook Pro 15” is literally destroyed after updating to Catalina. The Touch Bar issue made the computer get stuck in the critical software update loop. After bringing my laptop to a local repairman, they tried everything and suggested replacing the logic board. 1.5 years ago this computer was worth $3k now it’s complete trash. Can Apple be held responsible? Anything else I can do to fix it?

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You'll need to find your way to an Apple Store as they have then needed tools to fix your OS.

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So battling this issue on 10-20 machines. 15in 2016-17 Pro’s and We have tried everything excluding the LCD to fix the issue. One unit has a brand new Logic Board and Top Case and still got the critical update error. Have a whole lot of paperweights over here..

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Just delete the EFI PERTITION and then reboot. critical software update will come up immediately.connect to an open internet ( no blocking, which is hard to find now a days) . Boom....

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My first thought is that your enterprise firewall could be blocking the Touchbar firmware download. Try taking one of the units home and see if it can complete the "critical software update."

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It is def the touchbar. I have installed windows on my machine and because it doesn’t recognize the Touch Bar it works flawlessly.

I can boot into recovery mode on the mac, safe mode on the mac, but as soon as regular boot up begins, the touchbar is supposed to light up and that’s when the whole computer reboots and goes to the critical message. I have even booted this system onto another mac through target mode and the OS boots up fine.

I just plan to use this as a windows/linux backup machine for now.

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Did you replace any components on the computer..?

Liquid damage, anything like that ..? Or totally spontaneous..?

Someone I know claims this is the embedded apple iPhone 6 CPU failing ... as they did often on iPhone 6 phones. lol. But, I don't know that he's right. My criteria to believe something as "true" however is more difficult to satisfy than many people...

Is it still working within linux..?

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I have replaced the touchbar, the top case, tested a new Display Assembly, and the worst one of all I even replaced the logic board on one with the update error. Still got the update error. All software related to when you erase the onboard storage via disk utility and it erases the “hidden” touchbar OS

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Wow. This thread is still going on. Well, latest news on my MBP late 2016, A1706.

It suffered all sorts of problems and 2 trips to Apple service center were quoted around $1k for logic board replacement.

I tried all sorts of software related troubleshoot, to no vail.

There is a 1% chance that my MBP can boot into MacOS where the TouchBar was able to light up. This lead me to think it’s either a capacitor or chip that powers the touchbar failed.

I bought a new touchbar however it failed to lit up.

This means the failed capacitor or chip is one attached on the logic board. Sent it to my local repair shop. They confirmed one of the chip, powering the touch bar was burnt. They quoted $200 for chip replacement.

I have sent my MBP in and it should be back in a couple of days. Will update again.

Edward from Singapore

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hey edward! how’s your macbook now?

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had the same issue,

Turns out if I unplug my USB-C Monitor it boots just fine. Then I plug it in after the computer is on and it’s fine.

But can’t boot with the USB-C Monitor plugged in.

Does anyone have any idea if there is a fix for this?

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Hey, Recently In Big Sur I mount the EFI partition and DELETED the embedded OS folder just to check the HORROR back again. I was stuck at “Critical Software Update Needed You cant use this……..bla bla” After deleting EFI partition I knew I had to re-install the OS which will rebuild the EFI but some how after Few tries with downloading the critical update I booted in to “ Option+Command+R” combo and for some reason It booted straight in to My Login Screen. Anyone ELSE can try this?

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Hey, I just want to be sure for the last time that mine is still in Embedded OS error. in my console if i start streaming it show my console says ‘get info time out’ and “ DFR display Not ready possible Hardware error”. Do you guys also Get that?

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Hello, this error happened to me 3 days ago on my Macbook Pro 2016 with touch bar.

My Macbook was in sleep mode but when I opened it up it was crashed. When I restarted it I had this error. After a few reboot and some try in safe mode I actually managed to get back to my session once and my touch bar was working, but then my computer crashed again. Since then I never managed to get passed this error.

I also tried to unplug the touch bar and totaly erase my SSD but no luck. Did someone tried to disconnect it? Is it supposed to work?

I want to get a new logic board but I want to be sure it’s the logic board and not a faulty touch bar which is way less expensive.

Thank you for your help

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Hey buddy -- I have some suggestions ...

1. Try booting in to target mode and installing a version of Mojave (completely updated if you can) via CCC.

If that doesn't work:

2a. Find a Late-2013+ MBP or iMac ...

2b. Mac will need to run 1-version OLDER macOS than you want to install...

2c. You MUST install either Catalina or Newer (just download from Apple).

2d. Boot patient to target mode

2e. If on Mojave, install Catalina | If on Catalina, install Big Sur

2f. Unit must obviously meet all hardware criteria for 10.15 or 11.1

Just follow standard installation process. After, though the issue will be resolved, your computer may still be unable to run Mojave ... and, may boot slower than previously as well as occasionally requiring you install said update.

If unable to install update

- ensure you're connected

- try via LAN if you have the dongles

WEIRD SOLUTION to BOOT REGULARLY (not safe mode):

- After update fails 2-3x

- WAIT ~3 min before retrying (don't let it timeout + reboot ~6min)

GL

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Hey thank you for your help.

I sadly can’t try your solution 1 and 2 since I don’t have any another Mac.

Regarding your weird solution, I have to force my Macbook to shutdown while it’s trying to update and then wait 6 mins before starting it up again ?

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@Jeremie - This is a nonsensical answer, how will a older system fix your's? Its not connected to it per the steps outlined here. The older OS won't have your mac's needed resources so I can't see even if you connected the two systems via TDM it would make any difference.

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@danj I don’t know, I didn’t understand everything but since I don’t have any other Mac I didn’t ask much. Anyway I contacted the support and they seemed to be aware of that issue. The guy asked me to go to an authorised store. I asked if I will have to pay since it seemed to be a problem on their part, he said no but I guess he was just talking about the appointment being free. They will just ask me to pay for a new logic board in the end

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@Jeremie - I've seen mixed results here. Many people got their systems fixed for free from Apple directly and a few got stuck needing a new touch bar (uppercase).

I guess its a roll of the dice ;-{

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Uhm I have  a 2016 MBP and have been getting that “error” message on and off for YEARS. I even got it when the laptop was like 3 days old. Had the laptop replaced by Apple entirely once still getting same critical update screen. Think why would Apple have a critical update that is not listed on the official support Apple com website where ALL downloads are available particularly for OS. As of right now there are no updates for Catalina other than .2 .3 .4 .5 and the combo updates. Previous OSs all have some security updates available. But why would this update not be listed there. I’m still getting it after fresh install and install of the newest available 10.15.5. It makes no sense that Apple would have a critical security update immediately following a OS update. It’s because it’s not Apple—it’s a sign of malware in the efi aka firmware. This type of malware is both well documented and real and has been around since at least 2016

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You say this with such certainty, and yet it's clear that you have little understanding of this problem. The "critical security update" is actually the TouchBar firmware install, because the TouchBar is actually a separate piece of ARM-based hardware with its own OS ("EmbeddedOS"). Anything that interrupts the download process, the installation process or the logic path between the host machine and the TouchBar will generate this error

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Time to visit an Apple Store as they have the magic to fix the OS due to the glitch in the OS updater.

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They magic is changing logicboard for 1000$

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@meowbie You are absolutely right.

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David zal eeuwig dankbaar zijn.
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