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Critical Windows fix on the way

Next week's patches will carry a maximum rating of "critical," Microsoft says in its advance advisory notice.

Microsoft has announced that it will release three patches for its Windows operating system next week.

The fixes, which will carry a maximum threat rating of "critical," will be issued Tuesday, the company said. Under its two-month-old advance notification program, Microsoft typically gives the public early notice of the number of updates it plans to deliver and of the severity of the vulnerabilities the updates fix.

The only other detail the software giant revealed Thursday was that people may have to restart their Windows systems for the patches to take effect.

Microsoft did not say whether the patches will fix several three-month-old flaws in Internet Explorer. A security group released code at the end of December that demonstrates how to take advantage of the security holes and compromise a computer. That disclosure caused a security information company to raise the threat of those flaws to "extremely critical" on Friday.

Perceived security problems with Internet Explorer have resulted in the top browser shedding market share to its open-source rival Firefox.