A bumper crop of Microsoft patches will be released next week, including nine fixes for Windows flaws.
At least one of the updates for the Windows operating system is rated "critical," its highest rating, Microsoft said Thursday in a posting to its TechNet site. The forewarning is part of the company's program to give regular computer users notice of monthly security bulletins before the patches themselves are released.
There will be 13 updates in total, Microsoft said. That includes a critical flaw affecting Office and Visual Studio, and another critical flaw involving Windows, Windows Media Player and MSN Messenger. Also on the way are a patch for an "important" vulnerability in .Net Framework and a fix for "moderate" problems with SharePoint Services and Office.
Microsoft's security updates have come under the microscope in the past month. Russian experts said they had discovered a way for intruders to get past a protective element of Service Pack 2, and a Romanian security service provider said that a critical patch issued by Microsoft in January did not fix all the problems in the HTML Help ActiveX control in Windows.
The software giant's patch process itself was tapped by attackers, who sent out a fake e-mail purporting to be a Windows security bulletin. The message attempted to persuade people into downloading and installing an attached Trojan horse.
The latest fixes will be released on Feb. 8, Microsoft said in its posting. The company has set a schedule of sending out security updates on the second Tuesday of each month.