Next week's Patch Tuesday will see Microsoft issue three updates that fix "critical" security vulnerabilities in Windows, Office and the .Net framework. The critical designation is Microsoft's most severe rating and usually applies to flaws that can allow a computer to be hijacked with little or no interaction on the part of the user.
All the critical vulnerabilities could lead to the remote execution of code, according to an advanced bulletin posted Thursday on Microsoft's website. The critical patches apply to Excel, Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 and the .Net framework, which is incorporated into most versions of Windows.
Two additional patches on tap for next week will fix "important" vulnerabilities in Office, Publisher and Windows XP Professional. A sixth patch will plug a "moderate" hole in Windows Vista.
Last month, Microsoft issued six patches, four of them for critical flaws.
The software maker has long been in the habit of releasing security updates on the second Tuesday of each month and issuing an advanced outline of the patches on the Thursday before. Starting last month, Microsoft began offering additional details so that IT administrations can better prepare for the fixes. ®