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One critical Windows patch coming

After a hefty patch load in October, Microsoft is planning for only one security fix this month.

Microsoft will release one critical security update for Windows Tuesday, a breeze compared to the nine bulletins it unloaded last month -- three of which fixed critical flaws in its streaming media software architecture, Internet Explorer and other key operating-system components.

The question is whether this update will cause unexpected problems like those users experienced after the August and October patch releases.

In addition to the single update for Windows, Microsoft said on its TechNet site that its malicious software removal tool will be updated but that no non-security, high-priority updates are scheduled. The Windows update will require a restart and will be detectable using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA), the company added.

As it does each month, Microsoft warned, "Although we do not anticipate any changes, the number of bulletins, products affected, restart information and severities are subject to change until released."

The single bulletin will likely come as a relief to IT administrators who had to contend with unexpected glitches caused by the last two patch releases.

Microsoft acknowledged in two new advisories Wednesday that two recent security updates for Internet Explorer can break the functionality of Web sites that use certain custom applications. The problematic patches were delivered in the August MS05-038 bulletin and last month's MS05-052.

Both fixes could tamper with ActiveX controls used to boost Web site functionality. The MS05-038 patch can also break Java applications. Once the patches are installed, certain custom applications will cease to function in Internet Explorer, the software giant said. Microsoft has had to fix other glitches in recent patches.

The company found that MS05-051, for example, blocked users from logging on to Windows, blocked certain applications from running or installing; kept the Windows firewall from starting; and emptied the network connections folder.

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