Microsoft Cleans up Bugs After Biggest Patch Release

Illustration: Harry Campbell
After releasing its largest-ever group of security patches two weeks ago, Microsoft has done a little cleaning up.

Over the past few days, the company has re-released two security updates and issued a workaround for a Windows CryptoAPI patch that caused Microsoft's own instant-messaging server to crash.

"This is the patch month that will not die," said Susan Bradley, chief technology officer with Tamiyasu, Smith, Horn and Braun, an accountancy. She added that the Communicator issue was "a big one to miss," because Microsoft is usually careful about testing its security updates with its own products.

Scott Turner, network systems administrator with the Public Health Institute in Sacramento, California, noticed the bug immediately after installing Microsoft's updates. "We deployed the patch," he said. "When I came in the next day, nobody could connect" to Communicator.

According to a support article on Microsoft's Web site, the MS09-056 update disables several services that Communications Server needs in order to operate. The bug affects Live Communications Server 2005, Office Communications Server 2007 and evaluation versions of Office Communicator 2007.

Microsoft has released a workaround for the problem, but Turner hasn't yet been able to try it out. He's had to disable the MS09-056 update in the meantime to get his company's Communicator users up and running.

Another buggy patch fixed over the past few days was the MS09-043 Office update, first released back in August. This was apparently misconfigured so that customers who use Microsoft update tools such as Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) were given bad scan results. Customers who use Microsoft's tools may believe they're fully patched, when in fact they're not due to this bug, said Eric Schultze, an independent security consultant.

Those customers should re-run their update tools to be sure that they're patched, he added.

The issue affects customers who are running the Microsoft Office Access Runtime 2003, but not any Office products, a Microsoft spokesman said via e-mail. "Essentially, the security update installer detection logic was updated to include an uncommon scenario, where a customer only installed the Microsoft Office Access Runtime 2003 without fully installing the Office 2003 suite or other individual Office 2003 products. Those who are running in this scenario should apply the re-released bulletin immediately."

Microsoft said it also corrected some "detection entries" and "file and registry key verification information" in an update to the MS09-062 patch, released Wednesday.

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