Microsoft updates code removal tool, passes on patches

Microsoft said it had no security patches to release Tuesday, just the second time the company has skipped its monthly security patch update.

Microsoft released a new version of a software tool that removes infections from common computer viruses and worms, but held off from issuing and software patches Tuesday.

The company said that testing of security patches and quality control kept it from releasing any security updates in March, just one month after it barraged customers with 12 security updates to fix 16 vulnerabilities in Windows, Microsoft Office and other products.

The Redmond, Washington, company did issue a new version of its Windows Malicious Software Removal tool, the third such update since the company began releasing monthly updates of the tool in January. The updated tool adds features to detect and remove malicious code placed on computers infected with the Bagle, Bropia, Sober, Sobig and Goweh worms, as well as 160 new variants of the Gaobot Trojan horse program and 11 new versions of MyDoom, according to information provided by the company. (See: www.microsoft.com/malwareremove.)

On the issue of software updates, Microsoft held true to guidance it issued last week that it would not release any bulletins in March. The company cited "significant testing focus to help ensure customers will receive updates that are of a high quality" as one reason for the sudden famine of security patches. "Occasionally the testing process and our strict focus on quality can result in a month where no security updates are released, as is the case today," the company said in an e-mail statement.

Microsoft began issuing monthly security bulletins in October 2003. Since then, the company has only failed to release a security bulletin once before, in December 2003.

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