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BugBlog Bug of the Month

Every month the BugBlog picks its Bug of the Month, representing the most significant bug found in the past month. Usually, it is a single bug that is either particularly harmful or affects lots of users.

This month is different. The Bug of the Month goes to Microsoft, not for a single bug but for their body of work over the past month. Think of it as one of those lifetime achievement Oscars.

Why Microsoft? Well consider that on this month's Patch Tuesday, April 11, they released five security bulletins. Three of them fixed critical flaws in Microsoft Internet Explorer, in Windows Explorer, and in the Microsoft Data Access Components. There was also an important update for Outlook Express and a moderate update for Front Page. That's an impressive bunch of bugs, but that really wasn't what won the award for Microsoft. What clinched the win for them was how many problems were generated by these patches.

The Windows Explorer patch had to be re-released on April 26 to fix incompatibility problems the original patch had with the Hewlett-Packard Share-to-Web program and with some older NVIDIA graphics card drivers. These third-party apps are older but are still in use on lots of computers.

The patch for Internet Explorer, where security was tightened to help guard against rogue web sites, also caused problems for legitimate web sites that used ActiveX commands. Those sites needed to re-write their pages to keep users from having to click multiple times. Third-party applications from Siebel and Google were also affected. Part of the problem was that Microsoft mixed non-security changes in behavior along with the security patches in the comprehensive upgrade, a decision roundly criticized by many. (For example, see eWeek at http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1952445,00.asp.)

There were also problems with the Outlook Express patch. There were numerous postings on Microsoft's own message boards saying the MS06-016 patch for Outlook Express caused the address book to disappear. Also, form-style messages couldn't be sent from web pages. If you removed the patch, then the problems went away. If you have Windows Update set to work automatically, however, the patch may get re-installed the next day.

So for both the bugs and the buggy way they were patched, Microsoft wins this special Bug of the Month.

Previous Bugs of the Month

April 2006: Adobe Macromedia Flash Player

March 2006: Microsoft Windows Media Player

Feb 2006: Apple QuickTime

Jan 2006: Microsoft WMF Bug

Dec 2005: Sony's Secret DRM Scheme Leaves Users Exposed

November 2005: Four Separate Bugs Leave Windows Open to Takeover

October 2005: Acrobat Screws Up MS Word

September 2005: Apple Security Update Breaks 64-bit Apps

August 2005: Cisco IOS Vulnerable to IPv6 bug

July 2005: RealNetworks Fixes Four Bugs in Their Media Player

June 2005: Flawed Rollout for Netscape 8

May 2005: TCP/IP Fix for Windows

April 2005: Denial of Service against Symantec Norton AntiVirus

March 2005: IDN Spoofing Bug

February 2005: Windows Animated Cursor Bug

January 2005: Windows Firewall Problems with Dial-up connections

The Bug of the Month is also posted at Blogcritics.org