Next Patch Tuesday has few security updates, big Vista reliability fix

In its monthly advance notice the weekend before the second Tuesday of the month, Microsoft said it will only be addressing four security issues this time around, two dealing with Windows. But a surprisingly big Vista bug fix is under way.

If you think about it, the relative security of Windows Vista hasn't been the subject of much debate recently. If there's any problem consumers have with it, whether it's born out of market perception or real-world experience, it's a feeling that it's not all that reliable.

So perhaps it's not such a bad thing that next week's Patch Tuesday round of fixes from Microsoft will focus less on security -- with only four issues in that category to be addressed there -- and more on Vista's overall reliability. A single performance update announced by Microsoft on June 24 will tackle some real-world problems that Vista users have been facing, according to automated feedback the company's servers receive when Internet-connected Vista users crash.

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Here's a little annoyance: Have you ever tried to delete a user account from Vista's Control Panel, only to be responded to by your system sitting there in an endless loop, doing nothing? Then when you reboot, the account's not gone? That's one of the issues this performance update will address.

And what is it about Vista, after you leave your computer on for an "extended period of time" (A day? Two days?) makes it decide that Excel is no longer a valid application for you to run? How many times has this happened to you, to paraphrase a TV infomercial? That's another bug Vista users should find gone, hopefully.

There's also interesting little problems such as certain builds of NVidia drivers that cause high-definition audio streams to sound like they've been fed through a chipper-shredder, and Windows Mail (the replacement for Outlook Express) triggering a crash when traffic monitoring is enabled through Windows, and e-mail security through ZoneAlarm is active at the same time. These are the little, everyday affairs that some people really look forward to seeing gone. Quite possibly, they impact more users than the average newly discovered vulnerability.

It'll be nice to see how well this latest round of patches addresses these and a host of other Vista-related issues.

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