Windows users prepped for bumper Patch Tuesday

Patch Tuesday

Microsoft is preparing a bumper crop of software updates in its penultimate Patch Tuesday of 2014, with a slew of critical fixes in the pipeline for Windows and Internet Explorer users.

The software giant is planning to push out 16 updates in total from Tuesday 11 November. Five of them have been designated "critical", while a further nine have been deemed "important". The remaining updates are classified as "moderate".

All versions of Windows from Vista onwards are treated to a total of nine updates this time around, ranging from "critical" to "moderate" risk, but the same patches don't apply to all versions of the operating system.

For example, updates 5, 7, 14 and 15, which address a mix of elevation of privilege, information disclosure and security feature bypass issues, don't apply to Windows 8 or 8.1 systems, whereas Windows 7 and Vista are exempt from 5,7,13 and 14.

Windows RT and RT 8.1 users have one fewer patch to install, as updates 5,7,13, 14 and 15 don't apply to them.

Furthermore, one of the "critical" updates also covers all currently supported versions of Internet Explorer, from version 6 to 11, running on Windows Server 2003 SP2.

Ross Barrett, senior manager of security engineering at Rapid 7, said this month's update is a big one, given that every supported version of Windows requires a "critical" update.

"The patching priority will follow the critical issues, with the Internet Explorer patch being the most exploitable attack vector and the most likely to have already been involved with active attacks in the wild," he added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.