Microsoft plans to deliver a festive hamper of 14 security updates next week, three of which are designed to tackle critical remote code execution flaws.
The critical updates plug serious holes in Windows XP, Vista, and (to a lesser extent) Windows 7. On the server side, both Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 are vulnerable, but only one vulnerability applicable is applicable to Windows 2008.
The final Patch Tuesday of 2011 is most notable for including a fix for the Windows vulnerability exploited by the Duqu (sibling of Stuxnet) worm. Five of the less severe yet "important" bulletins affect various versions of Office. The patch batch is also set to include security patches for Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.
Although unveiling a fully laden hamper just before the holiday season is far from ideal, sysadmins can take heart from the fact that the percentage of Microsoft's patches addressing critical vulnerabilities has fallen from 70 per cent of security patches in 2006 to just 30 per cent this year, according to vulnerability management firm Lumension.