Bugs, Old File Dates in New Microsoft Patches

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2003-11-14 Print this article Print

Internet Explorer patches introduce scrollbar bugs, while file dates on patches to FrontPage Server Extentions indicate that the fixes were finalized many months ago.

Users have been reporting problems with some of the security patches and other updates recently released by Microsoft Corp. The Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer, which addresses numerous security flaws in Internet Explorer 6, introduces bugs involving the scrollbar. After the patch is applied, the page scrolls up or down twice when the user clicks once in the empty areas of the scrollbar. Clicking on the scrollbar arrows or dragging the scrollbar thumb works correctly.

This problem has been reported in Microsofts public support newsgroups, and we have confirmed it ourselves. According to the Microsoft "MVP" monitoring the newsgroup, Microsoft is aware of the problem.

We have also confirmed two other problems with the patch reported in the same newsgroups. When the scrollbar is clicked, text selected on the page is deselected. Also, the window resizeBy, resizeTo, moveBy or moveTo functions generate an "Access Denied" error that didnt appear before the patch.

Although the patch for the flaw titled "Buffer Overrun in Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions Could Allow Code Execution," released on Nov. 11, has been rated "Critical" by Microsoft, the dates of the files composing the patch indicate that it was completed some time ago.

The various versions of the patch, for different products and versions of Windows that contain the FrontPage Server Extensions, all contain multiple files with various dates, but in all cases the only recent files are related to the patching installation code and not the patch itself. The patch file for Windows XP is dated Aug. 6, 2003, while the SharePoint Team Services version is dated Jan. 21, 2003. Atypically for patch descriptions such as this, the file descriptions in the Security Update Information section do not contain file dates.

We contacted Microsoft for comment on these reports, but the company has not yet responded.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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