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Microsoft Takes Issue with Gartner Bulletin

Microsoft Corp. officials rankled at a recent bulletin from consultancy Gartner alleging that an Internet Explorer patch release was botched and undermines Microsoft's credibility on recent security promises.

The trouble with Gartner's interpretation, Microsoft says, is that its quality control process caught a problem with the packaging of the patch before users were broadly alerted that the patch was ready.

While the patch was on the Web for about an hour on Feb. 7 before it was pulled, Microsoft had not yet sent out its standard e-mail alert to 250,000 subscribers that lets them know about new problems and where to find fixes for them.

"That's when it's done, when we put out a quarter of a million bulletins," a Microsoft spokesman said.

That patch was reposted and the e-mail bulletin was sent four days later on Feb. 11.

It was not clear how many users downloaded the patch when it was available Feb. 7, although the Microsoft spokesman says the bits of the patch were fine. The problem, he says, was with the packaging and a lack of documentation.

The Gartner bulletin came from analyst John Pescatore, who rose to prominence last year for his notorious bulletin advising IT managers to consider replacing IIS Web servers with Apache due to security concerns.

The Gartner bulletin on the IE patch, a Gartner FirstTake called "Microsoft Must Plan -- Not Patch -- for Software Security," used the recall of the IE patch to declare that Microsoft is not delivering on its security promises and to discount the code review Microsoft has been conducting in February.

The Gartner FirstTake says that Microsoft announced the patch then pulled it down off the Web.

The IE patch, Microsoft Security Bulletin MS02-005, includes patches for six new IE problems, three of them critical, and also rolls together all current fixes for IE.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.