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Microsoft Criticized for Outlook Love Bug Patch; Changes Tune

In the wake of the Love Bug virus debacle, Microsoft had announced a new Outlook patch that the company initially planned to release on the Web during the week ending May 26. The intent of this patch was to prevent automated access to the Outlook Address Book and prevent users from opening any executable file received as an attachment or any hyperlink that might lead to an executable file. The response from users and analysts alike was negative, and Microsoft has changed its plan to accommodate the criticisms. The company announced late Wednesday, May 24, that it will delay the Outlook patch until the week ending June 2. Microsoft now plans to include the ability to modify the list of restricted files. Many users criticized Microsoft for overkill. In the words of one anonymous posting, "That's like killing a moth with a sledgehammer." Many users send Visual Basic (VB) scripts, executables, batch files, and hyperlinks as part of their daily traffic. Microsoft's initial plan would have prevented any such action: Administrators could have added to the restricted files list, but not removed any files from it. GartnerGroup analyst Chris LeTocq quickly fired off a Gartner report, in which he attacked Microsoft for making its patch overly burdensome. He pointed out that the patch required users to install the full Office 2000 Suite, Service Release 1. He also argued that the requirement for manual user affirmation every time an application tries to access the Outlook Address Book would interfere with many programs, such as Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) synchronization programs. An IDC analyst pointed out that the patch would have killed many basic functions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, including JavaScript and VB script execution, and ActiveX calls.

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