WinInfo Daily UPDATE, April 14, 2004

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In the News

- Microsoft Patches Multiple Security Problems
- Intel Profits Surge 89 Percent as PC Demand Soars

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Patches Multiple Security Problems

Microsoft issued four patches today that fix at least 20 flaws in various Windows versions. Three of the patches are rated critical--the company's highest warning level--because they fix problems that could potentially lead to virus or worm attacks. The fourth patch is rated important. The patches constitute April 2004's monthly security updates, Microsoft says.
The largest of the four patches covers 14 security flaws, including a problem with the Help and Support module in Windows XP and a flaw in the Windows Metafile Format (WMF). At least 6 of the 14 flaws could let a malicious attacker remotely take control of a Windows computer, according to documentation the company released.
In an odd move, Microsoft admitted that it waited months to patch some of the problems so that the company could release a single, more comprehensive patch, leading some security experts to question whether Microsoft's goal of monthly security patches is a good idea. eEye Digital Security Cofounder Marc Maiffret said that his company discovered some of the flaws as long ago as September 2003. "There are definitely going to be attacks that come from this, just because of the \[critical nature\] of the vulnerability," he said.
However, some security gurus are warming to Microsoft's security strategy, noting that less-dangerous vulnerabilities don't need to be patched right away, especially if those vulnerabilities aren't widely known. Microsoft representatives echoed this sentiment: If attackers had been exploiting the flaws, the company would have responded faster. Other security experts noted that most of the flaws Microsoft patched this month were derivatives of earlier flaws. In other words, after a flaw is found, attackers and security researchers tend to concentrate on that weakness and often find other related flaws.
Most Windows users can protect themselves by using their systems' built-in Automatic Updates and Microsoft Windows Update services. But if you want more information about the patches or would like to manually download them, visit the Microsoft Security Web site.

Intel Profits Surge 89 Percent as PC Demand Soars

Microprocessor giant Intel reported yesterday that--thanks to a soaring demand for new PCs--its first-quarter profits surged 89 percent compared with the same quarter a year earlier. The company made $1.73 billion on sales of $8.09 billion, compared with $915 million in earnings on revenues of $6.75 billion a year earlier. However, in a Microsoft-like move, Intel also cautioned investors about its second quarter and provided a conservative earnings forecast. Intel expects revenues of $7.6 billion to $8.2 billion for the current quarter.
"Intel's first-quarter results showed healthy growth in both revenue and earnings compared to a year ago, led by improvements in worldwide IT spending," Intel CEO Craig R. Barrett said. In particular, Intel executives cited strong corporate sales in Europe.
Intel's settlement of an Intergraph patent-infringement lawsuit dragged down the company's earnings a bit, however. Intel agreed to pay Intergraph $225 million and recorded $162 million in related charges. "If you take inventory out of everything, if you take Intergraph out of everything, we would have been right on our original forecast," Intel Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Andy Bryant said. Intel originally predicted its revenues would fall in the $8 billion to $8.2 billion range.
As with earlier quarters, Intel's microprocessor sales drove the company's financials. The Intel Architecture Group--which develops microprocessors, chipsets, and motherboards--grew first-quarter sales 22 percent to $6 billion. Intel says it now sells more than 1 million of its new Pentium 4 (code-named Prescott) chips each week, and the company expects that design to start outselling the older Pentium 4 version this quarter.

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