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A month without a Windows fix?

Unless there's a change between now and Tuesday, Microsoft will have no new security patches for IT managers to deploy until at least next month.

IT administrators can rest easy this month.

After Microsoft handed out a whopping 13 security bulletins in February -- nine of them for critical flaws -- the software giant announced on its TechNet site Thursday that no new patches are planned for this month.

When was the last time Microsoft skipped a Patch Tuesday?

"This is the first time since they went to the monthly cycle, at least as far as I can remember," said Bill Arrington, who works on the network operations and security team for Children's Hospital in Boston. "It's good news." This actually happened once before, in December 2003, but it's proximity to the start of the monthly patch cycle could blend memories.

Still, it's rare and Microsoft did note, as always, that plans could change. It could always develop an unexpected patch between now and Tuesday, or one could come outside the company's normal patching cycle. Redmond almost always saves its security updates for the second Tuesday of each month.

Last month's mammoth pile of patches addressed security holes in such widely used programs as Internet Explorer, Media Player, MSN Messenger and Microsoft Office. If exploited, attackers could use many of the flaws to take over computers, view sensitive data and launch malicious code.

More related patch news

Microsoft issues critical fixes for February

Exploit code targets to Microsoft flaws

Whatever happens, Arrington said the process has been much better since Microsoft started the monthly patching cycle in October 2003.

Asked if he was relieved that no new patches were planned for Tuesday, he said: "I've actually been relieved since Microsoft moved to the monthly cycle. Before that it was a lot harder to figure out when an update was very important or less important. It's a more orderly process now."

And, he added, "if a patch is released outside the monthly cycle, you know it's a big deal."

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