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Monday, 22 May, 2000, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Outlook fix foxes users
Outlook update can cause problems for Psion users
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

Microsoft's cure for some of the security problems in its e-mail program Outlook may cause as many problems as it tries to solve.

In early May, the Love Bug computer virus spread so quickly and did so much damage because it exploited the way that Microsoft's popular e-mail program treats files attached to e-mail messages.

On 22 May, Microsoft is due to release a program - called a patch - that will make Outlook more suspicious of the files that travel alongside such messages.

But the update could cause problems for more users than the virus ever managed.

The patch will stop Outlook running 37 different types of file, all of which can be subverted by computer viruses.

But people downloading the early version of the software patch are reporting that the improved security brings with it a lot of irritation.

Many popular files that are commonly attached to e-mail messages, such as presentations prepared with Powerpoint, are being crippled by the update.

Handheld hassle

The patch stops unauthorised programs using the address book but this has caused problems for users of Palm, Psion and Windows CE handheld computers that synchronise their lists of contacts with the one in Outlook.

Those using Outlook 97 who want to use the patch to make themselves more secure will have to upgrade to Outlook 98.

Also, anyone using Outlook 2000 has to have a particular version of this program installed. If they do not, they have to update their software by downloading and installing another program from the Microsoft website.

This update, called Office 2000 Service Release 1, is up to 40 megabytes in size. Microsoft estimates that it will take around 3 hours to download using a modem that works at 28.8kbps.

The early version of the patch has also proved troublesome to remove if the installation fails. If this happens, Microsoft recommends reinstalling the entire suite of Office programs.

Microsoft has published a list of the problems that the patch program causes.

Chris LeTocq, an analyst at computer consultancy Gartner Group said businesses would find the installation "burdensome."

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See also:

16 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Microsoft locks out viruses
12 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Four suspects in Love Bug probe
06 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Why write computer viruses?
20 May 00 | Sci/Tech
New computer bug fails to bite
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