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Micro$oft bit the bullet Monday and announced plans to develop a patch for its popular Outlook e-mail client which will save users from themselves by blocking those file types most likely to contain malicious code.

Many have criticised the company for making products vulnerable to worm viruses like Melissa and the recent Love Bug, and for shifting the blame for such outbreaks on users stupid enough to open dodgy attachments (or stupid enough to trust M$ security engineering, depending on how you see it).

The company plans to make the patch available on its Office Update pages starting 22 May. The strategy will be to prevent users from opening files containing such suffixes as .exe, .bat, .vbs and others that indicate an executable file.

It will not affect non-executable files such as those with the extensions .mpg, .jpg, .doc, .txt and .htm (though html pages, while not themselves executable per se, can contain malicious code).

Outlook will also be altered so that if a user's address book is accessed, a simple pop-up will warn them, a painfully obvious enhancement suggested by US Congressman Anthony Weiner (Democrat, New York) during a House Science Subcommittee hearing on the Love Bug last week. ®

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