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Microsoft pushed out a series of five patches for Vista early this week.

The updates - two of which were rated important, two are recommended and one optional - took security observers by surprise because they were released outside Microsoft's normal Patch Tuesday update cycle.

The "important" updates, released on Tuesday, address Daylight Saving Time changes that come into effect in the US this year and flaws in Vista's Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), a windows component that manages file transfer using idle network bandwidth. A brace of updates released on Thursday and last Saturday address various performance and reliability issues in Windows Vista. Finally, Microsoft is distributing an "optional" patch from AMD that deals with vulnerability in the Catalyst installer component.

None of the updates is on the critical list so we are a bit puzzled why they couldn't have waited until Patch Tuesday. Microsoft's monthly patch schedule was created, after all, to give customers a better idea of when Microsoft was likely to publish updates. Quizzed on the point, Microsoft provided us with a statement which does not address the timing issues, but clarifies that the updates involve "incremental fixes" that are narrow in scope., which sounds very much like patches by another name.

Microsoft's statement said: "On Tuesday, Microsoft released new reliability/compatibility hotfixes (KB938194 and KB938979) via Windows Update. The updates are a collection of fixes made to address a small set of reliability and performance issues. These updates provide incremental improvements (or fixes) to the most common issues—but in general, these improvements or fixes are very narrow in scope. For more information, please go to the Windows Update home page."

The next edition of Microsoft's Patch incremental fixes Tuesday falls on 11 September. ®

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