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Adobe Reader security updater to be unveiled next week

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Under criticism for applications that are hard to patch, Adobe Systems next week will unveil a mechanism that automatically downloads and installs security updates for its widely used PDF programs.

The software maker announced the updater for its Reader and Acrobat apps in October and used it with beta testers for patches issued in January and February. The system will go live on Tuesday with the release of its quarterly release of security bulletins.

In a blog post published Thursday, Steve Gottwals, a member of Adobe's security team, said the updater will be individually tailored for Windows and Mac OS X operating systems and will allow users to turn off the feature if they want. In addition to disabling automatic updating, Windows users will also be able to automatically download updates and choose to install them later. Mac users don't have this additional option.

The updater will be used to push out critical updates for Reader versions 9.3.1 and 8.2.1, as outlined here. Tuesday's updates will coincide with 11 updates Microsoft will release to patch 25 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office, and Exchange.

We'll be eager to see if Adobe's updater works as billed, but as we've said before, updating the ubiquitous Reader and Flash applications is much more difficult than it should be. And as a result, many users fail to install critical updates that could save them from a world of hurt.

Adobe hasn't announced any plans to automate the patching of Flash. Once the kinks in the Reader updater are straightened out, that should be the next item on the company's to-do list. ®

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