Microsoft has promised to give advance notice of its monthly security updates to customers to help them prepare to install related software patches.
Starting this month, Microsoft will publish on its website a summary of planned security bulletins three days before they are released in their entirety.
The summary will include information on which products are affected by updates and severity ratings for security problems. The company normally releases security bulletins on the second Tuesday of each month.
"Giving customers advanced warning is really the next stage in making security more predictable," said Gytis Barzdukas, director of product management in Microsoft's Security Business and Technology Unit.
With the security guidance, companies can schedule the needed IT staff for the update release day, and can prioritise their activities according to how critical the updates are, he said.
Microsoft also said it would deliver a beta version of its Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Service Pack 1 (SP1) in the first half of 2005, and has started a partner validation programme for its Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004.
The validation programme aims to assure customers of the interoperability of third-party products used with ISA Server 2004, and is being run in collaboration with VeriTest testing services, Microsoft said.
Barzdukas said the RMS service pack adds improved authentication by smartcards and the ability to be deployed without a network connection to the internet.
Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service