Microsoft ships delayed patches for Office for Mac 2008

Fixes four bugs a month after it disclosed them and patched Office 2011

Microsoft on Wednesday issued an Office for Mac 2008 security update that patched four vulnerabilities the company had disclosed but not addressed last month.

Office for Mac 2004, which harbors the same four flaws, remains unpatched, however.

On Nov. 9, Microsoft released an update for Office for Mac 2011 -- which shipped just two weeks earlier -- that patched four bugs, all rated "important," the second-highest threat ranking in the company's four-step scoring system. At the time, Microsoft labeled each of the four with the phrase "remote code execution," indicating that they could be used by attackers to infect a Mac with malware.

But it did not update Office for Mac 2008 or 2004 at the same time.

In reply to questions last month, Microsoft's Jerry Bryant said that the updates for Mac Office 2004 and 2008 weren't ready, but the company chose to issue fixes that were finished, particularly those for the more popular Office suites for Windows.

"Normally, we release updates for all affected products at the same time, [but] in cases where the vast majority of our customers are at potential risk and we can provide protections, we may decide to release updates for those products, if ready, ahead of products where the risk is very low," Bryant said at the time.

Wednesday's 333MB update to Office for Mac 2008 also includes some stability improvements to Entourage, the e-mail client included with that version of the suite, Microsoft said in an accompanying note on its support site.

Microsoft did not set a release date for Office for Mac 2004 fixes.

The company has delayed patches for the Mac version of its application suite before. In May 2009, Microsoft was criticized for shipping patches for the Windows version of PowerPoint when it delayed fixes for the same flaws in the Mac software until the following month.

Users of Office for Mac 2008 can download the 12.2.8 update from Microsoft's site, or use the suite's auto-update tool to retrieve and install the patches.

The latter lists the release date of the update as next Tuesday, Dec. 14 -- the month's usual Patch Tuesday for Microsoft security fixes -- hinting that Microsoft pushed the patches out several days earlier than planned.

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