IE is constantly being patched and updated—usually to fix security flaws—but sometimes the fixes themselves can have unfavorable results. Microsoft attempts to stay on top of the problems created by the updates and to inform you of workarounds and fixes.

To that end, Microsoft has set up a regularly updated Knowledge Base article that deals specifically with issues that occur after you install IE updates. Article 325192 lists current known difficulties that users have encountered upon updating IE. It’s a good resource with an extensive list of the possible issues that can arise. If you’ve just installed an IE patch and suddenly find something is amiss, this article is the place to look for information about the cause of the problem and the fix.

Problems with IE patches and more
Article 325192 deals with issues that can occur in IE and a number of other Microsoft programs as a result of installing updates. Affected programs include Outlook, Outlook Express, FrontPage, and Excel. Some of the problems that can arise include being unable to access MSN e-mail and encountering errors in Outlook Express.

Problems with February 2003 cumulative patch for IE
Recent updates to the page deal with problems relating to the February 2003 cumulative patch for IE, which addressed some IE vulnerabilities and fixed several bugs. The cumulative patch can cause several problems to occur. For example, it can cause a recurrence of authentication problems via the IAuthenticate interface and can prevent users from accessing MSN e-mail. These issues were previously addressed in a hot fix.

Problems with HTML Help calls may also arise after installing the patch. The URL specfied in the window.showHelp method isn’t displayed in the Help window. This issue occurs because the February 2003 cumulative patch addresses a vulnerability that allowed an attacker to access Web site data by using window.showHelp to open a URL.

The patch also disables frames in the Restricted Sites zone, which affects e-mail programs because it turns off frames in Outlook and Outlook Express and prevents HTML e-mail messages from automatically opening new windows or from downloading program files. This new behavior may be an annoyance for some users, but Microsoft states that this is by design to improve the security of IE and its e-mail programs.

After installing the patch, users may also find they are unable to open some file types in IE, including Rich Text Format (RTF), comma-separated value (CSV), WinZip, or Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) files. Other issues that may occur include multilanguage dialog boxes reverting to English, SSL errors, and script errors on certain pages.

Add this one to your IE favorites
The information provided in article 325192 can be very useful for diagnosing and fixing problems that occur after updating IE. Because the list of issues is lengthy, Microsoft offers an essential resource in the continuously updated page. As many items on the list reveal, not all of the issues that arise are actually bugs introduced by the fixes. In many cases, security updates disable IE and e-mail program behaviors to eliminate vulnerabilities. Users may think something is wrong when, in fact, Microsoft has altered a program by design to plug particular security holes. The interrelatedness of Microsoft components makes this article an essential source of information on the effects of IE updates.