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Microsoft’s security response team has announced plans to release eight security bulletins Jan. 9 with patches for a slew of Windows and Office vulnerabilities.

Four of the bulletins will deal directly with the Microsoft Office desktop suite, which includes the Microsoft Word software that has been the target of zero-day malware attacks.

During December 2006, there were at least three confirmed attacks against previously unknown Microsoft Word vulnerabilities, and it’s likely the January batch of patches will includes fixes for those bugs.

As part of its advance notification process, Microsoft said at least three of the four Office updates will be rated “critical,” its highest severity rating.

Users of the Windows operating system will receive three bulletins, some rated “critical.”

The eighth bulletin is expected to deliver patches for security issues in Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Visual Studio. This will carry an “important” rating, the software maker said.

Check out’s Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Ryan Naraine’s eWEEK Security Watch blog.