Microsoft said it will publish seven patches, four "critical," for a broad selection of its products next Patch Tuesday.

Vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Word and SharePoint will be patched. The three non-critical fixes will be labelled "important," the second-highest rating. Microsoft shared some details in a pre-patch notification filed on the company's website yesterday.

Windows will account for three of the seven updates, and one of the four critical fixes. The solitary critical bulletin affects Windows 2000, Windows XP Home SP2 and Windows Server 2003, Microsoft said.

The three remaining critical updates will address one or more vulnerabilities in Outlook Express and Windows Mail, as Outlook Express is known in Vista; Internet Explorer; and Microsoft Word. Every version of IE will need a patch, according to the notice, including IE 7 on Vista, the edition Microsoft has repeatedly touted as its most secure browser ever.

All versions of Outlook Express harbour a critical bug, as does Word 2000, but the flaws in other flavours of Microsoft's entry-level mail client and word processor were designated as important.

Windows will also get two out of the three important updates on Tuesday, with SharePoint Services 3.0 receiving the third. The SharePoint fix was originally scheduled to have been released last month, but at the last minute Microsoft yanked that one without an explanation.

Assuming Microsoft releases all seven bulletins, users will have dealt with 61 updates so far this year, four fewer than same period in 2006.