updated 7/12/2006 10:39:31 AM ET 2006-07-12T14:39:31

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday released four security fixes to patch flaws in its Windows operating system.

Two of the vulnerabilities carried the highest danger rating.

All of the patches are to fix weaknesses in Windows that could allow an attacker to take control of a person's computer.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

In its monthly security bulletin, Microsoft also said that three patches for its Office business software suite are to fix vulnerabilities that carry the highest "critical" rating for people running products associated with the Office 2000 release.

The Redmond company said the vulnerabilities are less serious for those running newer versions of Office.

Separately, Microsoft said it would stop offering security fixes for three older versions of its dominant operating system: Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows Millennium Edition.  Microsoft is hoping the lack of support will be one factor in prompting people to upgrade to newer Windows versions.

The most recent version of Windows, XP, has been out since late 2001.  A new version of Windows, called Vista, is scheduled for consumer release in January of 2007.

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