Microsoft will give customers advance notice of its monthly security updates in an effort to help them prepare to install related software patches, the company announced today.

Starting this month, Microsoft will publish on its website a summary of planned security bulletins three days before they are released in their entirety. The summary will include information on which products are affected by updates, and severity ratings for security problems.

The company normally releases security bulletins on the second Tuesday of each month. It previously offered customers who signed up through support personnel advance notifications, but the information was not published for all customers.

"Giving customers advance warning is really the next stage in making security more predictable," said Gytis Barzdukas, director of product management in Microsoft's Security Business and Technology Unit.

With the security guidance, companies can schedule the needed IT staff for the update release day, and can prioritise their activities according to how critical the updates are, he said.