Microsoft Corp. has acknowledged a critical vulnerability in nearly all versions of its flagship Windows operating system software, the first such design flaw to affect its latest Windows Server 2003 software.

The weakness was discovered by a team of researchers who said they were keeping details under wraps. As a result, no Windows users were reported to have been immediately affected by the flaw. Microsoft urged customers to immediately install a free software repairing patch available from its web site.

Microsoft said the vulnerability could allow hackers to seize

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