Microsoft Update Kneecaps Video Editing Software
Adobe Premiere Elements is a user-friendly video editing program.
Video editors, beware: If you downloaded Microsoft's most recent Patch Tuesday updates, you may find yourself unable to use certain types of video files in a number of video-editing programs, including the Adobe suite.
A user named Marisela first discovered the issue in Adobe Premiere on July 11, two days after Microsoft issued its monthly security patches. She noticed that whenever she tried to import WMVs — a ubiquitous type of video file used almost exclusively by Microsoft programs — larger than 1 GB, a large, black bar appeared across the top half of her video.
The black bar is not a simple graphical glitch: It's a real part of the video that carries through to exported files. If you need to work with a WMV on any Adobe video program — be it Premiere Pro, Premiere Elements or After Effects — you had better hope that all the relevant action takes place on the bottom half of the screen.
Adobe looked into the issue and discovered that the malfunction was linked to the "Windows 7 kb2803821" and "Windows XP kb2834904" updates. Users can expect the malfunction unless they stick to very small files or convert the video beforehand.
The official Adobe site recommends uninstalling the security update in order to restore normal video functionality. Since the issue stems from Microsoft, Adobe is unlikely to devote time and resources to fixing the problem.
Although uninstalling the update will fix the video problem, it has the unfortunate side effect of leaving Windows users vulnerable to a WMV-based security risk. The two updates fixed a flaw that allowed hackers to craft malicious WMVs that, when opened, could launch remote attacks to hijack users' computers. [See also: The 10 Biggest Online Security Myths And How to Avoid Them]
Adobe users face a stark choice: to leave their computers vulnerable to a potentially devastating security risk, or avoid editing WMV files altogether. Neither Microsoft nor Adobe really has much to gain by investing time and money into fixing the incompatibility, so it may be up to clever users to devise a workaround.
Although Adobe users have been the most vocal about the issue, they are hardly the only ones facing it. Camtasia Studios from Techsmith suffers the same issue, according to tech site InfoWorld, and also recommends that users uninstall the update. MoviePlus from Serif also suffers from a horizontal black bar.
The black bars may not be exclusive to editing software. At least one user has reported black bars showing up when attempting to save YouTube videos after downloading the update. Another has encountered black bars while playing real-time strategy game "Rome: Total War." Trying to defend the Roman Empire against barbarian hordes is considerably more difficult when you can't see the barbarians.
There's no evidence that hackers have ever actually exploited the WMV vulnerability, so uninstalling the update is relatively safe, for the time being. If throngs of users decide to do so, though, they'll suddenly become very tempting targets for hijackers — especially since few people are easier to lure with video files than video editors.