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Service Pack Hardens Office XP

Microsoft Corp. last week took the wraps off of Service Pack (SP) 1 for Office XP, a new update for its flagship office productivity suite.

In addition to incorporating patches for a variety of bugs and reliability issues, SP1 consolidates fixes for at least nine separate product updates. SP1 should also do much to harden Office XP, as well: Since XP’s release in May, Microsoft has patched a series of macro vulnerabilities in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as a number of potential security exploits in Outlook 2002 (click here and here for more information). In mid-August, the software giant also patched at least two vulnerabilities in XP’s Office Web Components module, as well.

SP1 fixes all of Office XP’s most annoying bugs, including a problem with Outlook 2002’s POP implementation that caused an XP client to query a POP server twice in rapid succession. SP1 also patches a problem with PowerPoint 2002’s support for custom bullet-points, as well.

Finally, Microsoft says that SP1 incorporates fixes for many of the unexplained error reports that are generated by Office XP applications and which have been reported to the software giant by means of Office XP’s Error Reporting Tool. A complete itemization of fixes is provided here.

Also new in SP1 is a migration tool for Microsoft’s SharePoint Team Services, a set of Office XP technologies for Web-based collaboration and document management. SharePoint Teams Services are installed along with Office XP’s FrontPage 2002 application. Microsoft expects that SP1’s new SharePoint Team Services Migration Tool should make it easier for IT organizations to migrate SharePoint Team Services from one site to another.

Microsoft has said that SP1 also improves interoperability between Office XP and its Windows XP operating system, which was released in October.

Although Microsoft encouraged users to download and install SP1 immediately, some IT managers, mindful of Microsoft’s past missteps when updating Office, weren’t biting. After all, they point out, the first service pack releases for both Office 97 and Office 2000 were replete with bugs.

“I’m going to wait for a while before I think more seriously about installing it,” says Edward Ko, a network coordinator with the Pennsylvania State University. “Microsoft’s two-for-two [in terms of] botching [first generation] service releases for Office. I’m not really in a hurry to see if they’re going to keep that streak alive.”

A 39 MB administrative download of Office XP SP1 is available here.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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