Microsoft Backs Down over Office 2003 SP3 File Blocking
Responding to complaints from Corel, Microsoft says users will soon be able to unblock and reblock files.Microsoft will provide a new and easy way for customers to unblock the files that were shut off by default when they installed Office 2003 Service Pack 3. The software maker also confirmed to eWEEK Jan. 4 that all the same files are blocked by Office 2007, which was released a year ago, and that the company had erred when it stated that the file formats themselves were less secure, which is not the case. Rather, it is the parsing code that Office 2003 uses to open and save the file types which is less secure, Reed Shaffner, a product manager for Microsoft Office, told eWEEK on Jan. 4.
Microsoft is taking heat for its Office 2003 SP3 file format blocking move. Click here to read more.
As Microsoft had mistakenly said it was the file formats themselves that were less secure, rather than the parsing code, the company has updated the Knowledge Base article with more accurate information that corrected the error, he said.
Click here to read more about Office 2003 SP3.
Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, agreed, saying the blocking move shows more fear than malice on Microsoft's part, especially given that it has been "getting hammered by attacks on Office. Shutting down import/export filters by default is a cheap way to close off further potential avenues of attack," Helm told eWEEK.
Corel, whose .cdr files were the only non-Microsoft file format blocked by SP3, was forced to issue a statement saying that customers could still use the CorelDraw Graphics Suite normally on systems on which Microsoft Office 2003 SP3 had been installed, and that. CDR files could still be opened from within CorelDraw or from Windows Explorer.
Gerard Metrailler, Corel's director of graphics product management, said in a blog post Jan. 3 that the blocking only seemed to appear with embedded CorelDraw documents inside a Microsoft Office 2003 document through OLE (Object Linking and Embedding, a technology developed by Microsoft that allows embedding and linking to documents and other objects).
While Shaffner said he did not know if Microsoft had specifically contacted Corel about the blocking move, he admitted the company did not handle the matter well. "To be perfectly candid, we could have done a better job giving Corel a heads-up, and we talked to its head of product management today," Shaffner said.