Microsoft Releases Office 2003 Service Pack 3

 
 
By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-09-18 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The pack makes it easier for users to work with Windows Vista and exchange files with the 2007 Microsoft Office system.

Microsoft is making the third service pack for Office 2003 available for free download Sept. 18, which the company says strengthens the products defenses against malicious software. "While SP3 will be available as a free download on Sept. 18, customers will also begin to get notified of its availability via Microsofts AutoUpdate over the next few weeks," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK.
The service pack can be downloaded here.
"Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 3 is the culmination of several years of improvements to the product suite … It makes it easier to work with the Windows Vista operating system, exchange files with people who use the 2007 Microsoft Office system, and interact with servers in the 2007 release. SP3 also minimizes the issues that previously caused distractions," a white paper released along with the service pack says. SP3 also enhances security by including recent, individually released patches. It includes new features and tools—such as MOICE (Microsoft Office Isolated Conversion Environment) and File Block—which were developed as part of the 2007 Microsoft Office system. These two security tools, released separately earlier this year, reduce the threat of malware concealed within Microsoft Office documents, the paper says.
MOICE allows users to open Microsoft Office documents from unknown senders with relative safety. It uses the converters in the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 file formats to convert binary format files into the newer Office Open XML format, it says. Whats so hard to understand about MOICE? Click here to read more. "The conversion process removes malicious content within corrupted or tampered documents and has successfully remedied all issues to date. MOICE conducts these cleansings in a restricted process, thereby protecting the underlying system in the event that any code tries to execute during the conversion process," the paper says. File Block complements MOICE by allowing IT administrators to temporarily prevent certain file formats from opening through registry or group policy. This provides companies with the flexibility needed to quickly respond to evolving threats without unduly limiting productivity, the paper says. For businesses, the service pack is a crucial update that addresses security issues around legacy file formats and add-ins using the Microsoft COM (component object model) and privacy concerns regarding hidden metadata. But while Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., has rigorously tested Office 2003 SP3 with major business software packages, including third-party products from Hyperion and SAP, and identified no major compatibility issues, there are some changes to the 2003 Office release that might adversely affect systems and workflows, it acknowledged. Read more here about how the BI landscape is changing. "The most noticeable of these changes is that the functionality of COM add-ins and ActiveX controls may be reduced or blocked if the component uses insecure interface methods. Office 2003 SP3 automatically tests all COM components and limits potentially insecure functions," the paper says. Legacy file formats created using Microsoft Office programs are also disabled by default as this increases security since hackers can more easily find vulnerabilities in the older formats. IT administrators can change the settings to allow specific document formats, if needed, according to the paper. Office 2003 SP3 also disables the Fast Save feature in Word 2003, which speeds up the document-saving process by saving only the changes made to a document. "But the saved document may contain metadata, such as comments, erased text, previous versions and authorship. Disabling Fast Save ensures that confidential data is protected against improper disclosure," the white paper says. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
 
 
 
 
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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