Microsoft Releases Office 2013 Service Pack 1

A new round of bug fixes and enhancements for Office, SharePoint and Exchange Server brings Windows 8.1 support, self-service BI and tighter email security to the company's line of business software.

Microsoft has issued the first major service pack (SP1) for Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 and Exchange Server 2013, smoothing over some of the bumps between the business productivity portfolio, the company's latest OS builds and the devices that run them.

In a Feb. 25 blog post, Microsoft marketing manager Chris Schneider claimed that SP1 "delivers greater stability, expanded functionality, security enhancements and improved compatibility with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2." Office 365 subscribers always have the "most up-to-date version of Office products" at their disposal, he added, referencing the cloud-enabled software's accelerated update cadence.

Microsoft's Office Sustained Engineering Team revealed in a related blog post that SP1 not only squashes bugs, but also includes several enhancements that will help Office run more smoothly on the company's new OS, browser and cloud offerings. They include compatibility improvements for Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11; support for pixel-packed, high DPI displays; and a transition from SkyDrive Pro to OneDrive for Business.

The company recently rebranded SkyDrive following a court defeat in the U.K. last summer. BSkyB, a British broadcaster, successfully argued a trademark infringement case against the software giant, forcing Microsoft to adopt a new name for its cloud storage service.

SP1 includes Power Map for Excel (formerly GeoFlow), a 3D visualization tool that is part of Microsoft's PowerBI for Office 365 suite. The company's answer to the big data skills gap, PowerBI leverages the Windows Azure cloud platform and provides user-friendly controls, filters and natural-language search, enabling Office 365 users to explore data on interactive maps in Excel.

The service pack also includes tweaks to the Click-to-Run Office 365 desktop apps streaming virtualization technology. Microsoft continues to court developers with new Apps for Office APIs.

Some organizations had an early start with Exchange Server 2013 SP1, announced the company. "SP1 has already been deployed to thousands of production mailboxes in customer environments via the Exchange Server Technology Adoption Program (TAP)," said Microsoft in a statement.

Exchange Server 2013 SP1 marks the "return of S/MIME encryption for Outlook Web App users" and includes new data loss prevention (DLP) features that help businesses maintain a stronger grasp on sensitive information. One such feature is DLP Document Fingerprinting, which provides content detection capabilities that help administrators tailor their security and compliance policies. "For example, you can create a document fingerprint based on your organization's patent request form to identify when users are sending that form, and then use DLP actions to properly control dissemination of the content," explained Microsoft.

Exchange 2013 also gains Exchange Admin Center cmdlet logging (similar to PowerShell cmdlet logging in Exchange 2010 Management Console), MAPI over HTTP (MAPI/HTTP) support, SSL offloading and Windows Server 2012 R2 compatibility.

Downloads are available for Office 2013 desktop, SharePoint 2013 server and Exchange Server. After 30 days, the company will push out SP1 as an automatic update through the Microsoft Update service.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...