Microsoft Releases Office 2007 Service Pack 2

NEWS ANALYSIS: For Office 2007 Service Pack 2, Microsoft goes beyond fixes and minor enhancements. Office 2007 SP2 is a major update that includes new file format interoperability features and enhancements affecting many server products. The service pack is now available for downloading.

Enterprises should make no mistake about what Microsoft Office 2007 is and is not. Starting with Office 2003, Microsoft expanded Office's core functionality from the desktop to the server. The company has since integrated many Office features with various Microsoft server products. Service Pack 2, available April 28, is a clear indication of how deep this integration goes.

The integration means changes and tweaks that affect not just Office but Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and many other Microsoft back-end products. "This is a monster service pack release for Office," claimed Gray Knowlton, a Microsoft group product manager for the productivity suite, in an April 27 blog post. Knowlton provides links to 14 other Microsoft blogs that will provide updates about Service Pack 2.

To be clear, SP2 updates relating to server software affect how Office 2007 products interact with back-end features. Microsoft is not rolling out a rash of updates for server software today. Nevertheless, there are enough changes, to Office and supporting server software, for IT organizations to want to carefully test before deploying.

The tweaks are seemingly everywhere. Microsoft is providing plenty of resources for IT organizations to help them understand exactly how wide and deep the changes go. An overview is available in this Knowledge Base article. Microsoft also offers a spreadsheet with highlighted changes. Then there are the aforementioned 15 blogs, including Knowlton's.

But there are other resources and changes, some of which Microsoft is trumpeting as part of its so-called Interoperability Principles. Service Pack 2 introduces limited support for Open Document Format 1.1 and for Microsoft's File Converter API. Both are supposed to improve file format interoperability with other products. ODF support is limited, although Microsoft promises more in Office 2010, which is due to be released early in 2010. Microsoft Senior Program Manager Doug Mahugh and Program Manager Stephen Peront offer separate blog posts explaining ODF support and the External File Converter API.