Microsoft Rolls Out Office XP SP-2

Update: New security updates enhance protection of Office Web components from hackers, says Microsoft spokeswoman.

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Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday released the second service pack for Office XP, combining previously released and new updates into a single, integrated package.

SP-2 is now available for download or can be ordered on CD. A full-file administrative version is also available so organizations can easily deploy SP-2 to all their Office XP users.

Microsoft has also posted an "Overview of the Office XP Service Pack 2" on the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

The standard service pack is a collection of all the bug fixes that Microsoft has released and has been working on since it issued the first service pack last December.

Among the bugs that have plagued Office XP this year are two flaws in portions of the Office XP application suite. The two bugs are closely related and, if used in concert, could enable an attacker to gain complete control of a vulnerable machine.

A Microsoft spokeswoman told eWEEK that SP-2 is focused on delivering enhanced security, performance and stability to Office XP applications. It includes new security updates that enhance the protection of Office Web components from malicious hackers as well as an Excel 2002 update to prevent the loss of digital signatures when auto-saving an Excel spreadsheet, she said.

The service pack also includes security updates already released, including those that prevent Word from running ActiveX controls without warning when the user is using Word to edit e-mail messages and has configured Outlook to disable script.

It also provides additional protection against exploits in Excel, which could potentially run macros without warning, the spokeswoman said.

On the stability front, SP-2 includes an update for Microsoft Word 2002 that corrects an issue in which the application may unexpectedly close when trying to paste a graphic or shape using a VBA macro; a PowerPoint 2002 update which corrects the application from unexpectedly closing when clicking on a link to view a different slide in the slide sorter view; and an update for Outlook 2002 that stops the application from unexpectedly closing when a mail recipient from an email message is added to the users Contacts list.