Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday released the second service pack for Office XP, combining previously released and new updates into a single, integrated package.
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.
: Microsoft to Roll Out Office XP SP-2″>
With regard to performance, SP2 includes an Excel 2002 update that corrects images from being flipped when an Excel 97 workbook is opened in Excel 2002; and an update for PowerPoint 2002 that corrects an issue in which the appearance of printed slides appear fuzzy when printed as handouts with three or more slides per page.
The Microsoft spokeswoman said members of the Microsoft Select, MSDN and TechNet programs would receive SP-2 as part of their regularly scheduled mailings.
The software firm recommends that all Office XP users download SP-2 to benefit from these improvements, she said, cautioning that all future updates to Office XP will require this service pack to be installed.
The Redmond, Wash., company has also scheduled a Webcast for next month around deploying the service pack.
The Webcast, which is designed for experts and will be highly technical, will help users with deploying SP-2 in an enterprise-computing environment, including how to use Ohotfix.exe to chain client-side patch deployment and administrative patching.
“Because SP-2 is a new baseline for Office XP, you will also hear how this will affect the rollout of Office XP in an environment where previous versions of Office XP have been deployed.
“You will also learn how to provide additional failover resiliency for client-side patches and how to use some of the new tools that are available on the Office Resource Kit site to manage patches in your environment,” says the Webcast information on the Microsoft site.
Microsoft is also working on the next version of Office, code-named Office 11. As first reported by eWEEK, this version will feature far greater use of XML and Web services for reporting, analyzing, importing and exporting information—particularly in Outlook and Excel. The first beta is expected later this year.
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