Service packs can be a tricky thing. Sometimes they serve as a signal that a product is now stable and ready for deployment. Other times they cause more problems than they fix and can set back product deployments.
Microsoft Corp.s Office XP Service Pack 1, released earlier this month, probably isnt in the second category because there really isnt much new in it. Almost all of the service packs patches, fixes and updates have been available for download from Microsoft for at least a few months, and any problems from the patches have already been detected.
However, its also unclear whether this service pack will jump-start enterprise Office XP deployments, since it wont change the mind of any business that wasnt sold on Office XP in the first place.
Two of the main security fixes address macro-based holes in Word, Excel and PowerPoint that made it possible for viruses or attackers to run code and macros automatically. Both of these patches were originally posted earlier this year.
Service Pack 1 also includes all available updates to most of the components in Office XP. Microsoft claims that it will also improve performance and stability, but, aside from the fact that removal of bugs should improve performance and stability, we saw no noticeable differences after installing the service pack.
The service pack can be installed through the automatic update site at office.microsoft.com/productupdates, or the full 18MB file can be downloaded from office.microsoft.com/downloads/2002/oxpsp1.aspx. Sites that installed Office XP on CD-ROM will need to have the Office XP CD in the drive to install the service pack.
Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.