Is Office 2003 Service Pack 2 dead?


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Is Office 2003 SP2 ‘dead’ – should you update to Service Pack 3 despite the problems in the latest update?

” I’ve heard that Office 2003 SP2 is no longer supported, is that true? That’s a problem for my company because Service Pack 3 breaks access to many file types we need so we can’t move beyond SP2. But if we don’t move to SP3 then we lose support. Help!”. – Joel W, Alabama.

It’s true that future security updates (after the October 2008 security patches) will only be available for Office 2003 Service Pack 3.

Microsoft’s ‘lifecycle’ policy means that security updates are supplied for an Office service pack while it is current and for a year after it’s superseded by a later SP.

Usually that’s not a big deal, the policy allows enough time for people to see how the service pack works in reality (ie let others test it) and install it on their computers.

The problem with Office 2003 Service Pack 3 is that does a lot more than just fix bugs – there are Traps in Office 2003 SP3. SP3 severely limits the document types you can open compared with earlier versions of Office 2003 and does so with no clear advance warning nor helpful explanation when you try. We’ve received hundreds of complaints from Office Watch readers since SP3 was released.

Thankfully you can undo the damage of Service Pack 3 – there are registry entries you can update to re-enable the File Open features blocked by default.

SP3 also has some strange anomalies in the English dictionary – they are more curiousities than problems.

At this stage you probably have to move to Office 2003 Service Pack 3 and, if necessary, deploy the registry fixes for any required file types (you can mumble curses to Microsoft as you do so).

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