Microsoft announces Office 2007 Service Pack 2 … again

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Microsoft has released more details about the next Service Pack for Office 2007 users. This isn’t the first time SP2 has been ‘announced’ and it won’t be the last.

Microsoft has released more details about the next Service Pack for Office 2007 users. This isn’t the first time SP2 has been ‘announced’ and it won’t be the last.

Customers are given a rough timeline for the release of the update: between Feb – April 2009. In other words at least 3 months and maybe 7 months from now, possibly even longer if there are problems. Since earlier Office Service Packs have suffered from ‘issues’ we’re always happier with a longer development and testing time.

Some inclusions in Service Pack 2 were already telegraphed: the current PDF/XPS ‘Save As’ free add-in will be integrated into Office properly (as it should have been in the first place). The Open Document Format (ODF) will be supported in Office 2007, though the exact nature of that support remains to be seen.

According to Microsoft here’s some of the things now slated for SP2:

For Office Desktop Programs:

· Improved Outlook Calendaring Reliability

· Improved Outlook Performance

· Enabling Object Model support for Charts in PowerPoint and Word

· Improved cryptographic functionality by supporting all cryptographic algorithms offered by the operating system

· Improved functionality in Excel’s charting mechanism

· Ability to ungroup SmartArt graphics (and as a result, the ability to add animations to them in PowerPoint)

· Ability for Visio to export UML models to an XML file compliant with the XMI standard

· Tool that enables the uninstall of Office client Service Packs

For Servers:

· Performance and manageability improvements to variations in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) including STSADM commands for repairing links between source and target pages

· Improvements around processing status approvals from Office Project Web Access into Office Project Professional 2007

· Improvements to read-only content databases and index rebuild timer jobs in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

As usual these short notes begs questions .. what are the current reliability problems with Outlook Calendaring that will be fixed in SP2? Customers are entitled to know what the problems are now and whether they might see a fix in 2009 or not at all.

It’s a favorite Microsoft trick to keep a series of Office bugs secret until the fix is released in a Service Pack. Only then does a Knowledge Base article miraculously appear or the bug is limited to a single unhelpful line in the long list of SP fixes. Until then customers are left to waste time and energy on a problem then installing the Service Pack in the hope that their particular ‘issue’ is repaired.

Any extension of the programming object model is always welcome, however belated that might arrive.

An uninstall tool for a Service Pack … hallelujah! A better idea would be a reliable and well-documented Service Pack that doesn’t drive people to consider uninstalling it.

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