Office 2010 Service Pack 2

Past patches and fixes to ‘secret’ bugs in an update to Office 2010 and related programs.

Microsoft has released another service pack for Office 2010 and associated programs like SharePoint 2010 with the usual trick of patching software bugs that Microsoft had kept secret from customers.

It’s an old trick that Microsoft has done for well over a decade but no-one except Office Watch seems to notice, let alone care. Check out Bug? What Bug?

This policy continues with Office 2010 Service Pack 2. There’s a list of fixed bugs, but not on a web page, instead an Excel worksheet. The list doesn’t tell you a lot beyond a short description with no Knowledge Base references. Microsoft call these secret bug fixes ‘previously unreleased fixes’.

The list of fixed bugs is hardly complete. For example, there’s a patch for the Office 2010 iFilter Pack and Access 2010 Runtime that includes both past patches and ‘previously unreleased fixes’, yet Microsoft fix list has no mention of iFilter patches at all.

SP2 includes all security patches released until April 2013.

Bug? What Bug?

Just one example, among, many of a secret bug in Office 2010.

In the list of SP2 fixes we found this

“Word crashes when deleting AUTONUMLGL field in Track Changes mode.”

Word crashing under any circumstances is a serious matter but not apparently serious enough for Microsoft to be honest with their customers.

We searched Microsoft’s Support site for more information about this bug – there’s nothing at all. Even after fixing the bug, Microsoft doesn’t admit to the bug on their own public Knowledge Base.

At the time of writing a search for “AUTONUMLGL Track Changes” yields only 3 results – one each for Word 97, Word 2000 and Word 2007.

How to get Office 2010 Service Pack 2

For individuals, the Service Pack will be pushed to you automatically via Windows Update.  If you want to delay applying the patches, change your Windows/ Microsoft Update setting to not automatically install updates.

IT managers can deploy the Service Pack in the usual ways, depending on their setup.

More than one update

SP2 is actually a series of separate updates, they are all listed here. There’s a few to keep in mind:

Naturally there’s the main Office 2010 SP2 patch, in both 32 and 64 bit flavors.

There’s also separate patches for:

Plus patches for the PowerPoint and Visio Viewers. Project 2010 and Visio 2010 have separate patches.

Sharepoint 2010 and related products all have updates.

Access 2010 Runtime

The Runtime library can be distributed by Access developers to work with their applications. Changes in the runtime library can break a previously working application so it’s important that users and developers know what has been changed before using a new version of the library.

Despite that importance there is no documentation of changes in the Access 2010 Runtime SP2. The KB article is just the standard text for a service pack.

So little care has been taken that the KB article for Access 2010 Runtime SP2 has a link to the SP2 fix list (the Excel worksheet mentioned above) even though the list has no mention of Access 2010 Runtime at all!

Update or not?

Always a tough call, Microsoft is willingly forgetful when it comes to the mixed history of Office Service Packs. Updating Office is a complicated thing to do and it’s inevitable that the Service Pack will add some new software bugs while fixing others.

That’s why long time Office users tend to hold back on installing a Service Pack for a little while. Let other people be the guinea pigs.

You might also want to wait until there’s a break in your work needs, just in case the SP causes trouble. Murphy’s Law says that a software update is more likely to make trouble as a deadline is looming.

Given the typical lack of proper documentation from Microsoft and their past history, why not wait a month or two before applying Office 2010 SP2? After all, you’ve waited this long and have most of the fixes already.

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