Office 2013 Service Pack 1 overview

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What’s in SP1, how to get it and why you should wait.

Microsoft has finally released a Service Pack for Office 2013, the first major update to Office 2013. It’s a bundle of fixes for known and previously unknown (secret) bugs in Office 2013.

In this article we’ll tell you about the fixes and gotchas in Service Pack 1 as well as how to get it and why you should wait.

What’s Fixed?

Microsoft’s list of main Service Pack 1 (SP1) fixes is short

Among the functionality improvements and changes are the following:

  • Compatibility fixes for Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11.
  • Better support for modern hardware, such as high DPI devices and the precision touchpad.
  • Newapps for Office capabilities and APIs for developers.
  • Power Map for Excel, a 3D visualization tool for mapping, exploring, and interacting with geographical and temporal data in Excel, is now available to Office 365 ProPlus subscription customers. You can learn more about Power Map general availability on the Power BI Blog.
  • Improvements to the Click-to-Run virtualization technology that installs and updates Office 365 desktop applications.
  • SkyDrive Pro is now OneDrive for Business.

Outlook 2013 SP1 Provides support for task pane apps in Outlook 2013 to enable third-party developers to extend the compose experience for email messages and calendar items.

· PowerPoint 2013 SP1 Provides ability to insert and use content apps in PowerPoint 2013 slides. “

So there’s nothing really new for most Office 2013 users. Only ProPlus subscribers get a new feature in the form of Power Map for Excel.

Aside from that we’re assured of “… fixes to improve general stability, functionality, and security in Office, SharePoint Server, and related products.” (Redmond’s standard bland and unhelpful wording). There’s a list of about 250 fixes available from here as an Excel spreadsheet.

Service Pack 1 also includes all the security updates to January 2014 plus cumulative updates to December 2013.

What’s Missing

What’s glaringly missing from Service Pack 1 is anything to do with Skype.  When Microsoft bought Skype, almost two years ago, we were promised integration with other Microsoft products.   We’d foolishly hoped that Service Pack 1 would fix that for Office 2013 – but there’s nil, zip, nada, not a Skype sausage.

Anything else you where hoping for in Service Pack 1?  Let us know.

Secret bugs

Microsoft has continued their deplorable practice of ‘secret bugs’ that they have known about for a long time. Redmond won’t publicly admitted a bug exists until they have a fix, leaving customers to waste time on a bug that Microsoft could document, but won’t.

According to Microsoft’s own KB article, only four SP1 fixes where previously mentioned in their Knowledge Base and all four involved Lync 2013. The other 250ish bugs they’ve kept secret until now.

Bugs in the bug fix

Rightly, Microsoft has already admitted to some bugs in the Service Pack itself.

If you use add-ons to Office, check the Service Pack fix list carefully. Some addons won’t work once SP1 is installed and Office 2013 will disable them automatically. These aren’t obscure add-ons and involve:

  • Evernote (a rival to Microsoft’s OneNote – a coincidence?)
  • FineReader
  • Intel’s ‘Send to Bluetooth’ option on many laptops that use Intel’s Bluetooth hardware.

Once you’ve installed an updated and SP1 compatible add-on from the above, you may have to enable the add-on in Office from File | Options | Add-ins | Com Add-ins | Manage.

SP1 can be uninstalled and that should go smoothly except that in Windows 8 and 8.1 the Office application tile on the Start menu is blank, if it was pinned there. You can fix that by running Repair from Control Panel | Programs and Features | Microsoft Office 2013 after uninstalling SP1.

It’s possible that other add-ins or VBA code will have problems after a Service Pack arrives. Just one more reason to wait a while before applying the update.

How to get Office 2013 Service Pack 1

First, as always, our usual advice applies. Don’t get the Service Pack right away. Let other people be the guinea pigs to discover any more bugs in the Service Pack itself.

Sadly, If you’re an Office 365 subscriber using the ‘Click to Run’ streaming install you don’t get a choice. The Service Pack will be ‘pushed’ out to you apparently whether you like it or not. Also whether the Service Pack will break your current Office setup or not.

If you installed Office 2013 from a download (setup.exe or MSI file) then Microsoft Update will automatically download the Service Pack starting in late March (Microsoft says ‘After a 30 day period’ presumably from 25 Feb 2014). Once downloaded you can choose to install the Service Pack when you like.

If you want to download and install SP1 separately (perhaps to download once before updating multiple computers) go to for the download links.

There are separate updates for 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) Office 2013 as well as Project 2013, Visio 2013, SharePoint Designer 2013, Proofing Tools, Language Interface Pack and Screentip Language.

Before downloading, check which ‘bit’ version of Office 2013 you have. Go to any Office program – File | Account | About … and look at the top line. At the end it will say ’32 bit’ or ’64 bit’

Office%202013%20bitness - Office 2013 Service Pack 1 overview

Do I have Office 2013 Service Pack 1?

Microsoft has always had a strange attitude to keeping customers informed about which exact version of Office they have installed.

We’ve had conversations with Microsoft executives who’ve thought that a version stamp on an obscure DLL file was sufficient to let customers know what was installed!

These days things are little better. In Office 2003 the service pack status was marked on the Help | About screen with the version and build details plus the letters ‘SP1’ or ‘SP2’. It’s a little thing but helpful of anyone trying to do support on a machine.

Sadly from Office 2007 onwards this simple courtesy has been removed.

For Office 2013 Service Pack 1 you’re supposed to know that version 15.0.4569.1506 or higher means Office 2013 Service Pack 1 or later.

Apparently putting ‘SP1′ following the version number is too much trouble even though ’32 bit’ or ’64 bit’ is in the About screen.

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