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Wednesday, 14 May 2008 03:35

Service Pack 1 arrives for Office 2008

We knew Microsoft was about to release a security update for Office 2008, but a full-blown service pack came as a surprise.

Weighing in at a hefty 180M, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 1 (12.1.0) is a wide-ranging update for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage. Changes are aimed at improving security, stability and performance.

The security content relates to a pair of vulnerabilities in Word that can be exploited with maliciously crafted RTF or Word documents. Successful exploits could take complete control of the system, but Microsoft officials said the company is unaware of any attacks or proofs of concept.

Updates addressing these security issues in Office 2004 and various Windows versions of the suite have also been released.

I don't plan to regurgitate Microsoft's list of all the changes delivered by SP1. It's too long, and the fixes are generally very specific and therefore of interest only if you've encountered the corresponding problem.

But let's see if there are any highlights.

I've heard several complaint about picture handling. SP1 is supposed to do a better job with WMF pictures, as well as fixing a bug that caused spurious QuickTime-related messages when opening files created in other versions of Office.

What else is new in Word?


Word users are treated to a new set of business card templates, and improved support for mouse wheel and trackpad gesture scrolling.

And here's one that should cause some cheers: "In response to customer feedback, this update changes the After paragraph spacing setting for new documents from '10 pt' to '0 pt.'"

Excel users may appreciate the return of various chart formatting options, improved file compatibility with Excel for Windows, various performance improvements, and improved support for multiple displays.

PowerPoint gains compatibility with PowerPoint Mobile, improved AppleScript support, and better performance when displaying complex objects, animations and transitions.

Changes to Entourage include fixes for issues in vCard export, synchronisation, the display of free/busy information from Exchange Server 2003, the handling of POP errors, better display of hyperlinks in emails, Gmail accounts default to IMAP rather than POP, pictures copied from Safari or from other applications now paste correctly into emails, and Entourage can now be registered as the default application to open vCard, iCalendar and .eml (email) files.

Advanced Search has been improved to fix issues that lead to no results being erroneously returned. It requires Entourage's Spotlight index to be rebuilt (Entourage>Preferences>General Preferences>Spotlight>Rebuild).

But that's not all - there's news about VBA.


There's also an updated junk email definition file for Entourage.

In related news, Microsoft has announced that it will restore VBA to the next version of Office for Mac. Unfortunately, it seems that doesn't mean Office 2008 SP2, but Office 2011 or 20012, or whatever it turns out to be.

The absence of VBA from Office 2008 was one of the biggest criticisms of the suite, especially among enterprise users that relied on compatibility with Office for Windows.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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