Microsoft slates Office 2007 SP1 release for Dec. 11

A download will be available Tuesday; no Automatic Update yet, says Microsoft

Microsoft will release the first service pack for Office 2007 next week, the company confirmed Wednesday.

"Service Pack 1 for the 2007 Microsoft Office system will be available for download on [Dec. 11]," a spokeswoman said Wednesday in an e-mail, adding that the update focuses on stability, performance and security improvements.

Previously, the company had pegged the SP1 ship date to the first quarter of 2008, which makes next week's release one of the few Microsoft updates to beat a shipping schedule set earlier.

Microsoft has been mostly mum about SP1's contents, and Wednesday would say only that it would offer more information on Dec. 11 when it posts the pack on its Web site. But according to a Microsoft employee who posted on a company blog Wednesday, users will initially need to retrieve the update manually; SP1 will not be pushed out via Windows' Automatic Update mechanism.

"The use of Automatic Update (AU) deployment has been a concern we have heard from many customers in recent months," said John Rajunas, an account specialist based in New York. "Because of this, the 2007 Office System SP1 will not be released to AU immediately. Instead, the Microsoft Office System team will provide guidance as to a date at which we will begin throttling up so that you have time to educate yourself on what is in SP1 and determine the best method for you to deploy it in your environment."

It's unclear whether Microsoft will provide a tool for corporate customers who want to block the automatic download of Office 2007 SP1 temporarily after the service pack is added to the AU list. It has offered similar tools in the past for updates that included the migration to Internet Explorer 7 and Windows XP SP2.

Office 2007 SP1's roll-out next week will coincide with the first all-public availability of Vista SP1 Release Candidate 1 (RC1); the two product lines launched simultaneously last November to volume buyers and in January to consumers and smaller businesses.

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