Microsoft delivers Office 2007 SP1

Pack focuses on collecting existing fixes rather than introducing a raft of new features

Microsoft released the first major update to Office 2007 this week, with company managers calling it a "typical service pack" that focuses on collecting existing fixes rather than introducing a raft of new features.

Office 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which can be downloaded manually from Microsoft's Web site starting Tuesday, will not be pushed to users via Automatic Update for at least three months, however. According to Reed Shaffner, worldwide product manager for Office, Microsoft won't use Windows' update service to deliver the pack for at least three months, and may wait as long as six months to do so.

"We'll give users a 30-day notice before throttling up [SP1 via] Automatic Update," promised Shaffner. The notice will be posted on Microsoft's Web site and publicized elsewhere.

Depending on how users or companies have set Automatic Update, Office 2007 SP1 may be automatically downloaded and installed once the pack is added to the update list.

Microsoft does not currently plan to release a service pack blocking tool for Office 2007 SP1, as it did last week for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3. Although the company has handed out similar blockers for other major upgrades -- including Windows XP SP2 in 2004 and Internet Explorer 7 in 2006 -- it's never felt the need to do so or had customers clamor for one, Shaffner said.

"This is a typical service pack, with emphasis on performance and stability," said Tom Rizzo, director of SharePoint. "It addresses the top issues, across the board, for both client and server" that have been reported to the company's support desk.

Shaffner and Rizzo detailed only a few new features in SP1, including support for the not-yet-released Windows Server 2008 and beefed up compatibility between 2007's native file format, Office Open XML and the formats used by earlier editions of the suite.

The SP1 changes will be rolled into the retail versions of Office, as well as the editions used by resellers to preinstall the suite on new PCs, in about a month, Shaffner said.

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