A third service pack for Office 2003, promising improved security and enhanced compatibility with Windows Vista, Office 2007, Internet Explorer 7 and Windows SharePoint Services, will be available starting tomorrow (September 18), Microsoft officials say.

You can learn about and download Office 2003 SP3 from Microsoft’s Office Update or Microsoft Update pages, or just navigate directly to the free download. (These links aren’t live as of this writing, and the Microsoft spokesman who e-mailed me late today didn’t know exactly when they’d go live, but 6 a.m. PDT was his best guess. But don’t complain to me if they don’t work then–just give it a few hours.)

The download will be 120MB for the U.S. version and “no larger than 140MB” for other languages, the spokesman wrote. Office 2003 customers who use Microsoft’s AutoUpdate feature will be notified of SP3’s availability “over the next few weeks,” the spokesman wrote.

SP3 appears to address a variety of generally minor annoyances and bugs across the suite. Some examples:

With the update installed, if an Office 2003 user packages a PowerPoint presentation created in Office 2007, and the presentation is then re-opened in Office 2007, data from the original Office 2007 version will now be available.

If you try to open a corrupt or damaged Excel file, you’ll now be given the option of trying to repair the file. And when opening a spreadsheet with Excel Macros across a slow network, you’ll be presented with the macro security warning.

A bug that causes Word 2003 to crash when you tried to copy a Webmail message into Word using Internet Explorer 7 has been fixed. If you create a Word document from an online template, the macros, toolbars and auto text entries will no longer vanish when the document is closed and reopened.

You’ll now be able to install Access Add-ins in Windows Vista.You’ll be able to open an Access Database Project created in a different version of Access, then immediately create an Access Database Extension without an error. Moving the mouse of pages of a tab control in Access 2003 will no longer cause flickering.

The complete list of fixes and changes is too long to repeat here, but you’ll be able to download a White Paper with the gory details from the sites listed above. And we’ll be checking out SP3 ourselves to see if it causes any problems.

Source: blogs.pcworld.com

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