Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 Released

Available for download now or as "critical update" via Automatic Update service

Service Pack 2 (SP2) for the Microsoft Office 2007 product family is available today. It can be downloaded at Microsoft Update here.

The service pack includes a number of performance and feature improvements, along with some document format extensions in the Office suite. Microsoft previously described many of the new features in SP2, but a complete list is provided here. Associated Knowledge Base articles can be accessed here.

Office 2007 SP2 also includes service packs for Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services. Microsoft points to some Knowledge Base articles and tips for those two solutions in this blog.

SP2 can be obtained right away by downloading it. However, if you aren't in a hurry to get it, Microsoft plans to release SP2 as a "critical update" via its Automatic Update service in 90 days. The company plans to warn users 30 days before the service pack arrives.

The new service pack affects various applications in the Office suite, as well as Microsoft Office Server and Windows SharePoint Services. The most notable change with SP2 is built-in support in Office 2007 for the OpenDocument Format (ODF), XML Paper Specification (XPS) and Portable Document Format (PDF).

With SP2 installed, users can save Office 2007's Open XML-based files as ODF files. Moreover, the ODF file type can be specified as the default document format in Office 2007.

Some of the formatting between Open XML and ODF doesn't track, as explained by Dough Mahugh, Microsoft's senior program manager on the Office interoperability team, in his blog. For instance, there appear to be a few line-spacing differences in the example he presented.

ODF is used in various free Office-like productivity suites, such as IBM's Lotus Symphony and Sun Microsystems' applications. ODF is an international standard maintained under OASIS. It came into sharp contrast with Microsoft's Open XML format, also known as Office Open XML (OOXML), when Microsoft began pressing to make OOXML into an international standard, too.

In November, OOXML became an international standard known as ISO/IEC 29500:2008. The current Office 2007 product doesn't support that standard, instead supporting the earlier Ecma OOXML standard (Ecma-376).

The ISO standards battle over OOXML was a bitter affair, with industry rivals criticizing the process and incomplete documentation. Microsoft has since joined OASIS to foster the ODF standard, but a statement from the ODF Alliance, which promotes ODF use, suggests that hard feelings still remain.

"This is a victory for ODF, as it signifies a reversal of course by Microsoft from their decision to shun the format during the initial launch of Office 2007," said Marino Marcich, the ODF Alliance's managing director, in a prepared statement. He recommended that governments test the interoperability of Office ODF files with other applications that use that format.

The SP2 release is noteworthy as part of Microsoft's general commitment to enabling document-format interoperability, according to Tom Robertson, Microsoft's associate general counsel. He noted that end users, such as governments, have a special interest interoperable document formats.

"Document-format interoperability is especially important in the public sector given the increased demand for open and transparent government, the acute need for efficient government and citizen services (e-government frameworks), and the rising demand for data portability," Robertson wrote.

Microsoft has opened up the implementer notes for Ecma-376 first edition, which is the OOXML version currently used in Office 2007 SP2. In addition, the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems has partnered with Microsoft to test ISO/IEC 29500 compliance.

Microsoft also provided some details on SP2 for Project 2007 and Project Server 2007, which are described a blog here. In addition, Microsoft plans to provide information on upgrading Project Server 2007 to run on 64-bit Windows Server 2008 "in the coming weeks on TechNet," according to the blog. Project Portfolio Server 2007 will also get a Service Pack 2 "within the next two months."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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