When it comes to Office, Microsoft doesn't want to repeat history. On Tuesday, the company posted Service Release 1 (SR1) to the Web for download. It is the first collection of patches and fixes for Office 2000 since the product began shipping last June.
Microsoft is hoping that this will be the one and only SR1 it delivers for Office 2000. That wasn't the case when the company released service releases for Office 97; it was required to recall and patch both releases it delivered for that product.
The software giant claims it has learned its lesson. Consequently, it is making the full service release available for download on Tuesday, and plans to include the SR1 code in packaged versions of Office 2000 starting in April or May. "We're taking steps to make this [service] release go well," said Lisa Gurry, Office product manager. "We've done the most extensive testing ever on a service release," she said.
Microsoft said 5,000 testers -- both internal and external -- have been checking out the update over the last several months. The company is also documenting the processes around Office 2000 SR1 more completely, Gurry said, by providing a number of white papers -- including one on ensuring compatibility with Windows 2000, and another on how to use the new Auto Update feature. The somewhat controversial Auto Update feature recommends which updates and patches should be delivered automatically to a user's system, but only with the user's approval.
Auto Update isn't the only new service that's part of SR1. Microsoft has added a "Save My Settings" wizard to the service release. The wizard allows users to save their profile or system preferences so that they can download them over the Net, allowing them to more easily work on multiple computers. Microsoft said Auto Update and Save My Settings are both examples of how it plans to deliver software as a service.
These two features are also the only new technologies that are part of SR1. As a general rule, Microsoft has decided against delivering new technologies via service packs; instead, it is using these updates only to provide collected fixes and patches.
The rest of SR1 includes these kinds of patches for all of the core Office 2000 products -- Access, Excel, FrontPage, Outlook, Publisher, PowerPoint and Word. Users can select which set of fixes they need, making the SR1 download range in size from 26 MB to 40 MB (for the full set of Office Premium Suite fixes).
In addition to the individual point product fixes, SR1 includes a variety of security updates for Excel, Outlook and Internet Explorer worms, viruses and other security breaches. It also includes various Y2K updates and updated system level components that will bring Office 2000 up to par with Windows 2000's features, such as the inclusion of the latest Windows Installer (version 1.1) release.
"We are recommending all [Office 2000] users upgrade with SR1," said Gurry. "After all, it's based entirely on customer feedback."
Users report problems with the Office 2000 service release. Take some advice from Jesse Berst and go and read the news comment at AnchorDesk UK.