Microsoft to push Office 2003 SP3 to users in February

Microsoft to push Office 2003 SP3 to users in February

Summary: Microsoft is going to start pushing automatically to customers its Office 2003 Service Pack (SP) 3 via the Microsoft Update patching mechanism starting on February 27.


Microsoft is going to start pushing automatically to customers its Office 2003 Service Pack (SP) 3 via the Microsoft Update patching mechanism starting on February 27.

Last year, Microsoft officials committed to giving customers a three- to six-month heads-up regarding its plan to push Office service packs using MU.

Microsoft made SP3 available to Office 2003 users via its Microsoft Downloads site on September 18, 2007. MU is one of the Microsoft patching/updating mechanisms aimed primarily at business users, and is designed to allow them to get security and other kinds of updates pushed automatically to multiple users.

Microsoft posted an update notice to the Microsoft Update Product Team blog on January 27 regarding its planned MU push:

"Today we are providing our customers a minimum of 30 days advance notice that Service Pack 3 (SP3) for Office 2003, which was made available to the public on September 18, 2007, will be distributed automatically via Microsoft Update beginning February 27, 2008. This means that those customers who have not already installed SP3 and that have chosen to receive updates automatically will start to receive the service pack as early as February 27. The distribution through MU is a gradual process and so not every customer will see the service pack on February 27."

Microsoft is billing Office 2003 SP3 as adding "important" security enhancements, as well as improving compatibility with Windows Vista and Office 2007.

Can corporate users who still aren't keen on having Office 2003 SP3 pushed automatically to them block or defer SP3? I'm not entirely sure and have put a question into Microsoft on that. I'll post the answer here once I receive one.

It sounds like if you're part of MU, SP3 is coming your way. A Microsoft spokeswoman responded to my question with the following:

"To optimize the customer experience, Microsoft recommends people update their Office 2003 applications and servers to take advantage of the improvements and new security tools available in SP3.

"MU continues to be an opt-in service and any customers wishing to remove themselves from the service can do so. That said, because of the impact this service pack has on end user security, we highly recommend that any customer who has not downloaded it does so. We also do not recommend that users opt out of MU."

Topics: Software, Collaboration, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Hopefully customers who aren't keen on having updates pushed to them...

    ...wouldn't have chosen "automatically install updates for me" in MU/WU/WSUS!
    • Most office users

      are in a corporate setting and the company sets the polices.
    • Updates

      The users around here don't see updates until after we finish our testing and search for patches At this point, we're still looking at workarounds for some of the security updates that break corporate apps before we allow it to install on the enduser computers. Admittedly my nastiest thoughts are about people who write applications in Access and require a rewrite for new versions of Access and even for service packs and not about Microsoft. It seems most of the developers we deal with took lessons in firm delivery dates from Ballmer and co. :-(
  • Improvements?

    ???take advantage of the improvements and new security tools available in SP3."

    Just what pray tell are these improvements? Microsoft???s usual take on improvements is to de-tune and break the program so that they can push the latest greatest mess they have developed!
    • Well, if you would read something

      you wouldn't have to ask or make stupid claims.
      • Why didn't you just answer his question...

        instead of being so rude.

        Oh I know, you're just trolling on a Monday morning.
        • It's MSFT's Ax to Grind

          ...what do you EXPECT from the Ballmer-lovin' troll, anyway?
      • the NAG is back

        Making more stupid comments, and just generally wasting our time.
    • How about more annoyance?

      Wasn't it one of the Office SPs that introduced the "Please shut down all Office applications before shutting Windows down" prompts when you try to shut Windows down? So you kick off a shutdown and walk away, only to come back a day later and find your machine still running with this inexplicable prompt on the screen.

  • Say no to SP3

    Isn't SP3 the one that won't allow Word to open older Word file extensions?

    I'm saying no to it. Word is working fine, I watch where I surf and what I d/l. No thanks.
  • Prime example why I do not use automatic updates...

    It's not MS's business what to install on my machine. Period.

    Yes, I use SP3, but that's beside the point.
  • RE: Microsoft to push Office 2003 SP3 to users in February

    To answer this question: "Can corporate users who still aren???t keen on having Office 2003 SP3 pushed automatically to them block or defer SP3?"
    Business users utilizing WSUS or any other patch management solution versus WU or MU auto updates should be able to determine if/when they want to "push" down O2K3 SP3 to their users.
    Small business users that simply run all MU's or WU's may not realize what they are getting. Most of those users will find that after install certain old file formats may not open due to new "security features" in SP3. That is unless MS has decided to change that in the SP. Calling older file formats security risks caused some major issues at my office for several users that receive those older file formats on a weekly basis. Our Admin pushing the updates didn't bother to fully test the update/SP. He simply looks at the security level and says "If MS says it's critical or High I push no questions asked." Management doesn't know any better either and are still operating on reaction instead of being proactive to prevent the issues.
  • RE: Microsoft to push Office 2003 SP3 to users in February

    I have no trouble with updates as long as they do not limit my ability to use my Office 2003 Suite. I did install SP-3 and was unable to open documents that were created in older versions of office. This was not an option for me and secondly I don't want to have to play around in my registry file to allow my Office 2003 to open files from older versions of Office. Needless to say I remove SP-3 and everything works properly!!
    • MS Finally Came Up With a 'Fix' for That

      MS FINALLY came out with a simple batch to fix that problem (before that you had to manually hack the reg). It can be found at The conversion function is still there, you just have to re-enable it.

      Ticked me off when it first came out, but after this 'fix', we've had no problems with it.
  • I just reset my permissions

    to notify me of updates but do not download or install without my permission in MS Updates. I did this just because of this story. I don't want my Office programs broken. Will this fix the problem or is MS going to force it somehow even though I have done this?
    • How do you reset permissions?

      How do you reset permissions so that updates are not automatic?
      • here ya be emilys

        Basically go to start, then settings, then control panel. Next you double click the automatic updates button, and choose the one that fits your needs, then apply and ok.
    • Won't work when Microsoft updates Windows Updates

      They'll change your settings and install
      whatever Microsoft wants on your computer,
      like they did here:

      Top Story, September 13, 2007
      Microsoft updates Windows without users'
      consent By Scott Dunn

      Microsoft has begun patching files on
      Windows XP and Vista without users'
      knowledge, even when the users have turned
      off auto-updates.

      Many companies require testing of patches
      before they are widely installed, and
      businesses in this situation are objecting
      to the stealth patching.

      Files changed with no notice to users

      Don't believe they'll do something like that
      again? I have an International Toll Bridge
      in Kansas that would be a lucrative
      investment for you.

      A Leopard does not change his spots.
      Ole Man
  • RE: Microsoft to push Office 2003 SP3 to users in February

    What I get from reading up on this is that MS will force SP3 on all users at the end of February. They plan on doing this by breaking up SP3 in smaller updates that will be required updates and consumers would not know that they are doing this.
    • Source of SP3 info

      Where do you learn of such info. I l peaked through the MS Office website without locating anything on this "push" technique you point out, that is where "consumers would not know"

      How does MS make the "smaller updates" required?

      Are you stating that they are snuck onto a end-users PC without permission or without informing PC owner? Similar technique as when MS pushed out updated Windows Update code not too long ago?

      End of February. Not on a regular patch Tuesday?