First Office 2007, SharePoint 2007 service packs ready for download

Microsoft has released the first service pack (SPs) for Office 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007 -- a calendar quarter ahead of schedule. So what's coming in the first Office System 2007 SP update and how is it being rolled out? Read on.

On December 11, Microsoft released the first service pack (SP) for Office 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007 -- a calendar quarter ahead of schedule.

The new service packs, known collectively as "the 2007 Microsoft Office System Service Pack 1," roll up the various Office 2007 and SharePoint 2007 fixes and updates that Microsoft has pushed out individually over the past year. The Office System SP1 bits can be downloaded now. A list of what's in the service pack can be found in this whitepaper.

The SharePoint 2007 SP1 update also is required for users who are planning to run SharePoint Server 2007 on Windows Server 2008, which is due out in the first quarter of next year. Without SP1, SharePoint Server 2007 is not compatible with Windows Server 2008.

Microsoft is not going to push the new Office/SharePoint packs to users via Windows Update/Automatic Update -- which should be a relief for administrators who are dealing on December 11 with Microsoft's regular pile of patches released as part of its monthly Patch Tuesday event.

Instead, Microsoft initially is putting the Office and SharePoint service packs on Microsoft Update (MU) and the company's Download Center sites. Some time three to six months from now, Microsoft is planning to push the Office 2007 SP1 and SharePoint Server 2007 SP1 builds via Automatic Update, but it will give users a 30-day notice before doing so, officials said. There is no blocker tool akin to the Windows one for Office service packs and currently no plans for Microsoft to release one, officials added.

There don't seem to be any huge, show-stopper bugs that Microsoft is addressing in either of the new service packs.

"On the desktop, the most prominent fix is in Excel," said Rob Helm, director of research with the Directions on Microsoft research firm. "'When inputting calculations that should result in numbers 65,534 through 65,536, Office Excel 2007 no longer returns the display error of 100,001.' That was an embarassing problem and a real confidence-sapper in all the financial firms that use Excel for business-critical models."

Microsoft officials said the service packs also fixed "at minimum" the five software bugs that crash most frequently each application that comprises the Office 2007 suite. The SP also improves the performance of Excel 2007, Outlook 2007 (where there were "lots of customer pain points," Microsoft officials acknowledge), PowerPoint 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007 and provides "incremental advances" in security.

Directions on Microsoft's Helms said, "What I'm hoping to see is fixes in performance, especially on Windows Vista. That has been a real sticking point with users, although it's hard to know who to blame, Office or the OS (operating system)."

What else are you hoping to see fixed with Office 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007 with SP1?