Microsoft Office: Will history repeat itself?

Could Office 97 Service Release 2 (SR2) could end up as buggy as SR1, the Office patch that Microsoft Corp. released a year ago?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Bug trackers at the Sumas, Wash., bug-tracking outfit bugnet.com are raising that possibility, issuing an alert today on a number of problems that are plaguing SR2 customers.

Microsoft officials acknowledged they had seen the Bugnet warning, but said they were unable to judge the severity without more technical specifics. "The Bugnet report says there are issues but doesn't say much more," said Microsoft product manager John Duncan.

New version 'chokes'

Foremost among bugs reported by early downloaders, according to Bugnet, is a problem that causes Office 97 SR2 to "choke" if it detects the original, or base, version of any Office application on the system and/or if versions of some files are reported inaccurately. As a result, Bugnet is advising users against installing SR2 if they have any Office 97 applications dating from the first half of 1997 installed on their system.

MS promised no repeat

When it posted SR2 to its Web site last week, Microsoft was quick to assure customers that they would not incur the same kind of problems they found when they attempted to apply the SR1 patch. When that patch was released, Microsoft within two weeks pulled the patch from its Web site and reissued a new version as a result of myriad user complaints.

"Microsoft learned a lot from our last service release and is dedicated to making SR2 as convenient and complete as possible for customers," read a Microsoft statement issued during the SR2 rollout last week.

Duncan said that Microsoft had seen "a lot of enthusiasm" for the product, with more than 70,000 SR2 downloads from its site since last Monday. He said that Microsoft had thoroughly tested the product before posting it and had cautioned users "from the very beginning that they needed to install SR1 before attempting to install SR2."

Bugnet officials did not return by press time a call requesting more specifics on the SR2 problems.

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