The first Office 2007 Service Pack 1 beta is out

On August 15, Microsoft released to a select set of testers a first beta drop of Service Pack (SP) 1 for Office 2007. What's in it? When's the final release due? Microsoft won't say.

On August 15, Microsoft released to a select set of testers a first beta drop of Service Pack (SP) 1 for Office 2007.

The beta appears to be available to members of the Office 2007 Technology Adoption Program (TAP)only at this point.

Microsoft released to manufacturing (RTM'd) Office 2007 on November 6, 2006.

Microsoft officials confirmed the availabilty of the Office 2007 SP1 Beta but declined to share any information on what fixes and updates are included in the pack. The Office team also declined to provide a final release target date for the service pack.

The only statement the team would provide, via a spokeswoman:

"We have a long history of securing feedback around future technologies from customer and partners.  We have invited a very small number of customers and partners to participate in early testing of future products. We have nothing new to share around timing of future releases."

Aubrey Moren, a contributor to the Windows Connected site, posted about availabilty of the first Office 2007 SP 1 Beta.

Moren said he wasn't sure what new functionality, if any, was in the service pack beta. But he did notice a change in the way Microsoft is branding service packs.

"In prior releases, the Help -> About screen would indicate what Service Pack, if any, was installed. The code for that text was extracted from the MSO.DLL file, and that presented some issues," Moren explained. "For example, if a user had installed Office Professional and subsequently installed a Service Pack for it (updating the MSO.DLL file), other Office products on that computer, such as Project or Visio, would also indicate they were at that Service Pack level, even if they had not been patched. Despite Microsoft's insistence upon using Add/Remove programs to verify whether or not Service Packs had been installed, many people were still using the About screen, and this was leading to Service Packs not being applied, leaving programs open to vulnerabilities.

"In Office 2007, the About screen now shows the version number for the product's .exe file and the MSO.DLL file, which will give a much more accurate picture of the patch level of the program in question," Moren added.

So it looks like service pack secrecy -- for whatever inexplicable reasons --  is continuing at Microsoft. Anyone out there got any additional info on what's new in Office 2007 SP1 and when the final is likely to hit?