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Microsoft Updates Office 2007 With "Service Pack 2"

This week brought a major update to Microsoft Office 2007 -- Service Pack 2, a free download that fixes bugs, improves performance and adds a few new features in the company's bundle of productivity applications (see my review).

This update should arrive automatically if you use Windows' Microsoft Update option, or you can download the 290-megabyte file yourself.

msft_office_logo.jpg

The headline attraction of Office 2007 SP2 is the support it adds for some important, non-Microsoft file formats. It can read and write Open Document Format files, which may help Office users share files with people running the sometimes-unimpressive, but always free and open-source OpenOffice.org suite. Office 2007 SP2 also lets users save a copy of their work as a Portable Document Format file -- a helpful feature that Microsoft had unwisely required people to install an optional add-on to use before.

A note on Microsoft's tech-support site catalogs other changes this update brings (for instance, "Adds conversion rates to the Excel Euro Currency Tools add-in for the Maltese lira and for the Cypriot pound"), while a separate article details SP2's tweaks to Outlook alone, including some advertised performance improvements.

I tested Service Pack 2 on a Windows XP desktop running the "Standard" edition of Office -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The install took several minutes and required a restart, after which I tried opening a few OpenOffice 3 documents in Microsoft's suite.

Most word-processing files looked about right, with only the occasional misaligned graphic or indent (as eWeek writer Jason Brooks found in his tests). But the OpenOffice spreadsheets I opened in Excel came out all wrong -- formulas vanished from cells, replaced by the last number OpenOffice had calculated in those spots.

That can't possibly be what Microsoft intended, but I couldn't find any mention of this issue on the company's Office Interoperability blog. That site did, however, link to a blog post by an ODF developer explaining that the ODF specification "does not yet specify formulas." That seems a huge omission -- certainly something that users should get a clear warning about before they wonder what's wrong with their spreadsheet.

Have you installed Service Pack 2 for Office 2007 yet? Post your own review in the comments...

By Rob Pegoraro  |  April 30, 2009; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  Productivity  
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Comments

Sounds like the old poison pill routine from MS

Posted by: tbva | April 30, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, tbva: "Hey, we're fully compliant with all standards... oh, no, wait, no we're not."

Heck, MS doesn't even comply with its OWN standards for the OpenDocument format they pushed on the EU.

Anyone tested SP2 to see if they've added the ability to handle transparencies in .pngs in Powerpoint? How about the Incredible Disappearing Graphic problem (Office04 or 08 PPT files opened in Office 03/07)?

Bah.

Sooner I can have all my machines MicrosoftFree, the better. Zoho, take me away!

Posted by: Bush--notrelated | April 30, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I still use Microsoft Office 2003. Why should I upgrade to 2007? I have read that because of interface changes, such as the "ribbon," it is not worth the learning curve involved.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | May 1, 2009 4:50 AM | Report abuse

Excel 2007 was my introduction to both spreadsheets and scripting, and it has been the single most valuable tool for getting ahead at my job and for getting on top of my life.

While it seems like moving between word processing formats would be a fairly straightforward process, converting large, formula-rich spreadsheets seems beyond the scope of general need. It's difficult enough to move between MS versions.

What I would like to see is a way to open Excel 2007 documents, formulas and formatting in tact, on any machine, anywhere, in a way that would allow for minor edits or comments, similar perhaps to Adobe Reader. Maybe something like this already exists?

Posted by: mattmorrell1 | May 1, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

>>the OpenOffice spreadsheets I opened in Excel came out all wrong -- formulas vanished from cells, replaced by the last number OpenOffice had calculated in those spots.

Did you use ODF 1.2? OO.org 3.0 defaults to it. MS Office 2007 supports only ODF 1.1.

Posted by: lseltzer | May 1, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Office SP2 seems to have speeded performance on my machine, but the Outlook junk mail filter is nuts -- it swept up 10 or 12 senders I've been getting for years with no issues in Outlook or Gmail. To compound the problem, Outlook still doesn't automatically move a junk message to Inbox after you click "Add to safe senders list". I can't understand why I have to go through two procedures to move a "safe sender" from junk to inbox.

Posted by: IanGilbert | May 1, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Spot on Ian. Windows mail requires the same two step process. From experience, I never download the MS "junk mail filter" update. You have to "teach" it all over each time you update the filter definitions. No thanks.

Posted by: tbva | May 1, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

So far, no problems on either of my two home computers since they updated on Tuesday and Wednesday. But I haven't noticed any good changes either.

Posted by: pauldavison | May 1, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

frankly, office 97 was just fine for me, i upgraded at my small business to office 2004 very reluctantly and i much prefer open office. far fewer glitches, far fewer off results.


Posted by: patb | May 1, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Installed fine and all of my Office 2007 Professional edition programs work as before except Outlook. Now with Outlook SP2 there is a noticeable stutter and the cursor freezes for a second or two when I delete an email message.

I'm going to do a clean install in a couple of days when the Win 7 RC is released so I'll see if things are better after that.

Posted by: scarper86 | May 1, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

>I still use Microsoft Office 2003. Why should I upgrade to 2007? I have read that because of interface changes, such as the "ribbon," it is not worth the learning curve involved.

--------------------------

Bitter_Bill, as someone who has written 11 books about Microsoft Office, I can think of no worthwhile reason.

If you were entirely new to Office, I could be convinced that Office 2007's ribbon interface might be more intuitive, and there are a few nice additions here and there. However, if you are a long-time Office user for whom the tasks you perform are more or less second nature, the time it takes you to relearn the system -- and the frustration you will experience along the way -- are unlikely to ever be adequately repaid.

I would say the same for Vista, only more so.

Posted by: bcamarda2 | May 1, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Rob, get your facts straight. MS did not "unwisely" withhold PDF capability, Adobe fought them on it. It was only after PDF became an ISO standard that Adobe no longer had a leg to stand on. It was in the Wall Street Journal. See http://www.informationweek.com/news/windows/microsoft_news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=188701361.

Wow, WaPo gets it wrong a whole lot of the time.

Posted by: gbooksdc | May 1, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Bitter_Bill. I am still running XP-Pro and Office 2003. is there another Y2k bug coming around? "Why fix it, if it isn't broke?"

Office 2007's interface is "too artsy" for my taste and I agree, it takes up valuable time to learn the nuances of new applications. it's probably a hard-drive hog, just like its predecesssors.

But then again, I love DOS and those great games!!!

===================
I still use Microsoft Office 2003. Why should I upgrade to 2007? I have read that because of interface changes, such as the "ribbon," it is not worth the learning curve involved.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | May 1, 2009 4:50 AM

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | May 1, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Have you ever considered promoting the other free alternative, Lotus Symphony from IBM?

http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/home.nsf/home

I have installed it recently - because I needed a visual formula editor - and like it better than Open Office that I have had for many years.

Posted by: teplicky101 | May 1, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

It just "happens" not to support Open Office spreadsheets. Sure, and I believe in the Easter Bunny.

Posted by: iansmccarthy | May 3, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

As other people have illustrated, there is almost no compelling reason to use Office 2007. For the vast majority of users, Office 2003 does everything you need faster and easier without the incompatibilities and clutter that Office 2007 adds.

... and the same can be said for the Vista debacle. XP works better for everyone who doesn't need a nanny bugging you with error messages constantly.

Lesson: Don't ever buy the latest MS product unless you just love bloated software. Save your old software discs so that you can install the relatively better old stuff on your next new PC, which will undoubtedly come pre-loaded with the latest crapware.

Moreover, shop around for alternatives -- other office software for Mac and Linux are coming of age. My latest friend to switch to a Mac partitioned his drive, installed BootCamp and all his Windows software. Then within a couple months he discovered that he never uses Windows anymore. Maybe MS really is losing its monopolistic control over "productivity computing".

Posted by: roule | May 4, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Excuse my ignorance on the issue (I'm not very computer savvy).

I have Vista and Office 2007 and don't use Outlook at all. I seldom use the other Office applications and am still learning the ones I use. Should I download Service Pack 2??

Posted by: txchick | May 4, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

-------
"As other people have illustrated, there is almost no compelling reason to use Office 2007. For the vast majority of users, Office 2003 does everything you need faster and easier without the incompatibilities and clutter that Office 2007 adds.

... and the same can be said for the Vista debacle. XP works better for everyone who doesn't need a nanny bugging you with error messages constantly.

Lesson: Don't ever buy the latest MS product unless you just love bloated software."
--------
Office 2007 - particularly Excel 2007 - is the greatest productivity assassin I have seen in 45 years. Office 2003 is your best bet, if you must lie in Microsoft's bed.

Posted by: Texan7 | May 6, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

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