Microsoft posts Office XP update

Microsoft Corp. has posted a free downloadable service pack for Office XP that combines several earlier updates and adds some minor fixes for every application in the suite.

“No one single item is a major fix,” says Simon Marks, Office XP product manager. “But we’d certainly recommend everyone download Service Pack 2, because there’s a very, very long list of stuff in there.” Microsoft has made improvements in areas of security, stability, and performance with this service pack, Marks says.

Future updates to Office XP will require that SP2 has been installed, Marks adds. The newest service pack update should be applied to Microsoft Office XP Professional, Microsoft Office XP Professional with FrontPage, and Microsoft Office XP Standard, according to the company.

Service Pack 2 can be obtained as a download from the Microsoft site, or by ordering a CD from Microsoft. Even with the download option, three types are available, Marks says. Also, Microsoft recommends you keep your original Office XP CD handy when installing the service pack, in case the installation wizard needs to refer to software on the disc. It is not intended to verify ownership, but as an installation resource, according to Microsoft.

Users can request a stand-alone update, downloading the entire SP2; or, as Microsoft recommends for most end users, a dynamic update can be applied. In that case, the user downloads a small application that analyzes the PC’s Office XP installation and then further retrieves any elements of SP2 that are not present. Also, an administrative download is available for IT managers who are applying SP2 to dozens or more PCs.

The service pack contains “changes for pretty much every single application in the suite,” Mark confirms. Office XP includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and FrontPage.

Some of the fixes were made for individual customers, and not generally released until now, he says. “Some of it was not available previously, but there’s nothing that would’ve caused any major pain.”

Many of the modifications and fixes resulted from user reports through the automated error-reporting tools that are part of Windows and were first built into the Office suite with the Office XP edition, Marks says. “That has allowed us to ensure that the service packs are even more effective than ever, and so when a service pack comes out, it is more stable,” he says.

Among the fixes were repairs to the Office XP speller, a modification to the handling of picture orientation in Word documents, and support for the trademark symbol, for example.

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