Office 2003 SP3 to be mainly a security upgrade

Microsoft plans to make some of the security improvements and features it built into Office 2007 available for Office 2003 by releasing Service Pack 3 (no release date has been disclosed), which will be primarily focused on security, according to Joshua Edwards, a technical product manager for Office at Microsoft. "We're trying to take what we learned from building Office 2007 and bring as much as we can to Office 2003. We're not going to take everything, but we will take as much as we can." So far at least one apparently serious security bug in Office 2007 has been reported.

Many of the changes will be invisible to users, hardening the applications and file parsers against attacks, Edwards said. Such changes under the hood could help protect against attacks that exploit security vulnerabilities in Office applications. However, some user features may also make it to the older version, including the ability to select a preferred encryption mechanism, a feature the U.S. government requested for Office 2007. The last service pack for Office 2003 was released in September 2005 and also was aimed at beefing up security, enhancing application stability and adding support for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2005.

News source: News.com

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