Microsoft to release Office 2007 SP1 via Automatic Update in June

Five months after the first service pack for Office 2007 was made generally available to customers, the company has determined it will be safe to provide it over its automatic update service.

The original intent of Automatic Updates was to ease the burden of ensuring clients had the latest software, especially security patches. But with the growing variety of permutations of Windows installations, any problems clients might find with their automatically updated systems can only be tracked and identified through extensive field testing.

So Microsoft waited a fairly significant period of time before enabling Office 2007 SP1 to be downloadable automatically, and may still wait six weeks longer, perhaps more, according to a post on Microsoft's Office Sustained Engineering blog late yesterday evening.

"The availability will happen gradually and not everyone will see it at the same time," the post reads. "Think of the 16th [of June] as the earliest possible start of distribution and that no sooner than that date will SP1 start to become available to customers' systems via this channel. This is necessary to ensure that our service infrastructure can meet the enormous demand for the service pack."

BetaNews tests of Office 2007 SP1, which began early this year, do show significantly improved reliability in key features, most notably with screen updates. Prior to SP1, Word 2007 had a perennial problem with losing track of its cursor locations after fast scrolls, such as rapid twists of the mouse wheel. After installation, we noted that instances of this problem were substantially reduced, though not yet eliminated; today, the problem seems to crop up only 10% as often as before.

Also, a problem with Excel 2007's being able to rapidly load spreadsheets to which third-party add-ins are attached, appears to have been completely eradicated in our tests.

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