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Microsoft Office 2000 SR-1 Adds Dysfunction to the Windows Family

Written By: C. McNulty
Published On: April 17 2000

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Event Summary

[TechWeb - 23 March 2000] Microsoft Corp. [NASDAQ:MSFT] has rolled out Service Release 1 (SR-1) for Office 2000, which combines previously available updates with customer-driven enhancements. SR-1 offers more than 500 fixes and enhancements to the various components of the Office 2000 suite.

Despite naysayers, Microsoft has enjoyed an explosive deployment rate with Office 2000 since its introduction some nine months ago. With deployment on a record 16 percent of desktops worldwide, Office 2000 has surpassed previous versions twofold, according to the Redmond, Wash., developer.

To assist users in deploying SR-1, Microsoft has made available a new e-service called Auto Update. This service can examine an installed Office 2000 package and recommend only required enhancements and product updates along with automating the patching process.

Products impacted by SR-1 include Access, ClipArt, Excel, FrontPage, Office Tools, Office Web Server, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, and Word. The brunt of the patches affect Excel, Word and Outlook.

Microsoft recommends all Office 2000 users install SR-1 to ensure the latest features and patches are available. New retail copies of Office 2000 will include SR-1 as part of the product.

Market Impact

At least in theory, you can download MS Office 2000 SR-1 from http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/info/officeksr1.htm. But the first question is why?

Microsoft does a stellar job of convincing the market that each new packet of bug fixes is an improvement. (For clarity, Microsoft uses the term "service pack" for Windows NT and Internet Explorer, "service release" for Office and Windows 95/98 products.) This has not uniformly been true; in the Windows NT 4.0 world, Service Packs 1, 3, & 5 were pretty good; Service Pack 2, 4, & 6 had deployment issues.

Many initial tests on Office 2000 SR-1 have found installation difficulties. TEC's own testing bears this out. When we were finally able to get SR-1 to download, the installation program insisted on locating a CD for Office 2000 Premium. Unfortunately, our test bed, a Compaq Armada E500, was only running Small Business Edition. As a result, we were unable to complete the upgrade. Oh, well.

Sometimes, Microsoft uses its interim releases to deploy new features or essential software patches. The major pieces of SR-1 include:

  • A new version of Internet Explorer 5.01

  • AutoUpdate, which lets users determine which fixes they need

  • Save My Settings, which lets a user's Office preferences be transferred easily to another PC

  • Patches for Access, Excel, Front Page, Outlook, Publisher, PowerPoint, and Word

  • Security patches

None of these updates are essential unless users are trying to solve a specific application problem.

User Recommendations

Office 2000 SR-1 is a bug-laden installation. Most customers don't need to install it. Fortunately, given the performance of Microsoft's download site, many users will never get the chance.

Organizations should establish a firm policy that these sorts of updates should be performed by internal IT staff, and then only after sufficient testing. None of the new features are essential. We recommend installation of SR-1 only to patch specific Office 2000-related bugs.

Finally, be warned: SR-1 is a 26-40MB download. Don't try this at home on a modem. You will be better off ordering the CD directly from Microsoft - it's free except for shipping costs.

 
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