Microsoft to push Office 2003 SP3 to users in February

Microsoft is going to start pushing automatically to customers its Office 2003 Service Pack (SP) 3 via the Microsoft Update patching mechanism starting on February 27.

Last year, Microsoft officials committed to giving customers a three- to six-month heads-up regarding its plan to push Office service packs using MU.

Microsoft made SP3 available to Office 2003 users via its Microsoft Downloads site on September 18, 2007. MU is one of the Microsoft patching/updating mechanisms aimed primarily at business users, and is designed to allow them to get security and other kinds of updates pushed automatically to multiple users.

Microsoft posted an update notice to the Microsoft Update Product Team blog on January 27 regarding its planned MU push:

“Today we are providing our customers a minimum of 30 days advance notice that Service Pack 3 (SP3) for Office 2003, which was made available to the public on September 18, 2007, will be distributed automatically via Microsoft Update beginning February 27, 2008. This means that those customers who have not already installed SP3 and that have chosen to receive updates automatically will start to receive the service pack as early as February 27. The distribution through MU is a gradual process and so not every customer will see the service pack on February 27.”

Microsoft is billing Office 2003 SP3 as adding “important” security enhancements, as well as improving compatibility with Windows Vista and Office 2007.

Can corporate users who still aren’t keen on having Office 2003 SP3 pushed automatically to them block or defer SP3? I’m not entirely sure and have put a question into Microsoft on that. I’ll post the answer here once I receive one.

It sounds like if you’re part of MU, SP3 is coming your way. A Microsoft spokeswoman responded to my question with the following:

“To optimize the customer experience, Microsoft recommends people update their Office 2003 applications and servers to take advantage of the improvements and new security tools available in SP3.

“MU continues to be an opt-in service and any customers wishing to remove themselves from the service can do so. That said, because of the impact this service pack has on end user security, we highly recommend that any customer who has not downloaded it does so. We also do not recommend that users opt out of MU.”


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