Office 2003 SP3 is available for download. The main new features are better Vista support, better interoperability with Office 2007, and improved security. It might make sense to rollout this service pack together with Office 2007 since it is possible to run both Office versions on the same computer.

The service pack also includes two interesting security related patches that have been released previously: MOICE (Microsoft Office Isolated Conversion Environment) and File Block. MOICE converts the binary formats of Office 2003 to the Office Open XML format of Office 2007. File Block allows admins to prevent users from opening certain file formats using Registry or Group Policy.

This KB article has a complete description of the changes in Office 2003 SP3. Feature summaries can be found in this eWEEk article and at

We will probably deploy this SP soon, although I'm tempted to switch to Office 2007 instead. I've been working myself with Office 2007 since its release. At the beginning, I was quite shocked about the new user interface, but after a while, I come to really love it. It is the same with Vista. It was not love at first sight, but it can become a passion in the long run. The only (big) problem I still see is that some of our users won't recover so fast from the first shock.

Thus, we're considering letting Office 2003 installed for a while and just offer Office 2007 as an additional option. This KB article explains how you can run Office 2003 and Office 2007 on one computer. The earlier adopters among your users can move to Office 2007 then, the ones with a more traditional attitude can just stick with Office 2003. By the way, another option would be to use Office 2003 menus in Office 2007 or to install this flash application that helps in finding the new position of Office 2007 commands quickly.

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Whatever solution you prefer, maybe it makes sense to deploy Office 2007 together with Office 2003 SP3. We usually rollout such big changes only with new images. So we will just include everything in our latest master image.

  1. Jim 16 years ago

    Here I work at a community college where they needed to teach both versions of Office in many of my labs. Typically we’ve installed most of our software including Office via GPO’s off of a Win2k3 server. Installing both Office 2003 and 2007 via GPO was nothing but a pain in the *ss.

    Of course MS had to remove the simplicity and deployment features that were already in Office previous to 2007 so that they could push their own deployment software at you for $$$. Anytime though that we tried to install via gpo probably 99% of the systems had OSE.EXE errors. After a few reboots the errors seemed to go away and the software installed.

    If the both Office packages were installed manually, it wasn’t a problem but via gpo, it wasn’t worth the trouble. It should have worked but wouldn’t. It wasn’t even a matter of it being the main apps like Word. If the lab needed Office 2007 enterprise plus Visio 2003 and Project 2003, we still saw these problems.

    I didn’t even mention the reregistering that some of the Office 2007 apps do if you last ran a 2003 version of the same app. We’ve gotten alot of complaints about that one as it takes several minutes to reregister. In my opinion it was yet one more piece of unfinished software coming out of MS that they push on people. We wouldn’t have installed it this early but since the students can’t buy Office 2003 any longer for their home machines it creates havoc for everyone. Thanks again MS for your monopolistic practices.

    Maybe this service pack will help with some of this but I just might put the installations in the image next time. I prefer to keep my images clean but I might have to change my rules on that.

  2. Jim, I can understand that you are annoyed about the problems Group Policy software deployment causes. But if you ask me, Group Policy was never really designed for such purpose. We’ve been experimenting with software deployment using Group Policy before, but it was too unreliable. We now use SMS which is much more reliable. However, I am still not a friend of software deployment, especially with big packages like Office. I prefer to create a new master image, test it thoroughly with a couple of users and then rollout the new OS with all the latest software installed. In my opinion, this is the most reliable way to deploy large software packages. We even reinstall the complete OS if a user PC has problems which can’t be fixed within a couple of minutes. Imaging is simply faster than trying to fix a messed up system. I think that more organizations will use this method in the future since Vista is perfectly prepared for this.

  3. Richard Burkhart 15 years ago

    I installed Office 2007 on my home computer and also my Toshiba laptop. Everytime I switch from 2007 to 2003 the computer takes a few minutes. It looks like it is reregistering or something like that. Is there a good solution for my installation?

    Computer Instructor/Microsoft office Suite

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