Office 2003 SP3 can already be downloaded for some weeks now. The Microsoft Update Product Team Blog announced that SP3 will be available via Microsoft Update at the end of February. I suppose that means that you will also see it in WSUS or in your third party patch management solution. So you can use the remaining time to decide whether you would like to push it to your clients or not.

Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

Service Pack 3 for Office 2003 has several new features. The main reason that speaks for SP3 is that it improves security. You probably heard that SP3 blocks some older file formats because of security reasons. There was a lot of stir on new sites about this issue. Word files older than Word 6.0 cannot be opened anymore with Word 2003 SP3. The same applies to files older than PowerPoint 97. Excel 4.0 charts will be blocked as well. More detailed information and instructions on how to re-enable all file types after installing Office 2003 SP3 can be found in this KB article.

Most comments I've read about this issue were somewhat critical. I think, it is just another example showing that security has top priority for Microsoft now. It even comes before backward compatibility. In my view, this is quite an amazing strategy shift.

The other noteworthy feature is that this SP is supposed to improve compatibility between Office 2003, Office 2007, Vista and Internet Explorer 7. More information can be found in this InfoWeek article.

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I wonder what happens if you install Service Pack 3 on a machine that has Office 2003 and Office 2007 installed. We do this on some of our computers to allow users to decide which version they want to work with. Note that this solution is not for users who want to switch back and forth between the different versions because there is always a certain delay. This KB article has more. Please let me know if you tried deploying SP3 for Office 2003 on computers where Office 2007 is already installed.

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