Microsoft disabling Word 2003's 'fast save' feature

As part of an update to Office 2003, Microsoft is cutting off the feature, which it says can save time, but risks exposing confidential information.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried

Microsoft is killing off a feature in Office 2003 that the company said helped save time, but also ran the risk of exposing confidential information.

As part of Service Pack 3 of Office 2003, which will be available Tuesday as a free download from Microsoft's Web site, Microsoft is disabling Word 2003's "fast save" feature, which works by saving the changes made since the last save, rather than rewriting the whole document to disk.

"While the Fast Save feature speeds up the document-saving process by saving only the changes made to a document, the saved document may contain metadata, such as comments, erased text, previous versions, and authorship," Microsoft said in a white paper on the update. "Disabling Fast Save ensures that confidential data is protected against improper disclosure."

The change is part of what is expected to be the last major update to Office 2003. Service Pack 3 comes nine months after the broad release of Office 2007. It also includes a number of fixes and security enhancements and is designed to work better than prior Office 2003 versions with Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7. Microsoft still recommends large businesses test the software to make sure it plays nice with their collection of software.