Applications

Microsoft sets date for Office revamp

The first service pack for the productivity package will be put out in June, a release that should mark a milestone for business customers.

Microsoft announced on Friday that it expects to release the first major update for Office 2003 in late June.

Office 2003, the latest version of the company's market-leading productivity package, was launched in late October amid considerable fanfare about its new capabilities, which allow the software to serve as a broad tool for consuming and manipulating corporate data.

Microsoft typically waits about six months after a major product release to put out the first service pack (SP1), a collection of previously released bug fixes and updates. The late June target for releasing SP1 for Office 2003 would put it slightly behind that pattern, but the new Office has been subject to relatively few bugs in its first three months.

The introduction of the first service pack is a milestone for major business customers, who often prefer to wait for the first roundup of patches before considering a new product stable enough to install.

Analysts have said the release of SP1 is likely to be less significant for Office 2003, however, as big businesses will still be testing the product's extensive and complicated connections to back-end computing systems at that point. "The first service pack is kind of a bogus landmark" for Office 2003, Gartner analyst Michael Silver said. "Most businesses aren't going to be anywhere near ready by the time that comes out."