Microsoft revealed this week that its first Microsoft Office 2003 service release, due in late spring, will be a major release that includes new security features and major improvements to the two new Office applications, Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 and Microsoft Office OneNote 2003. In a post-release meeting late last year, the Office team discussed some of these improvements, and although the representatives I spoke with at the time were unwilling to give specific details about the changes, a list of those improvements is slowly becoming available.
Like earlier service releases, Office 2003 Service Release 1 (SR1) will include all the bug fixes and patches that the company has released for the various Office products since it first introduced the suite in October 2003. But like Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), due around the same time, Office 2003 SR1 will include some security technologies culled from the company's Springboard security push, which applies future-thinking security methods to existing products. Office 2003 applications will therefore be more secure from the start, although company representatives are quick to point out that this release already benefits from years of customer feedback and the bug-reporting tools that debuted in the earlier version. Indeed, based on my own daily use, Office 2003 is a mature, stable, and reliable product.
Microsoft will update InfoPath, its XML forms package, so that information workers can route XML forms through email. For OneNote, the note-taking application that debuted in October, Microsoft is responding to customer feedback by providing a major update that will incorporate the features customers have most often requested. Although the company hasn't yet divulged those changes, they're likely to include better customization of the folder/section/page hierarchy the application uses to organize notes and better integration with Microsoft Office Outlook 2003.