Microsoft expects last week's Office XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) release to usher in a new era of corporate adoptions of the product because many organizations wait for the first consolidated update package before upgrading. In this case, that expectation is probably warranted. In addition to focusing on the three general areas of security, stability, and performance, Office XP SP1 includes several Windows XP-specific performance improvements that let the two systems work more efficiently together. I spoke with Office XP Product Manager Nicole von Kaenel about the changes in SP1.
"We see SP1 as a really strong catalyst to drive the enterprise to Office XP," said von Kaenel. "People have been waiting for the first service pack." SP1 integrates all the previously available security updates into a single package, von Kaenel said, which gives end users and administrators a simpler, all-in-one installation.
I was particularly interested in Microsoft's use of its error-feedback tool, which the company first implemented in Office XP. According to von Kaenel, this tool was crucial in determining which stability fixes to include in the service pack. "Every time a customer has a huge problem, the Office XP error-reporting tool helps us prioritize widespread issues; it's not scattershot. We get a lot of reports, both from within Microsoft and from outside customers, who are using the tool and reporting back to us. It's a great source of data, and we used it to develop SP1."
Office XP performance is significantly enhanced with SP1, especially for Windows XP users. SP1 improves the performance of MSN Messenger and Outlook integration, email with attachments, and other scenarios. It also includes the ability to move SharePoint Team Services sites from one server to another, either internally or on the Web, using a simple Wizard interface.
"SP1 is a great opportunity to integrate Windows XP and Office XP," von Kaenel said. "In May, when Office XP launched, Windows XP wasn't fully developed, and there were a lot of speed improvements we wanted to include. Those are now available in SP1."
Office XP SP1 is now available in 17MB client and 40MB administrative update versions. English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, and Thai language versions are available now; other languages will be available shortly. For more information about Office XP SP1, see my original story about the release.