Microsoft Spruces Up Office 2003

As if to remind users just what its best-selling suite of desktop productivity applications is, Microsoft yesterday made available for download service pack 3 for Office 2003.

While Microsoft is spending a lot of time and money this year pushing Office 2007, it's the 4-year-old Office 2003 that pays a lot of the company's bills. And given some of the early feedback from Office 2007 users, it may continue to do so for quite some time. Many users have complained that Office 2007's new ribbon interface, intended to make the desktop suite easier to use, is actually making it more difficult to use. Some have also complained about its lack of performance on older systems. This wouldn't be the first time Microsoft made something harder to use by trying to make it easier to use.

Some of the enhancements in SP3 include improved security; updates to make it work more efficiently with Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Internet Explorer 7; and new capabilities that exploit Windows SharePoint Services.

As we reported in yesterday's Redmond Report, Office 2003 did get a little unexpected competition from IBM as Big Blue launched Lotus Symphony, a suite of free desktop applications. The suite, now available for download as a beta from IBM's Web site, includes a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs.

It will be interesting to see what impact Symphony (a name IBM is recycling from 1984, when Lotus launched the first Symphony suite made up of five integrated desktop applications) will have, but Office 2007 still figures to be the only major rival to Office 2003 for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Ed Scannell on September 20, 2007


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