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  1. #1
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    2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    OK, just got a call from a second user nonplussed about inability to open older Word and Excel formats after installing 03 SP3. A quick scan of the NNTP groups reveals that this is apparently INTENTIONAL (security??). Some answer seem evasive to me; MVPs I respect are emitting such bunf as, "Can you open it in a 2002 version and resave? Are you a single user on a single computer?"

    Geez.

    I'm not asking anyone to violate NDA or commit his first-born, but could *anyone* tell me what's going on, and what Microsoft's intent was? Answers pertaining to the level of testing of this service pack are unnecessary (g).

    (Sorry to have semi-vented, and thanks for anything you can offer.)

    -Frank

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    MSKB article Information about certain file formats that are blocked after you install Office 2003 Service Pack 3 describes how you can make the blocked file formats accessible again by editing the registry. You could create a .reg file with the desired changes and distribute that to your users.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    Here's my thought on the philosophy behind this.

    Microsoft built Office on the assumption that its binary document files, and others that it converts, would conform to its expectations. In recent years, security researchers and miscreants have discovered numerous serious vulnerabilities that can be exploited by undermining this assumption. As a result of this fierce barrage, Microsoft has changed its strategy. It now is moving to reduce risk by transitioning to XML formats. Nevertheless, recognizing that its hugely successful binary formats will be around for years to come, it has sought to limit the burden of patching the applications by simply not opening certain files. Thus, exploits that attack an application or converter based on those formats could be disregarded (at least for Office 2003) and patching efforts focused on current formats.

    Initially, this functionality was optional for Office 2003. In May, Microsoft published Microsoft Security Advisory 937696, explaining the File Block feature. Microsoft may have assumed that four months was long enough to debug this feature and to roll it out as part of an official SP. Might this have been overly optimistic? In any event, Microsoft has provided a workarounds for disabling the File Block (via registry edit, recommended to be temporary only), so although the documentation on how to do that is rather vague, at least it is possible (it is useful to download the updated Office 2003 Resource Kit, extract the files, and view word11.adm in a text editor to see the options for the "block earlier versions" feature).

  4. #4
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    Thanks, all. That regfile might be a nice project for some MVP who doesn't mind friendly fire.

    Shameful registry ignorance dept.: What happens when a 5.00 .reg file is run on a regedit 4 machine (Win98, etc.)? If SP3 has NOT been applied, does a null entry get added to the registry, or is it a no-op?

    (Why don't I know the above, I've been reg-patching for years?)

  5. #5
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    I think a version 5 .reg file will not install on a Win9x machine.
    If Office 2003 SP3 hasn't been installed, the .reg file will add entries to the registry, but they will presumably do nothing because Office 2003 SP2 doesn't "see" them.

  6. #6
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    You can modify the registry entries manually using RegEdit, then use File | Export to create the .reg file.

  7. #7
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    If you're going to apply the REG file via a BATch file, it's quite easy to determine what Windows operating system you're running, and bypass installing the REG file if that PC is running Windows 98. Or, alternatively, apply it if you're running Windows XP!

    Here's some post-Windows 98 code (by which I mean that unless changed it will fail horribly on anything below NT4!): <pre>:: test the message given by VER:
    :: for NT4: Windows NT Version 4.0
    :: for W2K: Microsoft Windows 2000 [5.00.2195]
    :: for WXP: Microsoft Windows XP [5.1.2600]
    echo %~n0: By testing the results from VER ...
    for /f "tokens=2-3" %%a in ('ver') do (
    if "%%a"=="NT" (set ostype=%%a) else (set ostype=%%[img]/forums/images/smilies/cool.gif[/img]
    )
    echo %ostype%</pre>

    If you would like something crafted for your particular circumstance, please say!
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

  8. #8
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    I have read the KB article and am mystified. It lists Word 11 as one of the blocked file formats. Isn't Word 11 Word 2003? How can it block its own format?
    Is there another kb article that describes the file formats in simpler, not registry tweaking, language?
    I have just installed my legal copy of original Office 2003 on my new Vista PC. After reading Office Watch #12.24 from Sept. 24, which says don't install SP3 just yet, I wanted to install SP2, but I don't think Office Update will let me. Can I manually download SP2? Will I then be able to get all the post-SP2 updates up to SP3?

  9. #9
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    The first part of the MSKB article lists the file types/versions blocked in Office 2003 SP3. Word 11 aka 2003 is not among them.

    The second part provides information for administrators on how to block other files types/versions. This lists Word 11 as a possibility, probably with Word 12 (aka 2007) in mind.

  10. #10
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    Thanks for the clarification. Are there any other warnings I should heed before installing SP3?

  11. #11
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    Re: 2003 SP3 Philosophy (Office 03)

    There are some issues with Access 2003 SP3 - see the threads starting at <post:=681,278>post 681,278</post:> and <post:=674,168>post 674,168</post:>.

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