Office XP Service Pack 3 problems bite users

By Brian Livingston

Microsoft released its latest mass beta test on an unsuspecting populace when it started downloading into end users’ computers on Mar. 9 its new Service Pack 3 for Windows XP.

The update package — which at least has a poetic name — has caused grumbling by PC professionals who refer to it using some less-than-flowery language.

“The Pack was not widely circulated around the developer community before release,” says Woody’s Office Watch, an e-mail newsletter that focuses on Microsoft Office tips and tricks. Referring to reports of widespread incompatibilities between SP3 and other companies’ software (and some of Microsoft’s own software), the publication added, “This is something that Microsoft could have avoided if it had wished to, but presumably either didn’t know nor care about the consequences for customers.”

In this issue of Brian’s Buzz, I report on these problems and bring you some fixes and workarounds to mitigate the pain. I do not recommend that you install Office XP SP3 unless you examine the issues described below and carefully test the service pack on a noncritical machine that’s running your particular suite of applications.

SP3 doesn’t install if SP1 or SP2 are installed
With all of SP3’s problems, it’s ironic that one of the most common complaints is that people can’t get the dang thing to install at all. The noninstallation is iritating but saves the users from having to deal with the incompatibilities that would have resulted!

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2004-03-25: