Just weeks after the ballyhooed launch of the next generation Microsoft Office software suite, the software giant issued a 'critical' update to fix problems in the Powerpoint, Word and Excel products.
The problems were discovered in Microsoft Office 2003, which was released on October 21 as the biggest upgrade for the personal productivity desktop software in the company's history. In an advisory, Microsoft said the errors occur when a user tries to open or save files that includes an OfficeArt shape that was previously modified or saved in an earlier version of Microsoft Office.
The issue specifically affects files in PowerPoint 2003, Word 2003 and Excel 2003. "When [a] file is opened in an earlier version of Office, empty "complex" properties may be introduced into the file and a bit may be changed in the file record that describes these properties. Earlier version of Office will ignore this bit value but when this bit value is detected in Office 2003," Microsoft warned.
The errors mean that documents may not open completely or may be corrupted. In some cases, the documents may open but with missing content.
At press time, Microsoft officials could not be reached for comment. There is no word on whether the 'critical' patch will be shipped with all new sales of the Office 2003 suite going forward.
The new and rebranded Microsoft Office 2003, which is version No. 11, includes six suites, 11 products, four servers, Solution Accelerators as well as accompanying services. The six editions are Student and Teacher Edition, Basic Edition, Standard Edition, Small Business Edition, Professional Edition and the Professional Enterprise Edition.
All editions are affected by the problems fixed with the latest patch.