A few weeks ago, the PR person at Edelman who works with Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit contacted me to let me know that there would be an automatic update to the Microsoft AutoUpdate utility, a new part of Office 2004. Trying to figure out if this warranted coverage, I asked, "So you're telling me that AutoUpdate is going to kick in automatically to update itself to better kick in automatically?" The answer was yes, and I decided it fit into the same news category as a tree falling in an uninhabited forest.
But now you really do want that 927K update to Microsoft AutoUpdate (which you can find and launch manually in your Applications folder if you turned off the Microsoft AU Daemon in your Startup Items list), because the utility now has some real work to do in downloading and installing Microsoft's 22.8 MB Service Pack 1 for Office 2004, which fixes numerous security and stability issues in the Office suite of programs.
Most important from my perspective is that Microsoft stamped out the maddening selection bug in Word 2004, by which selecting by word would often also select the word preceding the selection. This fix alone makes Service Pack 1 essential in my mind. Other Word improvements include the proper functioning of AutoRecover when FileVault is enabled (note that we do not recommend the use of FileVault except in very specific situations), text correctly changing to the font selected from the Font menu, and correct detection of Swiss German proofing tools. For additional help with Word 2004's new features, see our just-released "Take Control of What's New in Word" ebooks.
In Service Pack 1, PowerPoint 2004 sees improved performance when you play movies in a slide show, better compatibility with fonts, and corrected dragging of objects when the ruler is turned on. The only change to Excel is also shared by Word and PowerPoint: improved security when you open a document containing macros.
Entourage 2004 also picks up a number of fixes. The Entourage icon no longer bounces in the Dock when a connection error occurs, sent messages display the sent status in the Microsoft Outlook Info Bar, modem usage has been improved, SMTP over SSL has been improved, attaching photos from iPhoto now works better, the Microsoft User Data folder can now live on a network volume, Entourage no longer eats certain keyboard shortcuts for Adobe's CS products, and connections both to normal POP servers and Domino IMAP servers now work better. If you need assistance learning to use Entourage 2004's new features, check out our "Take Control of What's New in Entourage 2004" ebook.
Lastly, the Remote Desktop Connection client 1.0.3 is more stable when you minimize the window and when you copy and paste data to Macintosh applications. Other stability improvements should help those using Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and those running on Macs with PowerPC G5 processors.