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Microsoft Office 2008 12.1.3 and 2004 11.5.2 Updates

The recently released Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.3 Update tackles a major security risk, improves Office stability within Leopard, and makes some small performance enhancements. Once again, kudos to Microsoft for excellent release notes, and it’s great to see the company continuing to provide bug fixes for Office 2004, which still has many users.

The security risk pertains to important vulnerabilities in Excel that could enable an attacker to take control of a user’s machine. If a user were to open a specially crafted file, the attacker could remotely execute code to take complete control of the user’s system. Full notes concerning this risk are available via Microsoft’s Security Bulletin.

Additional general Office 2008 changes include a fix for a bug that could cause any Office application to crash, improved stability when working with documents that contain PDFs, enhanced performance for chart and picture display, and a bug fix for a problem encountered when opening documents containing PDFs in a Windows Office application.

In PowerPoint 2008, stability within Leopard has been improved, fixing a problem wherein PowerPoint would crash upon attempting to open a presentation. Also, a bug causing images imported from other applications to appear as URLs has been fixed. Finally, a minor issue with PowerPoint .ppt documents being issued incorrect time stamps when being saved has also been resolved.

In Excel 2008, calculation reliability has been improved, chart creation is faster, issues relating to Pivot Tables have been fixed, and Open/Save bugs have been repaired. This last change is a major one as Excel was having trouble opening particular file types, and complaining about insufficient memory when attempting to save.

Word 2008 sees fewer changes. Compatibility with Endnote has been enhanced, a small issue with the display of charts and pictures has been corrected, and a German language auto-correct bug was fixed.

Entourage 2008 also receives only minor fixes. Issues with calendar duplications have been resolved, time zones have been updated, and problems with establishing secure connections to machines running Exchange Server 2007 have been fixed.

The Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.3 Update requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later, and that you have already installed the Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.2 Update on the computer before you install the current one. It’s a 154.4 MB download and is available from Microsoft’s Web site or via the Microsoft AutoUpdate utility launched by choosing Check for Updates from any Office 2008 application.

The same security risk addressed by the Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.3 Update is also dealt with by the Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.5.2 Update. Additionally, this small update fixes two bugs in Excel 2004.

While the 11.5.2 update mainly focuses on the aforementioned security risk, Excel does receive some important tweaks. The most important fix addresses data loss that had been occurring upon attempting to save .xls files to a network volume after enabling the Always Create Backup option. Another issue that had caused the SUMIF function to generate inaccurate results has also been resolved. Aside from these two changes and the security patch, no other Office 2004 programs are individually addressed in this update.

The Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.5.2 Update requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later, and that you’ve previously installed the Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.5.1 Update. It’s a 13.3 MB download, and is available either via the Office 2004 version of Microsoft AutoUpdate or as a standalone download.

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