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First Office 2011 for Mac Update Fixes Crashers

Barely two weeks have passed since the formal release of Office for Mac 2011 from Microsoft and its first update is now out the door, bringing with it an assortment of “improvements to security, stability, compatibility, and performance.”

The security fixes address a vulnerability, rated Important by Microsoft, that allows remote code execution when a user previews or opens a specially crafted RTF email message in Outlook 2011. Microsoft’s security bulletin notes that a successful exploit of this vulnerability gives an attacker the same privileges as the Mac’s current user: those who run their Macs from an administrator account are the most vulnerable.

In addition to patching the vulnerability, the Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 14.0.1 Update applies fixes and improvements for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. It also provides form-based authentication for all Office applications when users connect to a SharePoint server, and fixes an issue that erroneously locked images copied to ChemDraw from any Office application.

Excel users who have experienced crashes when enabling a macro will be glad to hear that Microsoft claims to have fixed this problem; those who have seen Excel fail to update some calculated spreadsheet cells when related data has changed will also be happy to learn that affected cells now update properly. Word users who have seen crashes when using the Equation Tools will find this problem fixed as well. PowerPoint bug fixes include one that led to crashes during slide shows, and another that caused PowerPoint to display numbered lists incorrectly in presentations created in PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010.

The newest Office for Mac application, Outlook 2011, came in for its share of fixes. Aside from patching the previously mentioned security vulnerability, the update fixes a number of other Outlook issues. A flaw that caused only one email message to be deleted when multiple messages in an IMAP account were selected for deletion has been fixed; Sync Services Agent no longer requires users to quit it manually when installing a new update; passwords are no longer deleted from the keychain when Outlook imports new mail accounts; database rebuilds no longer delete mailing list rules; and when users import identities, Outlook no longer prematurely ends the import when it encounters an identity with a category called “Untitled.”

The free 110.5 MB update requires a Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later. It is available directly from Microsoft or can be obtained by running Microsoft AutoUpdate: in any Office 2011 application, choose Help > Check for Updates.

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