Office 2003 SP3 advisory a mistake – Microsoft

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Microsoft has now acknowledged that it had made a mistake over a “security advisory” it released with the latest service pack for its Office 2003 product. The advisory, which was released in December, said that certain older file types were blocked as they were deemed “insecure”.

It also provided a workaround for users who wanted to unblock the file types; but made it complicated, requiring users to make changes to the registry – which could have made computers inoperable if it was done incorrectly.

On Friday, Microsoft admitted that the information it had provided was wrong, and had underestimated how many users were affected. It now says that instead the file types being insecure, it is the parsing code that Office 2003 uses to open and save the file types that are less secure.

Speaking to last week; Reed Shaffner, the worldwide product manager for Microsoft Office, confirmed that the advisory provided was incorrect and the registry fix that it provided had been difficult to implement by users.

Microsoft has released four downloadable updates that would unblock the file types. One update was provided for each of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and CorelDraw file types. The new updates should prove to be much easier that the manual registry fix, which is still up on the updated advisory.

It has also provided four downloadable updates that would do the opposite of what was said above – reblock the file formats. “For IT administrators, we recommend that they use the (registry) fix that was there before. For end users, if they frequently use the older formats, this (the downloadable update) is the way,” Shaffner said to

He suggested that if you do not use the older file types frequently, then you should apply the new update.

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