While an exact release date has yet to be given, the Microsoft Office Sustained Engineering Team is projecting a release of the latest service pack for the Microsoft Office suite sometime in either the late first quarter or early second quarter of 2009.
With a possible release date of nearly 6 months away, why announce a service pack so early? A desire to “increase transparency and visibility into the Office servicing model” is the official reason and it falls in line with the concept behind the Engineering Windows 7 official blog. It looks like Microsoft is finally learning that there’s plenty of feedback to gather from a world full of eager testers/customers.
So, what’s expected with this service pack release? In addition to a focus on interoperability, including enhanced support for ODF, XPS and PDF, you can also expect to see:
- Outlook performance and reliability enhancements
- improved Excel charting functionality
- the ability to add animation to SmartArt graphics in PowerPoint
- “a tool that enables the uninstall of Office client service packs”
Not exactly everything you were hoping for/dreaming of? The post goes on to state that individual product teams (think Excel, Outlook, OneNote, etc.) will soon be announcing more specific enhancements that you’ll be seeing with the release of SP2.
In addition, a private beta test of the service pack will be released to selected individuals in the coming week.