Microsoft sets Office 2007 SP2 release for April 28

Also debuts first free Office for Mac 2008 trial download

Microsoft Corp. has set April 28 as the release date for Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2), the first update to the company's popular application suite since December 2007.

Last week, the company said that it would begin pushing Office 2007 SP2 as an upgrade via Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) this month, but until yesterday had not slated an exact date.

Office 2007 SP2 adds support for Open Document Format (ODF) Version 1.1 to Word, Excel and PowerPoint; boosts the performance of the Outlook 2007 e-mail client; debuts the ability to uninstall service packs using a separately utility and the Windows command line; and integrates the "Save As PDF/XPS" command into the suite's applications.

The inclusion of ODF and PDF format support fulfills a promise Microsoft made nearly a year ago, when it said it would let users open, save and edit files in PDFs and the open-source ODF no later than mid-2009. European Union antitrust regulators, who launched a probe in January 2008 to investigate claims Microsoft had abused its market-dominant position in the application suite business, said they "would welcome any step that Microsoft took toward genuine interoperability and less vendor lock-in."

The Microsoft Update blog outlined numerous other enhancements, ranging from performance increases in Outlook's start-up, shut down and view rendering to the long-awaited ability to export Access reports in Excel format. Like all service packs, SP2 also includes all bug fixes and security patches released since Microsoft rolled out SP1 in late 2007.

Also to debut April 28, said Microsoft, are a spreadsheet that lists all the individual bugs fixed in Office and revamped documentation for SP2 that the company called "more user-friendly and informative."

In other Office-related news Tuesday, Microsoft's Macintosh team unveiled a free 30-day trial for Office 2008 for Mac. The trial, which is equivalent to the standard edition that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage and support for Microsoft's Exchange Server, can be downloaded from the company's site.

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