Microsoft fixes Excel math mistake

Re-issues last week's buggy patch to fix Excel 2003, again

Microsoft Corp. re-released a flawed security update today that had caused some versions of Excel, the company's spreadsheet application, to make mistakes.

The update, dubbed MS08-014, was first released about a week ago. But within a couple of days, Microsoft acknowledged that it was causing Excel 2003 in Office 2003 SP2 and SP3 to "return an incorrect result when a Real Time Data source is used," as a company spokesman said at the time.

Real Time Data, which debuted in an earlier version of Excel, lets users automatically pull data into a spreadsheet from a variety of sources, including Web sites.

Today, Tim Rains, another Microsoft spokesman, said that MS08-014 had been re-released. "If you are running Microsoft Excel 2003 Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3, you should use the guidance provided in Knowledge Base article KB950340 to deploy the new update," he said in an alert posted to the blog of the Microsoft Security Response Center.

The support document Rains referenced said that the re-release would be pushed out via Windows Update. "Automatic Updates will correctly offer this update to users of Excel 2003 SP2 and Excel SP3, whether or not they have applied the original version of security update MS08-014," read the document.

The day Microsoft issued the buggy Excel patch, it rolled out three other security bulletins that patched a dozen vulnerabilities, all in Office. MS08-014 actually was an umbrella update that included fixes for seven critical Excel flaws, but Microsoft never specified which of those led to problems with Excel 2003's calculations of Real Time Data.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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