Microsoft Patches Office, Commits to VBA Support

Microsoft has been busy today, releasing security updates, announcing a new service pack and committing to restoring functionality to their Mac office suite.

Yep, It’s Patch Tuesday Again

Microsoft released security bulletin MS08-014 today that contains a patch to a remote code execution vulnerability effecting Microsoft Office 2004 & 2008 for Macintosh. Office 2004 is bumped up to version 11.4.1 and primarily contains security & stability fixes. Office 2008 bumps up to version 12.1.0 and includes security fixes along with a plethora of other improvements. Both updates are available via Office software update or via direct download from the aforementioned links.

Get Your Red Hot Office 2008 SP1!

Microsoft MacBU announced the availability of Office 2008 SP1 today in conjunction with the security patch. The 180MB download contains over 1,000 fixes including – what apparently was a major annoyance – the return of custom error bars and axis tick manipulation in Excel charts.

The full release notes are available for your perusal. Here are some other SP1 highlights:

Microsoft Office Excel

  • Compatibility. Improved compatibility with files exchanged between Excel 2008 for Mac and Excel 2003 and Excel 2007 for Windows
  • Custom Error Bars. Restored formatting option on the Error Bars panel for data series
  • Printing. More reliable printing for elements on Excel 2008 workbooks

Microsoft Entourage

  • Calendar. Significant enhancements to improve calendar view and all-day reminders with reoccurrence
  • Exchange Server support. Overall improvement to synchronization support, including removing attachments from Exchange Server messages and synchronizing to the server, as well as support for editing the contents of Exchange Server messages via AppleScript and synchronizing the changes to the server
  • E-mail images. Ability to send and view images in Entourage from third-party tools

Microsoft Office Word

  • Printing. Improved accuracy when orienting tables with cell shading
  • Document map. Improved reliability and responsiveness to select items
  • Notebook layout. Updated formatting, recording status and a variety of display options

Microsoft Office PowerPoint

  • Printing. Improvements to eliminate crashing when printing documents to high-dpi printers and increased overall printing speed by 10 times on some large presentations
  • Mobile viewing. Ability to view Mac .PPTX files on Windows Mobile phones
  • AppleScript. Ability to use the PowerPoint selection object in AppleScript to implement custom scripts that operate on the current selection in PowerPoint

Restoring Functionality (& Vulnerabilities)

Microsoft’s MacBU also announced (official press release) the return of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) support to the next major release of Office for Mac. This is a mixed bag since VBA macros are a juicy vector for vulnerabilities but that same functionality is critical to many business processes that have been developed using the suite.

From the announcement:

Sharing information with customers as early as possible continues to be a priority for the Mac BU to allow customers to plan for their software needs.2 Although the Mac BU increased support in Office 2008 with alternate scripting tools such as Automator and AppleScript — and also worked with MacTech Magazine to create a reference guide, available at — the team recognizes that VBA-language support is important to a select group of customers who rely on sharing macros across platforms. The Mac BU is always working to meet customers’ needs and already is hard at work on the next version of Office for Mac.

When you install the security update or try out SP1, drop a note in the comments with your experiences and definitely let us and the MacBU know if they didn’t fix any of the issues you were having pre-SP1. Also, if you have any thoughts on the revival of VBA for Mac Office make sure to let us know in the comments as well.

(post updated to fix version errors & links)