"Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 3 is the culmination of several years of improvements in the product suite," the company said in a Microsoft white paper issued upon the service pack's release. "SP3 improves the productivity and user experience of home and office users, strengthens defenses against malicious software, and helps IT administrators comply with regulations and protect confidential information."
Security is clearly job number one for Office 2003 SP3, as the service pack contains a laundry list of security patches and upgrades. For example, instead of letting in macros willy-nilly in Excel, SP3 instead lets users control which macros run in legacy Excel files, potentially blocking malicious code. Of course, as is the case in most service packs, SP3 also patches known security holes.
Microsoft has also worked to improve Office 2003's compatibility with Windows Vista, Internet Explorer 7, and Office 2007. Project 2003, for example, can now read Project 2007 files. InfoPath allows auto-complete in Internet Explorer 7 when running on Windows Vista. OneNote 2003 works better with Internet Explorer 7 than it did previously.
Microsoft Office 2003 SP3 Released
After downloading 3 updates (e.g., Office Pro, Visio, Project) related to the SP3 release, I installed this in a "standalone mode" to avoid any potential conflicts as Office updates are complex and can touch other environments (e.g., IE, Snag-it, and other apps can be setup to have integration with Office).
So far, everything appears to work well for all 3 major environments, after some quick testing. The Office Pro update is lengthy (about 10 min, including Front Page). However, the other two updates are quick and require about a minute each. Ten minutes of patience in applying these updates standalone can replace hours worth of fixing later