Today, Microsoft unleashed its first major collection of Microsoft Office 2003 changes--Office 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1). Like most of the company's service packs, Office 2003 SP1 includes bug and security fixes that the company has discovered since it first released the product last fall. But Office 2003 SP1 also includes major functional changes to the Office suite's newest members, Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 and Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, which the company has essentially updated to major new versions.
  
"Thanks to our customer feedback and connection tools, we've made huge strides with the Microsoft Office System in continuing to improve product reliability through each successive release," Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of Microsoft Office, said. "At the launch in October, customers were already experiencing an increase in the average time between product errors by seven times over the first beta release. But we didn't stop there. With SP1, we've improved product reliability even further by taking action on the top issues affecting product performance."
  
The SP1 release updates InfoPath, an integrated Office application, with new tools that make creating new InfoPath-based solutions easier for developers. The product also includes improved support for digital signatures, email-based forms transmission, and Tablet PCs. Even more significantly enhanced is OneNote, which is a member of the Office System family of products but isn't included with any of the Office bundles; my experience with the beta version suggests that the company has essentially updated this product to version 2.0. OneNote includes almost too many improvements to list; I'll cover the changes in an upcoming review on the SuperSite for Windows.
  
Office 2003 SP1 includes several other changes. Microsoft Office Outlook 2003's junk mail controls now feature more intelligent filtering and easier, more automated modifications to users' Safe Senders lists. And a new Microsoft Office Access 2003 Conversion Toolkit helps customers convert their existing Access databases to the new Access database format. The download doesn't appear to be available as I write this but will be made available soon on the Microsoft Web site. 
  
One interesting note about Office 2003: Unlike many Microsoft products, Office hasn't suffered from interminable security flaws or other bugs. Microsoft credits the product's success to the online crash-reporting tool that the company has shipped with the past few Office releases. According to the company, this interactive tool has let Microsoft developers concentrate on the few problems that plague most users, dramatically improving the product's overall fit and finish. 
  
If you want to download Office 2003 SP1, visit the Office 2003 SP1 Web site . You can also download the product updates through the Microsoft Office Online Office Update site .