A week after shipping a series of high profile release candidate versions of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), Windows Vista SP1, and Windows Server 2008, Microsoft this week shipped Office 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1), the first major update to its latest office productivity suite. Office 2007 SP1 shipped about a month earlier than originally scheduled, but the biggest question about this release is how Microsoft kept details of SP1 so quiet for so long.

"SP1 provides stability and performance improvements across the 2007 Office system, keying in on customers' leading productivity concerns, and beefs up security precautions to stay ahead of the latest threats from malicious software and other risks," Microsoft Office product manager Reed Shaffner said. "We're optimistic that with the shipment of SP1 we're removing any residual barriers that may have impeded deployment and that adoption will only accelerate."

In keeping with a recent strategy shift at Microsoft, Office 2007 includes only bug fixes and no major new features. The company says the update includes "significant stability, performance and security improvements," targeting the issues that customers told Microsoft were most important to fix. Microsoft says that SP1 includes all of previously-released Office 2007 hot-fixes as well as some unique new fixes. The server-oriented Office 2007 products have been made Windows Server 2008 compatible as well, the company notes.

Office 2007 SP1 is available via a standalone download from the Microsoft Web site. The company will roll out this release via Windows Update and Automatic Updates in the coming weeks.