Microsoft Corporation is finally set to release its first major service release for Office 2000, Office 2000 SR-1, next week. As previously reported, Microsoft recently delayed the release of SR-1 from February to mid-March, it is now expected to publicly debut on Tuesday, March 21, though that date could change if any last minute problems arise.

Beta testers were given a preliminary "release candidate" build, RC1, about two weeks ago, but subsequent releases were kept in-house for some reason. SR-1 will be released as a free download, in a CD version, and will be integrated into forthcoming retail and OEM versions of Office 2000.

SR-1 combines a number of new updates with the collection of previously available fixes into a single, easy-to-manage and deploy package that weighs in at over 100 MB, according to testers. Each of the major Office applications--Word, Excel, Outlook, FrontPage, Access, PowerPoint, Publisher, and PhotoDraw--have been updated along with the addition of a number of security fixes. And with SR-1, Office 2000 will integrate more easily with the system components in Windows 2000. Office 2000 SR-1 also includes a newer version of Internet Explorer, version 5.01