From “Office Watch“: There’s a big question mark over the third service pack for Office 2003 – should you install it or not? Microsoft has chosen to make that decision a difficult one for all Office 2003 users.
There’s nothing wrong with Office 2003 Service Pack 3 but you need to be very aware of the limitations imposed on SP3 users. They aren’t immediate or obvious but might strike you in the future.
SP3 is full of blatant Microsoft cost-cutting measures. Instead of making Office 2003 more secure and fully functional the company chose to block existing Office 2003 features that would have been too expensive for them to fix. It’s cheaper for Microsoft to disable a feature instead of making it work properly.
Microsoft had a pile of security problems with Office 2003, the corporate answer is to disable features with security risks instead of fixing them.
So before you rush off to install SP3 you need to be aware of the changes it brings. Most of them might be considered minor but they might cause a problem if you’re not aware.
Microsoft is deploying SP3 automatically via the Microsoft Update service so you might be in for an unwanted ‘surprise’ when using Office 2003.
The online documentation on these changes isn’t clear. The main description of the reduced functionality in Service Pack 3 is buried deep in a long Knowledge Base article . Even then the descriptions are deliberately obscure. For example “You receive an error message when you try to open a file or to save a file after you install Office 2003 Service Pack 3” doesn’t tell you which file types are affected and nor does the KB article with that title. You have to hunt around for yet another article that finally lists which file types are affected.
Click here to read the entire article. It goes into detail on what Microsoft does with Service Pack 3. Also, don’t confuse this Service Pack 3 with Windows XP Service Pack 3, which I also don’t recommend installing.