Late last week, Microsoft pulled the Service Pack 2 update to Office for Mac 2011 from its upgrade servers after users complained that the update created problems with the Outlook email and calendar application. The move also coincided with reports that Office vulnerabilities could lead to additional malware infection risks.
Microsoft had released the update the previous week (April 12). After initial reports that users were getting an error messages related to Office 2011 database, the company posted advice for users to follow before attempting to install the update and a work around for some of the problems that users experienced. A few days lated Microsoft pulled the update completely.
At issue are two different Office components – the Office 2011 database and Office 2011 identities. The database itself could suffer issues installing SP2, which Microsoft acknowledged in its initial advice to rebuild the database before installing. The identity issue, which prevents Office from rebuilding its database after SP 2 is installed, relates to how Microsoft store information about Office for Mac users. The company offered a fairly involved work around for users who had installed SP 2 without first rebuilding the database.
Microsoft hasn’t said why it pulled the update – though it isn’t unheard of for tech companies, including Apple, to issue updates that fix one problem but create others and to then remove them from circulation in order to study and correct the problem.
The possibility of this occurring is a big reason that most IT departments don’t make updates and patches available to users immediately and instead opt for a “cooling off” period while they can ensure updates won’t cause problems for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of their users.
It’s worth noting that Outlook is the newest addition to Office for Mac, replacing the Entourage email client that had served since the release of OS X (Microsoft offered a free version of Outlook for Mac users in businesses running its Exchange server in the days of Mac OS 9 and earlier). It’s also worth mentioning that Apple’s Mail, Address Book, and iCal applications can access Exchange servers and can be used as an alternative to Outlook.