Office 2007 sp2 Group Policy ADM and ADMX files and OCT available

It’s been a while since Office 2007 service pack 2 came out, but now you can get the files you need to successfully administer this, using Group Policy to apply settings from the ADM or ADMX files, or using the Office Customisation Tool (OCT)..

This Technet page has more information including some important details about making sure to reset some of your policies before replacing the ADM files, as you won’t be able to edit them afterwards:

If you have previously configured any of the Group Policy settings affected by this update, you must set those policy settings to their Not Configured state before you remove the previous 2007 Office system ADM files and load the updated version 3 ADM files. This removes the registry key information for the policy setting from the registry. This is because if an .adm file is removed, the settings that correspond to the .adm file do not appear in Group Policy Object Editor; however, the policy settings that are configured from the .adm file remain in the Registry.pol file and continue to apply to the appropriate target client or user. This also applies to any policy settings that you had previously configured that are listed in “Removed settings” later in this article.

You can download the Administrative Templates and OCT in a self-extracting exe file. Included are ADM, ADMX and ADML files in various languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and a couple of flavours of Chinese).

Also has the OPA files and a settings reference, but this other page claims that this is the definitive version of the Office 2007 GP and settings file. I can’t tell the difference – they are the same size and have the same number of rows on the list pages, and have identical MD5 checksums, so they are the same file.

I suspect this was a newer version than the old version in the old download before the newer version superseded the old version so it is now the current version. Clear as mud?

Anyway, most of the focus of these is on fixing a few broken things and targeting settings relating to Open Document format files (making it the default for saving, or blocking it being used at all, that sort of thing.)

Happy policy making!

Microsoft Certified Application Specialist times five

MCAS logo I took five MCAS exams on Friday and passed them all. Some were easier than others, as always, but overall I found them a lot less stressful than when I took four on the same day to get the Microsoft Office Specialist:Master qualification.

Overall I like the way the Office exams work – the real application (minus the help!) running in the top half, and the questions at the bottom. Each question has a few tasks to complete, and you are measured on the end result, not how you got there.

This is a much better test of real-world ability to use the software than any multiple-choice questions can ever hope to be. Yes, it means that you could take a few wrong turns, and click on some irrelevant buttons before finding the thing you were looking for, but you can do that in real life too. The exam is limited to 50 minutes, so you can only afford to do this on a handful of questions, and you need to be able to make up the time on other questions by reading it once and going straight to the correct feature or function.

Read more of this post

Group Policy templates and references for Office 2007

It took a while but eventually Microsoft got round to providing the Group Policy administration templates for Office 2007 in ADMX format, so they can be used properly with the Group Policy management tools in Vista and Windows server 2008. By properly, I mean using a central store and having the option to use ADML files to view and edit policies in an administrator’s preferred local language. You can get the ADM, ADMX and ADML files for Office 2007 in a single download here which is a self-extracting file that creates a folder structure containing all the relevant files.

This also has the bonus of including the Office Customisation Tool (OCT) which you can use to create an MSP file to customise a centralised network installation of Office for new installations, upgrades, or reconfiguration. You can find out more about the methods for customising Office 2007 setup files here and specifics about the OCT here. In addition the download extracts an Excel workbook “Office2007GroupPolicyAndOCTSettings.xls” that provides information about the 2007 Office release Group Policy settings and OPA settings, making it clear what can be pre-customised at the point of installation and what can only be set through policies.

You will probably also find the Office 2007 settings reference file useful. This is a comprehensive reference for all the settings in the GUI for Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word 2007. This gives the equivalent UI path in 2003 (where there is one), the default setting, what choices can be made, what policy settings exist and which registry keys those change. A very helpful file for understanding how to customise the user experience, and deciding which parts to do through policies and which settings are better left to users (and perhaps prompting you to educate them about the usefulness of some of these).

Excel 2007 calculation bug displays apparently wrong numbers

A bug has been found in Excel 2007 and Excel services 2007 which appears to calculate certain results incorrectly. In fact, the stored value of the result is correct, and other calculations based on that result will calculate correctly. The only error is in the display of the number, not the internal calculation. This is, of course, still a problem for anyone who is reading the values on screen or on a printout, or exporting them to other programs (see further down in this post).

According to the article on the Excel team blog about this bug:

The first example that we heard about was =77.1*850, but it became clear from our testing as well as additional reports that this was just one instance where Excel 2007 would return a value of 100,000 instead of 65,535.  The majority of these additional reports were focused on multiplication (ex. =5.1*12850; =10.2*6425; =20.4*3212.5 ), but our testing showed that this really didn’t have anything do to with multiplication – it manifested itself with many but not all calculations in Excel that should have resulted in 65,535 (=65535*1 and =16383.75*4 worked for instance).  Further testing showed a similar phenomenon with 65,536 as well.  This issue only exists in Excel 2007, not previous versions.

Said another way, =850*77.1 will display an incorrect value, but if you then multiply the result by 2, you will get the correct answer (i.e. if A1 contains “=850*77.1”, and A2 contains “=A1*2”, A2 will return the correct answer of 131,070).

So, it is important to note that most calculations which result in numbers near to or equal to 65,535 and 65,536 will be absolutely fine. It is only through some very specific oddities about how floating point numbers work that you will get one of the 12 situations where this bug occurs. If it does, you will have cells that read “100,000” rather than the correct answer. Anything else in Excel which you base on those cells will be correct.

You can add to them, multiply by them, show conditional formats such as colour scales or icon sets, even draw charts with those values and Excel will correctly handle the real, underlying value and not the displayed one. Macros or external programmatic methods of retrieving the cell’s contents also return the true stored value.

»Read the rest of the post to find out how this bug will bite you»