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October 24, 2002—In this issue:
- Managing USB 2.0 Devices
2. NEWS & VIEWS
- Microsoft Standardizes Support Lifecycle
- Subscribe to Windows & .NET Magazine and Receive an eBook Gift!
- Get Connected with Connected Home
- Tip: Assigning Ownership of Network Files
- Featured Thread: Controlling a Wave File
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Get the Junk Off Your Hard Disk
- Create 3D Buttons for Software Applications and Web Page Design
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(David Chernicoff, News Editor, [email protected])
In a recent column, I pointed out that many of you might already have computers capable of USB 2.0 support (the hardware has been available for some time). If you have such hardware and you've installed the Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) upgrade, your computer has ports identified as USB 2.0.
I've received email from readers who tell me that Device Manager gives them weird information about their USB 2.0 ports. Basically, these readers see one USB 2.0 port with machines that actually have several such ports; the machine shows all the other ports as standard USB. To find out what was going on, I set up a USB 2.0-capable computer.
To have as generic an installation as possible, I started with an Intel P4 white-box system with four USB 2.0 ports on the back panel and an internal connector that would let me configure two more USB 2.0 ports on the front of the computer if I needed them. My plan was to start by adding two USB 2.0 devices: a Belkin Hi-speed four-port USB 2.0 hub (see first URL below) and one of Belkin's USB 2.0 drive enclosures equipped with a 120GB Western Digital Caviar hard disk (see second URL below). I wanted to use USB 2.0's 480MB bus speed to see whether connecting a mass-storage device to the USB port was practical If it proved realistic, I planned to add a DVD-RW drive to the chain later to use as a backup device.
After installing XP with SP1, I brought up Device Manager. Sure enough, Device Manager reported only one USB 2.0 Enhanced Host Controller and three standard USB Universal Host Controllers. When I checked the drivers associated with the controllers, only the first USB port appeared to have the USB 2.0 driver. I then tried to upgrade the software on the other controllers, but without success—the Driver update wizard reported that the controllers had the most current driver.
My next step was to call Microsoft Technical Support. The support team had never before seen the problem with USB 2.0 port identification, but a customer service rep got back to me within 24 hours with the solution to the problem—or, as it turned out, the non-problem. The problem wasn't caused by the availability of USB 2.0 ports, but by the way that Intel has designed the USB controller. Basically, my computer has one USB 2.0 controller and three (or five, if you enable all the ports) USB companion controllers that report themselves as USB 1.1 devices. If you plug a USB 2.0 device into any port, the device functions at USB 2.0 speeds; the controller handles the logic internally. USB controllers from different vendors might not report ports in the same way and might not indicate that all the ports are USB 2.0 capable, but each should have the same functionality.
I've already filled six of the seven ports with a USB hard disk, digital camera, MP3 player, Compact Flash reader, USB Bluetooth transceiver, and the USB connection to my satellite Internet connection. I use the seventh port occasionally for a USB flash memory card I use to transfer files—my digital video camera uses an IEEE 1394 (aka FireWire) connection. I'll probably add a second four-port hub to free up additional USB connections so that I can attach a DVD-RW backup device in the future. So far, I've been able to determine that I can use a data-only drive connected at USB 2.0 speeds without any problem.
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
In a bid to give customers a clearer understanding of product support, Microsoft announced last week that it's giving all its products a consistent and predictable support roadmap. Originally, the company published a set of support guidelines for Windows products only but developed the more comprehensive set of support policies after receiving customer feedback. Under the new plan, business and development software and most consumer, multimedia, and hardware products will receive support for at least 5 years from the date of the product's general availability. Consumer products that release a new version each year—such as Microsoft Money or Microsoft Encarta—now include at least 3 years of support. And most Microsoft products now include at least 8 years of online self-support.
"In responding to what we heard from customers, Microsoft worked closely with customers, business and industry partners, leading analysts, and research firms to determine what a clear and consistent support lifecycle policy would look like," said Lori Moore, corporate vice president for Microsoft Product Support Services. "The policy takes effect \[October 15\] and applies to most products currently available via retail purchase or volume licensing and future release products."
In addition to so-called mainstream support—all the support options and programs that customers receive today, including no-charge incident support, paid incident support, and warranty claim support—Microsoft is also offering extended support options for corporate customers. After a product's general availability (from 5 to 7 years, depending on the product), customers can pay for extended incident support and advisory services. And online self-support, including Windows Update, will be available for at least 1 year after the extended support period ends.
Under the new terms, Microsoft will declare "End of Life" for Windows NT 3.5x, Windows 3.x, Windows 95, and all MS-DOS versions on December 31, 2002, which means that those products will no longer be eligible for any form of support, not even online self-help. These changes are effective worldwide, the company says, except where local laws and market conditions dictate otherwise.
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If you haven't seen Connected Home Online lately, you're missing the definitive resource to help you tackle home automation, install a home network, set up a home theater, and much more. Visit today, and while you're there, check out this article about installing a 100Mbps home network at http://www.connectedhomemag.com/networking/articles/index.cfm?articleid=24765. Check it out!
(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])
I got email last week from a user who asked why some of the files on his network showed that the Administrator account, rather than the Administrator group, owned the files. The expected behavior is for the Administrator group to own the rights rather than the Administrator account. Apparently, incorrect file ownership was causing some problems with an application that expects ownership rights to the files that it controls. A Windows XP bug sometimes causes the OS to assign ownership rights incorrectly. To force files to be assigned to the Administrator group, follow these steps:
- Launch regedit.
- Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa registry subkey.
- Add a REG_DWORD value named NoDefaultAdminOwner and set its value to 0.
A reader wants to know if he can stop a looped Wave file by pressing one or more keyboard keys. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Judy Drennen, [email protected])
Optimus Software released Trash it! 1.61, an uninstaller and system cleaner for Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, and Windows 9x. Trash it! monitors setup programs while they are running, tracks each file installed and system change made (including changes in your registry), and lets you completely uninstall a program later on. Trash it! deletes all files that a program installs, removes all subdirectories the program creates, and deletes all changes the program makes in your system files. Trash it! costs $24.50 for a single-user license. Contact Optimus at 781-255-7780 or [email protected] for more information.
MultiMedia Soft announced 3D Button Suite 2002, a suite of three Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Me, and Windows 9x products that can create a wide range of 3D buttons for use in software-application development and Web-page design. The suite is composed of 3D Active Button Magic (an ActiveX control), 3D Button API, and 3D Button Visual Editor (a WYSIWYG graphical application for creating 3D button pictures). 3D Button Suite 2002 costs $259. Contact MultiMedia Soft at [email protected] for more information.
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