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September 12, 2002—In this issue:
- Who's in Control When You Use WMP 9?
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Solves Windows Hacking Mystery
- Submit Top Product Ideas
- Mark Minasi and Paul Thurrott Are Bringing Their Security Expertise to You!
- UNIX, Linux, and Windows: Managing the Unruly Trinity
4. READER CHALLENGE
- August 2002 Reader Challenge Winners
- September 2002 Reader Challenge
- Tip: Connecting Windows XP to Win2K Terminal Server
- Featured Thread: Automatically Creating "On-disk" Media Catalog During Unattended Win2K Backup
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Save Time with Hot Keys
- Uninstall Programs in Windows
7. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(David Chernicoff, News Editor, [email protected])
With the beta release of Windows Media Player (WMP) 9, Microsoft has finally merged the WMP offerings for all its current OSs back into one product. Before this release, Windows XP users got the features and benefits of WMP 8, while other Microsoft OSs were at WMP 7.1, with many people still using WMP 6.4 (XP users had no option to use an earlier version). WMP 9 is available for all versions of the Windows OS from Windows 98 Second Edition (Win98SE) forward.
As with any new Microsoft media release, ill-informed users are gnashing their teeth in the belief that the new media player will track and send data about all of their media use to Microsoft and are worrying that accepting the End User License Agreement (EULA) grants Microsoft control over their computers. Users are also anguishing over the media formats that WMP 9 supports--but that's a technology battle that I won't get into in this week's column.
One reason that Microsoft introduced WMP 9 was that the company is working with digital media-content providers (movie- and TV-content makers) on a system to protect copyrighted material and to provide a comprehensive digital-rights management (DRM) solution for this protected media. (The problems surrounding Napster is one example of the ongoing concerns related to DRM and protecting copyrighted content; one of the key problems that WMP 9 addresses is a DRM scheme that content providers can accept.) Now Microsoft has given specific conditions for using secure content with WMP 9. For clarity's sake, I quote the following paragraph from the EULA:
"3. DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT. Content providers are using DRM to protect the integrity of their content ('Secure Content') so that their intellectual property, including copyright, in such content is not misappropriated. Portions of this Software and third-party applications, such as media players, use DRM to play Secure Content ('DRM Software'). If the DRM Software's security has been compromised, owners of Secure Content ('Secure Content Owners') may request that Microsoft revoke the DRM Software's right to copy, display and/or play Secure Content. Revocation does not alter the DRM Software's ability to play unprotected content. A list of revoked DRM Software is sent to your computer whenever you download a license for Secure Content from the Internet. You therefore agree that Microsoft may, in conjunction with such license, also download revocation lists onto your computer on behalf of Secure Content Owners. Microsoft will not retrieve any personally identifiable information, or any other information, from your computer by downloading such revocation lists. Secure Content Owners may also require you to upgrade some of the DRM components on your computer ('DRM Upgrades') before accessing their content. When you attempt to play such content, Microsoft DRM Software will notify you that a DRM Upgrade is required and then ask for your consent before the DRM Upgrade is downloaded. Third party DRM Software may do the same. If you decline the upgrade, you will not be able to access content that requires the DRM Upgrade; however, you will still be able to access unprotected content and Secure Content that does not require the upgrade."
What the above paragraph guarantees is the right of secure-content owners to control the content that they own. Your own collection of MP3 files won't be affected in any way; any content that you've created that's not digitally owned and identifiable as such by someone else won't be affected, and nothing that WMP does will change that. When you purchase secure content, you might need to download additional software; once again, this doesn't affect your system's ability to use nonsecure content.
I'm sure paranoia will continue to run rampant, but DRM is a huge issue to content providers. Unless content providers can take steps to control their copyrights, they won't make copyrighted material available to your PC.
Prerelease concern that the press reported was that WMP 9 will track and report to Microsoft all the things that you use your player for, including Internet radio. Yes, WMP 9 does have the capability to do this. But by default, the three features that provide this capability are turned off. WMP 9 won't send your unique player ID to any content provider unless you tell it to do so. WMP 9 won't send any data use information to Microsoft unless you tell it to. WMP 9 won't save file or URL histories (which would indicate what media you've been using) unless you explicitly turn that function on.
So far, users have indicated that WMP 9 is a huge improvement and worth the upgrade--though I don't recommend wholesale use of beta software. But the Chicken Littles of the world who were expecting WMP 9 to significantly invade user privacy will be disappointed. Take a look at WMP 9; you'll be pleasantly surprised.
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Microsoft now says that the Windows 2000 Server hacking mystery that troubled the company last week has been solved. Interestingly, the problem wasn't a new security vulnerability but rather systems administrators who hadn't yet applied long-available OS patches to servers. Perhaps more important, the number of hacking attacks has dropped dramatically over the past several days.
"By analyzing computers that have been compromised, Microsoft has determined that these attacks do not appear to exploit any new product-related security vulnerabilities and do not appear to be viral or worm-like in nature," the company writes in a security advisory describing the problem, "MIRC Trojan-Related Attack Detection and Repair" (see URL below). "Instead, the attacks seek to take advantage of situations where standard precautions have not been taken. The activity appears to be associated with a coordinated series of individual attempts to compromise Windows 2000-based servers. As a result, successful compromises leave a distinctive pattern."
Preventing attacks simply requires administrators to follow time-worn security advice and keep up-to-date on security patches--advice that should amount to common sense by now. For example, Microsoft recommends that administrators eliminate blank or weak passwords, disable the guest account, and use current antivirus software and firewalls.
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected].
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)
Windows & .NET Magazine Network Road Show 2002 is coming this October to New York, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco! Industry experts Mark Minasi and Paul Thurrott will show you how to shore up your system's security and what desktop security features are planned for Microsoft .NET and beyond. Sponsored by NetIQ, Microsoft, and Trend Micro. Registration is free, but space is limited, so sign up now!
Sign up for our latest Web seminar at which we'll discuss the concerns associated with managing a heterogeneous server environment. You'll learn more about the management characteristics of each platform and about existing management solutions and how well they work. Sponsored by NetIQ. There's no charge for this online event, but space is limited so register now at
4. READER CHALLENGE
(contributed by Kathy Ivens, [email protected])
Congratulations to our August Reader Challenge winners. Bruce Redfern of Newfoundland, Canada, wins first prize, a copy of my book, "Admin911:Windows 2000 Registry." Second prize, a copy of "Windows 2000: The Complete Reference," goes to Stephen Switzer of Highland Hills, Ohio. Visit http://www.win2000mag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=26200 to read the answer to the August 2002 Reader Challenge.
Solve this month's Windows Client problem, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by September 20. You must include your full name, street mailing address, and phone number.
I pick winners from the pool of correct answers. Because of the number of entries, I can't reply to all respondents. Look for the solution to this month's problem at http://www.win2000mag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=26604 on October 10.
I receive many email messages in which readers ask, "What were the Microsoft programmers thinking ... ?". One Microsoft feature that seems to generate this type of question is Windows XP's My Network Places. The following problems are the two most common complaints. How would you respond to these readers?
I use XP Professional, and every time I open My Network Places, I see multitudes of icons. I see shares I've never accessed and never will, and I see printers I've never used and never will use (the printers are also listed in my Printers and Faxes folder). Why is this happening, and can I safely delete the icons for these useless shares?
I use XP Pro, and when I open My Network Places, I see many icons for network shares. However, I can't map a drive to the shares. Why not?
I'm a big fan of using Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services as the appropriate tool for remote-server management. So, I was surprised when a friend asked whether I knew why his Windows XP system, which he was trying to connect to a Win2K Terminal Server (full license, not just the administrative license), kept returning a security-error message and failed to connect. XP includes a Terminal Server Client Access License (CAL). Adding an XP client to an existing Terminal Server shouldn't be a problem, regardless of licensing-allocation issues. What I discovered is that a bug exists that you can correct with a couple of registry edits.
On the Win2K Terminal Services machine:
- Launch regedt32.
- Open the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TermService\Parameters registry subkey.
- Delete the value names X 509 Certificate and X 509 Certificate ID.
- Exit the editor and restart Terminal Services.
On the XP computer:
- Launch regedt32.
- Open the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSLicensing registry subkey.
- Delete the key MSLicensing.
- Reboot, then reconnect to the Terminal Services system. If this doesn't solve the problem, contact the Microsoft Clearinghouse to reactivate your licensing server.
Each time Gareth needs to restore a backup tape using NT Backup, the "on media" catalog needs to be read from the tape before he can browse the tape contents and select the files and folders he wants to restore. He wants to know how to configure Windows 2000 backup to update the "on-disk" media catalog during every scheduled backup. To read more about the problem or to offer your expertise, use the following link:
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Judy Drennen, [email protected])
TB Labs released Hot Keyboard Pro 2.0, a utility that speeds up routine tasks by reducing the number of keystrokes required to perform them. The utility lets you execute any program by pressing a hot key. You can organize all your keyboard macros and shortcuts into menus, so you won't have to memorize your hot keys, regardless of how many time-saving macros you create. Hot Keyboard Pro also lets you group all your Internet bookmarks together for one-click launching, and you can group your passwords into one convenient menu. The tool runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Me, and Windows 9x and costs $29.95. Contact TB Labs at [email protected]
Aurelitec released Add/Remove Plus! 2002 3.1, the latest version of its software solution designed to easily uninstall programs that you no longer want on your computer. This updated version includes an uninstall log and provides more editing capabilities for advanced users. Double-click the Uninstall Programs icon on your desktop to display a list of installed programs, highlight the program you want to uninstall, and click Uninstall. The software runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Me, and Windows 9x and costs $14.95. Contact Aurelitec at 877-734-7638
7. CONTACT US
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