Catching Up with Reader Questions and Concerns

My commentary for the July 10 issue of Windows Client UPDATE about spam seems to have touched a nerve with readers. I received many email messages in response to the commentary, with suggestions to look at some 40 unique antispam products and technologies. Going through the product suggestions, acquiring software, and evaluating the software will require time; look for my reports about the results to begin appearing here in approximately 1 month.

I've also been receiving messages from readers asking for the results of my search for a new high-resolution monitor, which I described in my commentary for the June 12 issue. I'm afraid my answer might disappoint a lot of you. After talking to numerous monitor vendors, I've decided to buy a refurbished 21" monitor from NEC or Sony (for less than $300) and wait for the next generation of flat-panel displays to hit the market. Although the flat panel will be more expensive than a tube monitor of comparable size and resolution, the newest flat-panel technologies will make the additional cost more reasonable to me. I do my best to minimize the number of monitors that clutter my office (I currently have three monitors for seven computers), so moving to flat-panel displays will confer significant advantages in reducing heat generation and saving space. I'm not a hardcore computer gamer, so the problems with flat panels that most gamers complain about won't affect me. (I'll keep tube monitors around in case my children decide they need them on their computers.)

I've also heard from readers who've had problems applying Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4), which I wrote about in the July 3 issue. Setup errors seem to be common, and most readers who wrote to me think the setup problems have something to do with the service pack itself. Fortunately, that's not the case because the setup problem is a known issue. If your version of Windows Installer is outdated or corrupted, you'll usually receive a service pack setup error. You can solve the problem fairly simply by taking the following steps:
1. From the Administrative Tools menu, open Computer Management.
2. Expand the Services & Applications menu item.
3. Double-click Service.
4. Double-click Windows Installer, then stop the service.
5. Launch regedit.
6. Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSIServer.
7. Select the MSIServer subkey and delete it.
8. Exit regedit and reboot the computer.
9. Click the following link to install the latest version of Windows Installer: http://download.microsoft.com/download/windowsinstaller/install/2.0/nt45/en-us/instmsiw.exe .
10. Rerun the failed service pack installation.

If you've been rigorous in keeping your Win2K computers updated by using the auto update feature, you shouldn't have a problem because you'll have already updated the installer. The procedure I outline above works only if Windows Installer is corrupted. If you're running Win2K SP3, you should have a recent enough version of Windows Installer that it won't be the root cause of any SP4 setup problems.

I hope the topics I've discussed in this commentary catch me up on outstanding reader problems and my most recent crop of reader questions. Keep them coming, and I'll do my best to answer them.

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