Windows Client UPDATE, August 21, 2003

==== This Issue Sponsored By ====

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1. Commentary: MSBlaster Aftermath 2. News & Views - Microsoft Finalizes Office 2003

3. Announcements - Active Directory eBook Chapter 3 Published! - Need Help Managing Your Storage Investment?

4. Resources - Tip: Running the Convert Command in Windows XP - Featured Thread: Disabling IE on Windows 9x Clients

5. Events - New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show!

6. New and Improved - Automatically Capture System Changes - Speed Problem Diagnosis with Remote Control - Submit Top Product Ideas

7. Contact Us - See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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==== 1. Commentary: MSBlaster Aftermath ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

Over the last week or so, I've received a large quantity of acerbic email. Fortunately, the vitriol expressed wasn't aimed at me but rather at the coworkers of the folks who wrote to me. I received roughly equal amounts of mail from both categories of my typical readers: power users and IT professionals. Each group, perhaps not surprisingly, pointed their finger at the other group. I've seen logical disconnects occur between the IT world and the real world before, but rarely on this large a scale.

The power users complained about the incompetence of their companies' IT staff for letting the MSBlaster (Lovsan) virus wreak havoc throughout their network. The IT pros complained about users who opened messages that they shouldn't open. In this case, I stand firmly in the middle: Both sides are right. On one side of the equation, users shouldn't open attachments willy-nilly. They need to understand the potential consequences when opening executable files, and they should run local antivirus software. Users should also take some responsibility for keeping their computers up-to-date. After all, if you can remember to change your car's oil every 3000 miles, you can remember to check Windows Update once a month. On the other side of the equation, IT professionals who don't keep their firewalls locked down, don't update their servers regularly, and don't work with their users are incompetent. Attending to those tasks is basic to working in IT, and if you don't do them properly, you have no one but yourself to blame when things go wrong. Don't assign blame, and don't make excuses; your friends don't need to hear it, and your enemies won't believe it.

New Virus Hits

In a plot twist worthy of a Luddite-inspired science fiction movie, a new virus that's designed to make your computer healthier is on the loose. A new version of the MSBlaster virus was reported on Monday. Lovsan.D (aka Welchia/Nachi) makes use of the same Windows exploit that MSBlaster used to cause remote procedure call (RPC) attacks to crash networks everywhere. However, rather than replicating and attacking RPC ports, Lovsan.D installs itself and looks for MSBlaster. If it finds MSBlaster, Lovsan.D then deletes that virus, downloads the patch from Microsoft, and applies it, preventing future attacks that use the same exploit. Once Lovsan.D has done its work, it checks the date--if the date is later than January 1, 2004, Lovsan.D deletes itself.

I don't know which is worse--that someone wrote a worm to clean up after a previous worm, or that people still exist who live in Internet-connected caves and run unpatched systems. We're fortunate that this most recent virus attack falls into the "annoyance" category, rather than the "blatantly destructive" category. Given the number of computers that MSBlaster affected, had Lovsan.D been of a type to destroy data rather cause a Denial of Service (DoS), we'd be cleaning up for the next 6 months. If you'd like more details about this new virus variation, check out the following sites and articles:

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==== 2. News & Views ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Finalizes Office 2003

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it had finalized its core Office 2003 products and released all of them to manufacturing, setting the stage for an October 21 launch in New York. Starting with this version, Microsoft is marketing its Office products as part of the Microsoft Office System. This week's product finalizations include all of the core Office 2003 products, which include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Visio, FrontPage, and Publisher. Other Office System products will be finalized in the days ahead.

"The release to manufacturers of the Microsoft Office System is a milestone, not only in terms of the unprecedented development and testing work that went into it, but also because it enables customers to piece together data and operational aspects of their business where the real work happens: at individuals' desktops," said Steven Sinofsky, the senior vice president of the Information Worker Group at Microsoft. "The value of software is measured in how you use it, and never before has it been so easy for businesses to derive such incredible value from their software investments."

According to Microsoft, more than 600,000 beta testers--more than three times the size of the Office XP beta testers group--tested Office 2003. Feedback from users who obtained the publicly available Beta 2 release were key to ensuring that the product was of high quality and met users' needs. Microsoft told me that an interim Beta 2 Refresh release, made available online to all Beta 2 users, was the result of user feedback from Beta 2. This feedback and the resulting changes caused Microsoft to delay the Office 2003 release several months.

Office 2003 products will be priced identically to those in Office XP. The cheapest version, Microsoft Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003, will carry a $149 suggested retail price. Individual applications will cost $99 to $599 at retail, depending on the product and whether it's an upgrade version. Microsoft will make Office 2003 available through volume licensing starting September 1, and PC makers will begin shipping machines with Office 2003 preinstalled by the end of September. Retail customers in the United States and Canada can purchase Office 2003 products beginning October 21, the company said.

==== 3. Announcements ====
(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Active Directory eBook Chapter 3 Published!

The third chapter of Windows & .NET Magazine's popular eBook "Windows 2003: Active Directory Administration Essentials" is now available at no charge! Chapter 3 looks at what's new and improved with Windows Server 2003 Active Directory management. Download it now!

Need Help Managing Your Storage Investment?

Planning and managing your storage deployment can be costly and complex. Check out Windows & .NET Magazine's Storage Administration Web site for the latest advice, news, and tips to help you make the most of your storage investment. You'll find problem-solving articles, eye-opening white papers, a technical forum, and much more!

==== 4. Resources ====

Tip: Running the Convert Command in Windows XP
(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected]),/BR>

In my commentary, "Leverage the Advantages of NTFS" in the April 17 issue of Windows Client UPDATE ( ), I suggested that users running FAT should convert their drives to NTFS for the additional features and increased security that NTFS provides. I received a lot of email in response to that column, but the messages that stuck in my head were those that said you should never convert from FAT to NTFS because the Convert command always uses 512-byte clusters, which can fragment files and slow disk performance.

If you're running Windows XP, using the Convert command isn't a problem. In XP, the Convert command selects the most appropriate cluster size for the disk size. For most typical desktop computer disks, the cluster size that the Convert command selects is 4K.

When you type

convert /?
at a command prompt, you'll see the following output:

Converts FAT volumes to NTFS.

CONVERT volume /FS:NTFS \[/V\] \[/CvtArea:filename\] \[/NoSecurity\] \[/X\]

volume Specifies the drive letter (followed by a colon), mount point, or volume name.
/FS:NTFS Specifies that the volume is to be converted to NTFS.
/V Specifies that Convert should be run in verbose mode.
/CvtArea:filename Specifies a contiguous file in the root directory to be the place holder for NTFS system files.
/NoSecurity Specifies the converted files and directories security settings to be accessible by everyone.
/X Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary. All opened handles to the volume would then be invalid.

Featured Thread: Disabling IE on Windows 9x Clients

Forum member Mercman needs to disable Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) on some of the Windows 9x clients on his network, but those machines still need the ability to access the corporate WAN for AS/400 and intranet use. To disable IE, Mercman created a logon script to rename and move the iexplore.exe file on specific machines (by machine ID), but his solution has created problems such as scrambled file associations. Mercman would appreciate suggestions for a simpler, more complete solution. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:

==== 5. Events ====
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show!

Learn more about the wireless and mobility solutions that are available today! Register now for this free event!

==== 6. New and Improved ====
by Sue Cooper, [email protected]

Automatically Capture System Changes

Altiris announced Altiris Recovery Solution 5.7, software that lets you recover OSs, applications, data stored on desktops and notebooks, and server operational states. The software automatically takes daily snapshots of users' systems to capture changes, which you can use to restore a system to a saved state when data loss occurs due to unintentional user changes, accidental deletions, hardware failure, virus corruption, or theft. Altiris Recovery Solution provides support for open and locked files, as well as the option to back up to a protected area on the local hard disk. Contact Altiris at

Speed Problem Diagnosis with Remote Control

Funk Software released Proxy 4.1, remote control software that lets you diagnose and resolve problems with desktops, servers, and crucial network systems. New features include TCP/IP support for use across firewalls, and recursive directory copying, which lets you transfer multiple files or a single directory with one command, expediting software reinstallation and system backup. The software also offers a clipboard transfer feature to let you copy and transfer text between desktops, facilitating the capture of screen prints and error messages. Proxy 4.1 runs on Windows Server 2003/XP/2000/NT/Me/98 and ships with an older version that supports DOS, Novell NetWare servers, Windows 95, and Windows 3.11. Contact Funk Software at 800-828-4146, 617-497-6339, or [email protected]

Submit Top Product Ideas

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 Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected]

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==== 7. Contact Us ====

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