Windows Client UPDATE, June 26, 2003

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Windows Scripting Solutions


1. Commentary: Deploying Registry Changes to Multiple Computers

2. News & Views - Mac vs. PC, 2003 Edition: Are Apple's G5 Benchmark Results False?

3. Announcements - Windows & .NET Magazine Connections: Fall Dates Announced - New Active Directory Web Seminar!

4. Resources - Tip: Hide Date and Time Information in the System Tray Notification Area - Featured Thread: Msinfo32.exe Problem

5. Events - Storage Road Show Event Archived!

6. New and Improved - Service-Based Spam Filtering - Desktop Backup and Synchronization - Submit Top Product Ideas

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

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==== 1. Commentary: Deploying Registry Changes to Multiple Computers ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

I've received email recently from power users who, because their small organizations or departments lack IT personnel, find themselves providing computer support. These users asked me about deploying some of the registry changes in the tips I contribute to Windows Client UPDATE. So in my commentary this week, for readers who don't or can't use System Policies, I describe how to easily deploy registry changes to multiple computers.

The first step is to create a registry file (i.e., a .reg file) that contains the registry changes that you want to apply to your client computers. Although you can create registry files from scratch in a text editor such as notepad.exe, a simpler method is make the changes on a single computer, then export the changes to a file.

To export a registry edit you've created to a .reg file, take the following steps:
1. Launch regedit.
2. Navigate to the value that you want to export.
3. Select Export Registry File from the Registry menu.
4. Give the file a name you'll remember and save it.

By the way, following this process to save an existing registry value before you make changes to your local system's registry is a good idea. If a registry change goes awry and creates problems in your system, you can restore the registry simply by double-clicking the .reg file you created (which writes the change to the local registry) that contains the original value.

Now that your intended change is in a .reg file, you can copy the file to every computer on which you want to make the change and ask users to double-click the file to install the change, but doing so is cumbersome. The simplest way to make the change on multiple machines is to first put the .reg file on a network share that's visible to all users whose computers who need the change, then add the following command to their logon script:

Regedit.exe /s "full path/file.reg"

where "full path/file.reg" is the full pathname to your .reg file. The command will initiate a silent installation of the registry change. The usual process for a registry change (i.e., running this command without /s and requiring the user to double-click the .reg file) prompts the user to accept the registry change. Adding the /s option to the command eliminates the user prompt and makes the change silently, which means your users can't choose whether or not to make the change. If the registry change requires a reboot, the change won't become effective until users reboot their computer.

If you don't have access to logon scripts (or are in a peer network), you can create a batch file with the same command and instruct your users to execute the command from the network. Or, you can email the batch file to your users if you aren't blocking batch files in email. You need to create a batch file only if you want to use the silent installation option. If relying on your users to make the changes in the new .reg file isn't a concern, you can send the batch file to them with instructions to double-click the file. Alternatively, you can point users to a network location for the file.

If this process sounds simple, that's because it is. Don't get carried away with making registry changes, but if you decide you need to make them, keeping a library of the changed files, as well as the unmodified keys, is a good idea.


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

Mac vs. PC, 2003 Edition: Are Apple's G5 Benchmark Results False?

During his keynote address at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2003 in San Francisco earlier this week, Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs told the excitable audience that the company's new PowerMac G5 systems--due in August--would not just match but surpass the performance of similarly equipped high-end Pentium 4 and XEON-based PCs from companies such as Dell. "We are delivering today the world's fastest personal computer," Jobs said of the G5 during the keynote, although the systems won't ship for 2 months. Apple has made similar performance claims over the years, but it has always relied on rather spurious evidence, such as hand-picked benchmarks that highlight specific strengths of the PowerPC platform. However, this time, Jobs touted a number of so-called industry standard benchmarks from VeriTest that reputedly back up Apple's claims. Has the Macintosh really surpassed the PC, after years of lagging behind?

Sadly, Apple's claims are as questionable as ever, but what's astonishing is how quickly the truth has come out. Almost immediately after the keynote, while Mac fanatics worldwide continued chortling over their perceived victory, people around the Web began looking into the benchmarks Apple used to prove the G5's prowess. Predictably, things aren't as simple as Apple's followers would like to believe. More alarming, even dual-processor G5 machines still don't match the processing power of a single-processor Pentium 4 system, contrary to what Apple announced Monday.

Here's why: In a bit of classic benchmark trickery, Apple's systems were highly tuned in nonstandard ways to achieve the best scores on specific benchmarks. Meanwhile, the PCs used to compete against the G5 were saddled with generic tools. Furthermore, advanced Pentium 4 features on the test machines such as hyperthreading were turned off, artificially lowering those systems' scores. What's most interesting is that VeriTest has results for various Pentium 4 systems in which these features are enabled. Guess which system, Mac or PC, comes out ahead when those results are compared?

"Apple's test results are invalidated by severely lopsided testing conditions," InfoWorld's Tom Yager writes in his Web log. "Among them, Apple used a prototype G5 running its special GNU compiler and an unreleased version of OS X. The Dells used shipping hardware, vanilla GNU compilers, and Red Hat 9. None of this would be a problem if Apple and VeriTest didn't claim the tests were objective. An apples-to-apples test, so to speak, would require that Dell, like Apple, be allowed to tune its systems and software for best-case performance. Dell's published results on the SPEC site--regarded as the definitive repository for SPEC results--are best-case. They're far better than the results cited by VeriTest in the Apple report."

Sure enough, in each of the benchmarks in which Apple claims victory over the Pentium 4- or Xeon-based systems, various Pentium 4, Xeon, and even AMD Athlon XP systems actually beat the G5 routinely when the tested systems have been properly configured and don't have certain features disabled.

What's most bizarre about all this is that Apple makes good products. Let's be clear on this point: Mac OS X is excellent, and the Panther release, although not overly exciting, looks solid. The company's hardware is of tremendous quality (I own two Macs and an iPod), with the PowerMac G5 clearly continuing this trend. And choosing a Mac over a PC in certain situations makes perfect sense. But Apple has been exceeding the bounds of credibility with its performance claims for years now, and this latest example is by far the boldest. This situation, ultimately, is an embarrassment for both Apple and its customers. Perhaps the company needs to rethink its claim that the PowerMac G5 is the "world's fastest computer." Quite clearly, that isn't the case.

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

Windows & .NET Magazine Connections: Fall Dates Announced

Jump-start your fall 2003 training plans by securing your seat for Windows & .NET Magazine Connections Fall, scheduled for November 2 through 6, 2003, in Orlando, Florida. Register now to receive the lowest possible registration fee. Call 800-505-1201 or 203-268-3204 for more information.

New Active Directory Web Seminar!

Discover how to securely manage Active Directory (AD) in a multiforest environment, establish attribute-level auditing without affecting AD performance, enhance secure permission management with "Roles," and more! There's no charge for this Aelita Software-sponsored event, but space is limited--register today!

==== 4. Resources ====

Tip: Hide Date and Time Information in the System Tray Notification Area (contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])

In the May 29 issue of Windows Client UPDATE, I showed you how to make registry changes in Windows XP to hide the icons in the notification area of the system tray from users. A few readers responded that they want to keep the icons but hide date and time information because it occupies so much space. Doing so is easy with the following registry change:
1. Launch regedit.
2. Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ policies\Explorer
3. Create a HideClock value of type REG_DWORD and set the value to 1.
4. Exit regedit and reboot the computer.

Featured Thread: Msinfo32.exe Problem

Forum member vadek has updated his Windows 98 Second Edition (Win98SE) computer to an AMD Athlon CPU with ASUS motherboard and 512MB of Double Data Rate (DDR) PC2700 memory. When he runs Microsoft System Information, a "this program performed an illegal operation" error message pops up when he clicks any Hardware Resources or Components category. He has reloaded msinfo32.exe from his original Win98SE installation CD-ROM, but doing so doesn't solve the problem. Vadek is unsure of whether he has a hardware or software problem. His system works fine otherwise. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:

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

Storage Road Show Event Archived!

Couldn't make the HP & Microsoft Network Storage Solutions Road Show? View the taped event archives from your Web browser!

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

Service-Based Spam Filtering

Trend Micro announced the Trend Micro Spam Prevention Service (SPS), an application that blocks spam at the Internet gateway and interoperates with Trend Micro's antivirus and content security products. SPS employs heuristic technology antispam filtering rules. After SPS defines a message as spam, users can tag, deliver, or reroute the message. Users can configure spam prevention sensitivity in the following categories: hate mail, get rich quick solicitations, sexual content, bulk mail, and commercial spam. Trend Micro Spam Prevention Service supports Windows and Solaris. Pricing begins at $30 per user per year for 25 users. Contact Trend Micro at 888-588-7363.

Desktop Backup and Synchronization

SmartSync Software released SmartSync Pro 2.9, backup and data synchronization software for local and global networks. SmartSync Pro can synchronize user data from disk, LANs, FTP transfers, and email transfers. The software tracks file version, date, and contents and provides incremental backups and one-click file backup, restoration, and synchronization. Features include a task scheduler, data compression, activity logging, and password protection. SmartSync Pro 2.9 supports Windows XP/2000/NT/Me/98/95. Pricing is $35 for one license. Contact SmartSync Software at [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 ====

About the newsletter -- [email protected] About technical questions -- About product news -- [email protected] About your subscription -- [email protected] About sponsoring UPDATE -- [email protected]

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