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June 11, 2002—In this issue:
- The Times They Are A'Changing
2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
- Microsoft Releases XP SP1 Beta
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
- Remote Access to XP Services
- New Win2K Terminal Services Certificates Prevent XP Client Connections
- DFS Servers Hang Intermittently
- System Might Hang When You Disable Paging
- Registry API Blue Screen
- Win a Free $200 Gift Certificate to RoadWired.com!
- Subscription to SQL Server Magazine!
5. HOT RELEASE (ADVERTISEMENT)
- Free Download - Control PCs Over the Internet!
6. INSTANT POLL
- Results of Previous Poll: Desktop OS
- New Instant Poll: Upgrading to XP
- Featured Thread: Removing Outlook Express
- Tip: Force XP to Reapply a Custom Policy at Logon
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
- High-Availability NAS E-Book Available
- Open File Manager Achieves Tivoli-Ready Certification
9. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected])
While researching two topics I originally intended to write about this week, the thought occurred to me that these topics are part of a larger trend and that the world of Microsoft-oriented computing is changing rapidly. I was reviewing the columns I wrote for Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE over the past few months and had a weird "Beautiful Mind" moment, in which the seemingly unconnected topics swirled and came together into a (somewhat) cohesive whole—and that larger picture is starting to make sense.
Let me explain. I've been following Microsoft in one way or another for more than a decade, and I watched as the scrappy upstart became the industry heavyweight we all know (and sometimes love) today. But Microsoft grew so fast and became dominant so easily that the company never experienced the necessary learning process that most companies face. Microsoft's random defeats—such as the ill-fated "Bob" task-oriented UI and the first Windows CE-based Handheld PCs—didn't inhibit the company because its dominant products, Windows and Office, and the revenue generated from these products, were never seriously challenged.
Sure, Microsoft talks about challenges and "bet the company" products, as it's always done. The company hyped the Internet threat, which it neatly parried by integrating a Web browser into its Windows family, and it pushes digital convergence products in a bid to move into new home, mobile, and business markets. But no serious threat to the company's dominance has pushed the company to the point where it had to respond to the market, rather than have the market respond to it. A decade of mild OS and office productivity updates don't indicate an embattled company.
But something has changed in the past 12 months. Microsoft's talk about betting the company on Windows .NET, the company's sudden and unexpected move to Trustworthy Computing, and its attempts, both internal and external, to change public perception of the company all suggest that Microsoft senses a sea change in the marketplace and that, if the company doesn't move quickly, it stands to lose a lot of that market. Watching Microsoft struggle a bit is interesting, but even more interesting is how the company and its corporate culture react to these changes.
These changes could never have occurred under Bill Gates' leadership. When Gates handed the reins to Steve Ballmer 2 years ago, many people assumed that Gates would still control the company from behind the scenes. Clearly, that assumption is wrong. Ballmer has undertaken a series of sometimes mind-boggling reorganizations and executive shuffles in a bid to meld the company in his own style. And although his efforts took time, and the company underwent some fits and starts, today's Microsoft is Ballmer's Microsoft. Here's what he's accomplished recently.
Under Ballmer, several high-level executives now have direct fiscal control over their product lines, and they report directly to Ballmer. If a product line can't justify its existence, it dies; the company will no longer float unprofitable products simply because other products in the same division are successful. The result is that each product will offer better features and effectively compete with third-party solutions, or the company will kill the product.
The economic ramifications are obvious, but Microsoft's move to accountability is long overdue. The company is huge, complicated, and has its fingers in every pie imaginable. Over time, I expect this policy to streamline and improve the company's offerings.
Old Code vs. Security
In a similar vein, the company will treat old, insecure code as harshly as unprofitable products. Microsoft Director of Security Assurance Steve Lipner said this week that the company will begin exorcising old features from current products if those features receive little use or pose potential security problems. This policy mirrors Microsoft's newfound belief that security must take precedence over new features, and although some users will be surprised and chagrined to see beloved features disappearing over time, Lipner says that this purging is the only way to truly embrace Trustworthy Computing.
For example, last week, a critical Internet Explorer (IE) security vulnerability surfaced that opened up millions of Windows users to hack attacks. Lipner says that the vulnerability is in IE's support for Gopher, an ancient, rarely used Internet protocol. So don't be surprised when Microsoft removes or turns off this feature and similar features in the near future. "A lot of the \[upcoming\] design changes \[to our products\] are to remove this feature or turn that one off by default," he said.
I think Microsoft can expect criticism as the company begins to retire features and entire products more quickly than it did before. But that criticism will fade if the company's products become more secure.
Internal Call to Action
In a June 6 memo to Microsoft's entire workforce, Ballmer spelled out the internal changes that the company will need to undergo to gain the trust of the outside world. Ballmer wrote that Microsoft must convey "core values of honesty, integrity, and respect" to its customers and partners, and it must regain the trust that it lost during its 5-year antitrust battle with the US government.
I think the old saying about good generals not necessarily making good presidents is true for Gates and Microsoft. Gates had the right combination of skills to take Microsoft from the fringes of the computing world to its current position of dominance in record time. But once Microsoft became hugely successful, the company needed a more pragmatic and open approach. Gates' most enduring legacy might well be that he stepped aside at the right time and let the right person guide the company through this current stage of market maturity. And if Ballmer's Microsoft is successful, we'll all benefit.
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2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Last Wednesday, Microsoft released its first external beta release for Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), its upcoming update to XP that will add new features, support for new technology, and a bevy of bug fixes. Most notably, XP SP1 includes security fixes for vulnerabilities found during Microsoft's recent Trustworthy Computing-inspired code review and a set of changes to the Windows UI necessitated by the company's proposed antitrust settlement with the US government. For the complete story, visit the following URL:
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
(contributed by Paula Sharick, [email protected])
Now that Windows XP is making its way onto the desktop, network administrators need to remotely view and manipulate XP services from a Windows 2000 system using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Services snap-in. When you start the Services snap-in and ask it to load the services on a remote XP system, you might see an error message that states "Unable to open service control manager database on \\ computer. Error 1722: The RPC server is unavailable." The most likely explanation for this error is that you haven't enabled the File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks on the XP system. When this component isn't active, you'll see similar error messages when you attempt to remotely query services using the sc.exe command-line utility and when you try to remotely display or schedule tasks with the at.exe and schtasks.exe commands. You don't need a bug fix for these problems; simply enable File and Print Sharing on all XP clients. For more information, read the Microsoft article " An RPC Error Occurs When You View Services on a Remote Computer".
WEB-EXCLUSIVE ARTICLES: The following items are posted on the Windows & .NET Magazine Web site. For the complete story, use the following link and scroll to the appropriate article.
Microsoft recently changed the certificates that the Microsoft Clearinghouse uses to authorize Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services Licensing servers, and this change can prevent Windows XP clients from successfully connecting to a Terminal Services server. Read more about this problem at the following URL:
If your DFS servers hang intermittently, you need to call Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) and ask for the new version of the Multiple Universal Naming Convention Provider (MUP) component mup.sys. For an explanation of the problem, visit the following URL:
The Windows 2000 Memory Manager has a bug that might hang a system when you disable paging. Read the details at the following URL:
If you write code that manipulates the registry, you might encounter a bug in one of the registry API calls that can cause a system to crash. Find out more about this problem at the following URL:
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)
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6. INSTANT POLL
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Which OS do most of your organization's desktops run?" Here are the results (+/-2 percent) from the 587 votes:
- 16% Windows Me or Win9x
- 26% Windows NT
- 50% Windows 2000
- 7% Windows XP
- 1% Other
The next Instant Poll question is, "If you use an older desktop OS, what keeps you from upgrading to Windows XP?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Current hardware won't support it, b) Satisfactory performance of current OS, c) Software and licensing costs, d) XP security concerns, or e) Other.
Glenn is creating a Windows 2000 build but doesn't want Microsoft Outlook Express to install. He has tried renaming the associated .dll files, but the system recreates the files when a new user logs on. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:
(contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com)
Q. How can I force Windows XP to reapply a custom policy every time a user logs on?
A. Custom policies (also known as preferences) consist of custom .adm files. You typically apply these custom policies when you first create them and when you modify them. As a result of modification, the cached list of Group Policy Objects—GPOs—doesn't match the current list. Therefore, if a user succeeds in changing the settings that the custom policy invokes (e.g., using Desktop settings, Control Panel), XP won't reapply that custom policy the next time the user logs on. However, you can configure the OS to reapply the custom policy every time a user logs on or a machine starts by performing the following steps:
- Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
- Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\GPExtensions\
- Double-click the NoGPOListChanges value (or create this value of type DWORD if it's missing), set the value to 0, and click OK.
- Close the registry editor.
Setting the value back to 1 tells the OS that it doesn't need to call the callback function to reload the policy when no change occurs (the default behavior). This registry change has the same effect as setting the "Process even if the Group Policy objects have not changed" option in the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Computer Configuration snap-in under the Administrative Templates, System, Group Policy section.
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Bob Kretschman, [email protected])
Tricord Systems and Realtimepublishers.com announced "The Definitive Guide to High-Availability NAS," an e-book that Tricord will host on its Web site. The e-book, written by industry expert John Vacca, will discuss Network Attached Storage (NAS) and high-availability options currently available. The e-book will be available on a chapter-by-chapter basis as Vacca writes it, and it will highlight topics such as clustering NAS, designing NAS, planning for NAS, installing and deploying NAS, and maintaining NAS. The first chapter is available for free download at the URL below. Registered readers will receive email notifications when Tricord posts a new chapter.
St. Bernard Software announced that its Open File Manager product received Tivoli-Ready certification with IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager backup solution. Tivoli Ready is the official program that tests and certifies third-party products for compatibility with Tivoli solutions. Open File Manager adds considerable value to Tivoli Storage Manager because it lets Tivoli provide a complete backup solution to customers. Open File Manager supports Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT. For more information about Open File Manager, contact St. Bernard Software at 858-676-2277 or 800-782-3762.
9. CONTACT US
Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:
- ABOUT THE COMMENTARY — [email protected]
- ABOUT KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT — [email protected]
- ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL — [email protected]
(please mention the newsletter name in the subject line)
- TECHNICAL QUESTIONS — http://www.winnetmag.net/forums
- PRODUCT NEWS — [email protected]
- QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR WINDOWS & .NET MAGAZINE UPDATE SUBSCRIPTION?
Customer Support — [email protected]
- WANT TO SPONSOR WINDOWS & .NET MAGAZINE UPDATE?
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