WinInfo Daily UPDATE, August 20, 2004

This Issue Sponsored By

Argent Software

Sponsor: Argent Software

Free Download: Monitor Your Entire Infrastructure with ONE Solution
The Argent Guardian monitors servers, applications, any and all SNMP-compliant devices as well as the overall health of the entire network at a fraction of the cost of "framework" solutions. Network Testing Labs states that "The Argent Guardian will cost far less than MOM and yet provide significantly more functionality." Using a patented Agent-Optional architecture, the Argent Guardian is easily installed and monitoring your infrastructure in a matter of hours. Download a fully-functioning copy of the Argent Guardian at:


Short Takes

- Hurry Up and Wait: Most Windows XP Home Users Still Waiting for SP2
- Microsoft Issues First XP SP2 Hotfix
- XP SP2 Reviews Are In: Great Update, Few Problems, Not a Panacea
- XP SP2-Compatible Version of MBSA Now Available
- Microsoft Recommends Throttling SUS for XP SP2
- Microsoft Axes Xbox Sports Games Studio
- Linux Security Ills Make Windows Perfect Fit for London
- I'm On Fire: Apple Recalls PowerBook Batteries
- New IntelliMouse, IntelliType Software Available
- Correction

==== Short Takes ====

An often-irreverent look at some of the week's other stories, by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Hurry Up and Wait: Most Windows XP Home Users Still Waiting for SP2

On Wednesday, as expected, Windows XP Home Edition users started to receive the drizzle download of XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) through Automatic Updates. But many WinInfo Daily UPDATE readers are reporting incredibly slow-moving and even apparently nonexistent downloads. Don't get too excited about receiving XP SP2 quickly through Automatic Updates, Microsoft warns. At a whopping 30MB to 80MB per download and with tens of millions of XP Home customers waiting for the update, weeks will pass before some users complete the download and start the installation. And then there's XP Professional Edition: XP Pro users will have access to the update beginning Wednesday, August 25 but, again, the release will happen over a long period of time. For many users, manually downloading the massive 272MB XP Pro full network installation version will mean that they'll get the update much more quickly than if they wait for Automatic Updates. And, frankly, because simply installing XP SP2 will better secure your system, maybe you should take matters into your own hands.

Microsoft Issues First XP SP2 Hotfix

Just weeks after releasing XP SP2 to the masses, Microsoft has issued the first hotfix for the fledgling OS update. Although the fix sounds fairly technical and obscure, it actually affects a lot of people who run VPN software, which business travelers frequently use when they're on the road. The fix involves something called the loopback adapter, which is just about as exciting as it sounds. If you need the hotfix (and you need it only if you know you need it, if you follow me), you can find it on the Microsoft Knowledge Base Web site.;%5bln%5d;884020

XP SP2 Reviews Are In: Great Update, Few Problems, Not a Panacea

I originally published my XP SP2 review in April, and since then I've updated it as necessary. Now the wider world is starting to come to grips with the update's changes and improvements. Not surprisingly, most of the reviews are highly positive, if grudgingly so, as if Microsoft is totally incapable of creating something that works well and reviewers are confused when the company exceeds their expectations. Many reviewers cart out a handful of tired old observations, as if they had suddenly pulled out a golden nugget of truth from some previously unknown insight. Or they couch the review with some forewarning of doom, such as, "Sure, there aren't any huge problems yet, but there will be--mark my words." Sigh. Regardless, I want to repeat some simple advice: XP SP2 isn't a panacea, and it won't solve all your problems. It doesn't include antivirus software (although it should), and it doesn't include any spyware-removal utilities or the ability to fix malware-related problems. For this reason, you'll need to bolster XP SP2 with other security-oriented applications. So don't be a statistic. XP SP2 can't save you from your own inaction.

XP SP2-Compatible Version of MBSA Now Available

And speaking of XP SP2 and security, one utility you simply must download and run is Microsoft's newly updated Microsoft Baseline Security Advisor (MBSA), which now supports XP SP2. According to Microsoft, "MBSA is the free, best-practices vulnerability assessment tool for the Microsoft platform. It is a tool designed for the IT Professional that helps with the assessment phase of an overall security management strategy. MBSA Version 1.2.1 includes a graphical and command-line interface that can perform local or remote scans of Windows systems." In other words, you run MBSA, and it tells you what's wrong with your PC (or PCs) from a security standpoint. Nice! You can download the tool from the Microsoft Web site.

Microsoft Recommends Throttling SUS for XP SP2

And because XP SP2 is a topic from which we'll never escape this month, let's briefly look at one more XP SP2-related problem. Because of the full network installation's humongous size, Microsoft is recommending that small and midsized businesses that use Microsoft Software Update Services (SUS) to distribute XP SP2 to clients restrict the amount of network bandwidth SUS uses. This action will prevent the XP SP2 distribution from effectively killing all other network activity, which could obviously be a problem. For more details about the process, refer to the Microsoft Web site.

Microsoft Axes Xbox Sports Games Studio

Although Microsoft isn't promoting these two Xbox-related announcements as related events, they surely have something to do with each other. First, Microsoft quietly revealed this week that it's eliminating 76 jobs related to the Xbox sports games studio and canceling all the company's sports-related Xbox titles. Second, in a separate announcement, the company said that it's working with sports gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA)--which coincidentally recently announced support for Microsoft's Xbox Live service a year after telling Microsoft it would never do so--to ensure that EA's upcoming soccer title works with Xbox Live. Coincidence? I think not.

Linux Security Ills Make Windows Perfect Fit for London

Before you read this news item, I want to remind you that I'm reporting this event, not creating it. In other words, don't shoot the messenger. That said, the ludicrous reached its apex this week when officials at the London Borough of Newham revealed that they had selected Windows and other Microsoft solutions over Linux-based open-source solutions because of Linux's "security issues." As a representative of the consultancy firm that Newham hired said, "We established that Microsoft had invested considerable time and energy into the security of \[its\] systems." But that goes without saying. Windows is hacked virtually every second of every day. What else would the company be working on? In any event, Newham is going to roll out a flotilla of Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft SQL Server, and Tablet PCs. The borough even bragged about the amount of money it saved--more than 3.2 million pounds--no doubt thanks to the fact that it considered a Linux alternative, thus prompting Microsoft to offer a sweet deal. But I'm sure that had nothing to do with Newham's decision.

I'm On Fire: Apple Recalls PowerBook Batteries

I knew Apple Computer's PowerBooks ran hot but this is ridiculous. This week, Apple recalled 28,000 PowerBook G4 batteries--all for the new 15" aluminum design--after consumer-protection groups received complaints that the batteries were overheating. The groups investigated, discovered that the batteries create a fire risk, and alerted Apple. This kind of thing happens occasionally, and Apple's products are generally reliable, but I find the company's warning about the batteries somewhat humorous. "Apple urges you to stop using your battery ... If you continue to use your battery, do not leave it unattended and check for signs of overheating." The reason I find this statement humorous is that Apple previously said that the heat coming from the bottom of its PowerBooks was "normal." I guess it depends on your definition of normal. Do I smell smoke?

New IntelliMouse, IntelliType Software Available

Microsoft hardware fans might want to pick up Microsoft IntelliMouse 5.2 and Microsoft IntelliType 5.3, which provide drivers and utilities for Microsoft's mouse devices and keyboards, respectively. You can download the new versions of IntelliPoint 5.2 (see the first URL below) and IntelliType Pro 5.3 (see the second URL below) from the Microsoft Web site.


In an article in yesterday's WinInfo Daily UPDATE, "Microsoft Refutes Windows XP SP2 Flaw Claims," I noted that heise Security researchers "were forced to admit that they were wrong" about their claims that they discovered flaws in XP SP2. However, heise Security's Jurgen Schmidt, who originally found and published the company's assertions, says that he hasn't changed his stance on this matter. (Neither has Microsoft, for the record.) The URLs below point to his original findings.
Flaws in SP2 Security Features
Microsoft: A Matter of Trust

==== Announcements ====

(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Take our Salary Survey, and Enter to Win $500!

We need your help! Windows & .NET Magazine is launching its first Windows IT Pro Industry Salary Survey, and we want to know all about you and what makes you happy as an IT professional. When you complete the survey (about 15 minutes of your time), you'll be entered in a drawing for one of two $500 American Express gift certificates. Look for the survey results--and how you stack up against your peers--in our December 2004 issue. To take the survey, go to

Get 2 Sample Issues of Windows & .NET Magazine (soon to be Windows IT Pro)!

In September, Windows & .NET Magazine will become Windows IT Pro! Act now to get our special charter issue that shows you how to plug DNS holes and select the best scripting editor, plus learn more about the business side of IT. And discover the top 10 PC trends we think you need to keep an eye on. Get two risk-free new and improved issues and a subscription at 40 percent off the cover price at

==== Events Central ====

(A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine: )

We're Bringing the Experts Directly to You with 2 New IT Pro Workshop Series On Security and Exchange

Don't miss two intense workshops designed to give you simple and free tools to better secure your networks and Exchange servers. Discover how to prevent hackers from attacking your network and how to perform a security checkup on your Exchange deployment. Get a free 12-month subscription to Windows & .NET Magazine and enter to win an Xbox! Register now!

==== Sponsored Links ====


Comparison Paper: The Argent Guardian Easily Beats Out MOM;6480843;8214395;q?


Free Download--New--Launch NetOp Remote Control from a USB Drive;9571671;8214395;t?

==== 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]

This email newsletter is brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine, the leading publication for IT professionals deploying Windows and related technologies. Subscribe today.

Manage Your Account

You are subscribed as #EmailAddr#.
You received this email message because you requested to receive additional information about products and services from the Windows & .NET Magazine Network. To unsubscribe, send an email message to mailto:[email protected] Thank you!

View the Windows & .NET Magazine Privacy policy at

Windows & .NET Magazine a division of Penton Media Inc.
221 East 29th Street, Loveland, CO 80538
Attention: Customer Service Department

Copyright 2004, Penton Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.