Windows Client UPDATE, April 1, 2004

Windows Client UPDATE--A Heads-Up on Windows XP SP2 RC1--April 1, 2004

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Commentary: A Heads-Up on Windows XP SP2 RC1

Reader Challenge

- March 2004 Reader Challenge Winners
- April 2004 Reader Challenge

News & Views

- Gates: Longhorn Set for 2006 Release


- Tip: Stop XP from Restoring Deleted My Documents Subfolders
- Featured Thread: Use a GPO to Display a Desktop .jpg Image in XP

New and Improved

- Manage Windows OS Migrations
- Monitor and Administer PCs Remotely
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== Commentary: A Heads-Up on Windows XP SP2 RC1 ====

by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

As Paul Thurrott reported in his WinInfo Daily UPDATE article "Microsoft Ships Windows XP SP2 RC1 to Testers,", InstantDoc ID 42076, Microsoft has released the first release candidate (RC) build of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). Despite Microsoft's previous statements to the effect that service packs would no longer contain feature upgrades, XP SP2 RC1 contains many elements that qualify as features, ranging from a new client security and privacy configuration tool to a seriously upgraded personal firewall.

You can find a detailed description of the changes that SP2 RC1 will make to your XP installation in the Microsoft article, "Changes to Functionality in Service Pack 2 for Microsoft Windows XP," at . The article states that it doesn't describe all the changes that the final release of SP2 will include. If you plan to evaluate SP2 RC1, keep in mind that the final release of SP2 will include some changes that aren't in RC1.

Check out the XP SP2 Technical Preview Program home page at . There, you'll find the download link for RC1 (which is a whopping 273MB; plan your download accordingly) and links to all the Microsoft resources dedicated to XP SP2.

You might want a heads up on what to expect from XP SP2 RC1 before you take the plunge and try it out. To get a feel for RC1, I installed the software on three different XP-equipped computers. I installed RC1 on a fresh installation of XP that I first updated to SP1; on an updated XP setup with various applications installed, including common office-automation software and 10 other common applications and system utilities; and on a heavily used computer with dozens of installed applications and a series of OS upgrades.

As you might expect, the fresh installation of XP SP1 had no problems with the SP2 RC1 upgrade. I had no errors, and applications I installed after the upgrade worked properly. Unfortunately, the next two installations left me less sanguine.

The second installation started just fine but then had problems when some applications failed because they couldn't access the network. SP2 RC1's new personal firewall was blocking the applications, but by the time Windows prompted me to allow the applications network access, they'd already failed. I solved the problem by configuring the personal firewall to let applications that needed to access the network do so. After I rebooted the system, the applications that had previously failed loaded and ran properly. However, I discovered a tougher problem: My network-monitoring tools failed to run. The tools returned load errors and were clearly not compatible with SP2 RC1. I sent a few notes to the ISVs who provided my tools, and they're working to solve the problems.

The third system was a complete disaster. The installation proceeded without error, but the computer failed to reboot and returned various driver error messages. Recovery proved impossible because Automated System Recovery (ASR) failed, as did my attempt to upgrade or reinstall XP. (The installation routine returned a fatal error after about 20 minutes, stating that the ID of the installed OS was invalid.) I had to restore the computer from a disk image backup to return to its previously functional configuration.

As you can see, running SP2 RC1 is something of a gamble. Take Microsoft's advice to heart: Don't install SP2 RC1 on production systems and make sure you back up any systems on which you intend to run RC1 before you install it.


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==== Reader Challenge ====

by Kathy Ivens, [email protected]

March 2004 Reader Challenge Winners

Congratulations to David Ballard of Palo Cedro, California, who wins first prize in our March 2004 Reader Challenge. Rob Giorgio of West Allenhurst, New Jersey, wins second prize. Both winners get a copy of "Windows Server Undocumented Solutions: Beyond the Knowledge Base," by Serdar Yegulalp (McGraw-Hill Publishing). Visit to read the answer to the March Reader Challenge.

April 2004 Reader Challenge

Solve this month's Windows Client challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by April 15, 2004. You must include your full name, street mailing address, and phone number (without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win).

I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents. (I never respond to a request for a receipt.) Look for the solutions to this month's problem at on April 15, 2004.

I've received many queries about how the "pool of correct answers" is created and what the process is for picking a winner. I keep each month's responses in a discrete mailbox folder. After the deadline for entries passes, I read every response. I delete responses that are incorrect or have no deliverable mailing address. (No post office boxes, please.) Responses that are especially well written and humorous are forwarded to the same mailbox, so they're duplicated in the mailbox (to give them an edge--I'm a sucker for humor and originality). Some months, no responses are duplicated because no answers stand out as particularly amusing or clever. I ask two people who are not involved with the contest, UPDATE, or Penton Media to pick a number between 1 and X (X is the number of messages remaining in the mailbox). The messages are sorted by date and time; the numbers correspond to the messages' chronological order. The chosen numbers are the winning entries.

An administrator of a 2000-seat domain told me his users were threatening him. They were tired of opening My Network Places and seeing an impossibly long list of shares. The users wanted to choose which shares are displayed in My Network Places on their individual systems. They told the administrator to find a way to stop Windows from creating a share listing whenever they accessed a shared folder on the network or they would park in his special parking spot, steal his computer books, and do various other things to make his life miserable. My administrator friend really loves his next-to-the-door parking space, especially when it rains or snows, so what can he do to keep it for himself?

==== News & Views ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Gates: Longhorn Set for 2006 Release

Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates confirmed this week what industry onlookers have long suspected: The company won't ship its next-generation Windows version (code-named Longhorn) until at least 2006. But Gates said that this new date doesn't represent a delay, per se, because Longhorn has never been a date-driven release.

"People are speculating that we're out in 2006 sometime \[with Longhorn\], and that's probably a valid speculation," Gates said during a talk at Gartner Spring Symposium 2004 in San Diego. "People are amazed how far along we are. When we had the developers conference \[in October 2003\], a few people said, 'Hey, that looks good. Why don't you ship it tomorrow?' Well, in terms of getting all the pieces together so that \[Longhorn will be\] a clear IT breakthrough, a clear developer breakthrough, and a clear end-user breakthrough, we're doing quite a bit more. We say the train is leaving \[in 2006\]; \[people who have\] their acts totally together by that date \[will leave on\] the train. The train could have a lot of people on it, or it could be fairly empty. The Longhorn release \[will include\] some fundamental breakthroughs in terms of how trivial it is to click and install a rich application, how trivial it is that there's no state on the machine, that if the machine breaks down you can plug in a new PC and be up and running. A lot of things that have to do with IT complexity--fundamental breakthroughs--are must-haves for Longhorn."

Regarding the Longhorn release schedule, Gates said that Microsoft will ship an alpha build of the new OS this year; that release is expected in May at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2004 trade show in Seattle. "We'll have \[an\] alpha release out this year that everybody can look at; after that we'll give a precise date \[for the final version of Longhorn\]." Gates neglected to say that Microsoft is also scheduled to ship Longhorn Beta 1 in late summer, although whether the company is still on track for that release is unclear.

When asked whether Microsoft will ship an interim version of Windows XP before releasing Longhorn, Gates joked that XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) will be the interim release. (Although the company is considering shipping an interim XP version code-named XP Reloaded, Gates didn't discuss that release.) "There's a release called SP2," he said. "That's a great name--Windows XP SP2. And this summer, that release \[will be\] all about security. It's a breakthrough in terms of how it turns on the firewall automatically, blocks certain types of Internet downloads, and files things. It's not about new features or new APIs or new's purely security focused. So we'll have a strong message that says that if you're buying new systems or looking at updating, SP2 is the best client version to use. The really big breakthrough the Longhorn release."

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==== Resources ====

Tip: Stop XP from Restoring Deleted My Documents Subfolders

by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

To ensure that files are backed up, many network administrators prefer that their users store work-related files in their network home directories by default, rather than in their local My Documents subfolders. However, you can't simply delete subfolders in My Documents from a local computer; Windows XP will just recreate them. You can, however, stop XP from restoring deleted My Documents subfolders by following these steps:

1. Open a command prompt window.
2. Enter the following command to unregister the DLL that maintains the My Documents subfolders: regserv32 /u mydocs.dll
(To reenable the DLL, enter the command regserv32 mydocsdll.)
3. You'll then see the message "DllUnregisterServer in mydocs.dll succeeded". Click OK.
4. You can now delete My Documents subfolders without XP restoring them.

Featured Thread: Use a GPO to Display a Desktop .jpg Image in XP

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==== New and Improved ====

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