Windows Client UPDATE, September 18, 2003

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1. Commentary: Chasing the Wind: Automatic Software Updating

2. News & Views
- Toshiba to Bundle OneNote 2003 on All Notebooks

3. Announcements
- Active Directory eBook Chapter 4 Published!
- Decision Point: Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003?

4. Resources
- Tip: Problems with Scheduled Tasks on Patched Windows XP Computers
- Featured Thread: Windows 2000 Networking with Workgroups

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

6. New and Improved
- Inventory Your Heterogeneous Environment
- Monitor and Control Remote Computers
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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

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==== 1. Commentary: Chasing the Wind: Automatic Software Updating ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

Once again, I've been reminded about how big the knowledge gap is between those of us who support computers on a daily basis and those who use computers as the office tools they're meant to be. One thing I do to stay involved with end-user concerns is provide gratis technical support for several small nonprofit organizations in my area. These organizations range in size from 3 to 25 computers and use a broad enough mix of OSs and applications to give me a good idea about what's going on in the more generic end-user community that I usually work with.

I've done my best to protect these organizations from external attacks by keeping their firewalls heavily locked down and making sure that their antivirus scan programs are in place and regularly updated. I accomplish most of my support remotely, by dialing in to an organization's network and working with one or two people on site whom I trust to follow my directions for fixing or maintaining computers and solving day-to-day problems that require a human's presence. I still make it a practice to stop by each office approximately every 4 to 6 weeks, even if everything seems to be going fine.

I got on the phone with all of these organizations when the MSBlaster and SoBig viruses were making their initial rounds. I made certain that every one of these organization's users who had a susceptible computer had downloaded the latest hotfixes, that each organization's antivirus software had been updated, and that each organization's network and users were neither the originators nor the targets of any attacks. Everyone I talked to apparently followed my advice, because none of these organizations reported any problems from those last two major virus outbreaks.

Finding some free time in my schedule last week, I visited each of these organizations over the course of a few days. Much to my chagrin, I found that almost no user who was running Windows XP--and the number of these users translates to more than 100 end-user computers--had ever bothered to click the system tray icon that told them that new updates were ready to be installed. All these users had followed the instructions I had given when I talked to them about the major virus attacks, but because no one had given explicit directions about software updates, these users hadn't bothered to install the post-big-attack fixes that Microsoft released.

I made a decision to do something I once thought I would never suggest. I walked all of these users through configuring Automatic Updates to download and install updates on a specified schedule, without prompting. Although this capability is built into XP's Automatic Updates feature, I prefer to be notified before the updates are installed so that I can see what's going on. I realized that none of these users would have a clue about what the update descriptions mean, but I would rather have to fix a computer that crashes because of an update than deal with the consequences of a virus set loose because of an unpatched security bug.

Configuring the new settings wasn't as simple as I hoped. Many of the computers I wanted to reconfigure were turned off at the end of the workday, which meant that setting updates to install at 3:00 a.m. wasn't an option. So, I decided to configure updates to install at lunchtime, when I could be reasonably certain that each computer would be switched on, and when I hoped that if a reboot was required, it would intrude minimally in the user's workday.

A better mechanism for making sure that business systems are patched and updated is yet to be created. However, through working with people who neither know nor care about how their computers work, as opposed to marginally knowledgeable business users, I've gained a certain appreciation for the obstacles that stand in the way of designing a patching system suitable for all users.

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

Toshiba to Bundle OneNote 2003 on All Notebooks

Late Tuesday, Microsoft and Toshiba announced that Toshiba will bundle Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 on all of its notebook products worldwide beginning October 21, when the Microsoft Office System is launched. OneNote 2003 is Microsoft's new Office application for note taking and organizing. Although OneNote 2003 is a member of the Microsoft Office System, the application will only be made available as a standalone purchase.

"We feel OneNote will add tremendous value to our mobile PCs as tools for collecting and managing information," said Atsutoshi Nishida, Toshiba director and corporate executive vice president. "For that reason, we've taken the rare step of including one specific application in all of our portables worldwide. Our mutual customers will be the real beneficiaries of our collaboration to bring digital note-taking capabilities to the notebook and Tablet PC experience."

Microsoft expressed delight with the bundling plan. "As a recognized leader in the portable PC market, \[Toshiba\] is in a unique position to deliver OneNote to the mobile user," said Jeff Raikes, Microsoft group vice president of Productivity and Business Services. "We see OneNote as an integral part of the Microsoft Office System--almost indispensable among mobile workers, students, and anyone else who takes notes. By preinstalling OneNote on its laptops and Tablet PCs, Toshiba recognizes this value and, out of the box, provides PC users with a portable machine that is powerful and productive."

OneNote, which began life as a project named "Scribbler," was first announced by Microsoft Chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates at COMDEX Fall 2002 in Las Vegas. The software is designed to match the ways in which different types of users make, catalog, search, and organize notes. OneNote offers text, audio, and, with a Tablet PC, handwritten note-taking capabilities.

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

Active Directory eBook Chapter 4 Published!

The fourth chapter of Windows & .NET Magazine's popular eBook "Windows 2003: Active Directory Administration Essentials" is now available at no charge! Chapter 4 looks at what's inside Windows Server 2003 forests and DNS. Download it now!

Decision Point: Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003?

Is now the time to move to Windows Server 2003? Learn answers to this question and much more at Windows & .NET Magazine Connections. To stay competitive in your job, you need to invest your time to keep pace with the latest technologies, tips, and tricks. Register now and receive free access to the concurrently running Exchange Connections.

==== 4. Resources ====

Tip: Problems with Scheduled Tasks on Patched Windows XP Computers
contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

I've noticed an occasional problem with scheduled tasks on older Windows XP computers that have been upgraded from Windows 2000 Professional. On these computers, after you apply a service pack or hotfix, the scheduled tasks that you previously configured might no longer run. I haven't been able to find anything in the Microsoft Knowledge Base that refers to this problem, so I'm not certain what causes the behavior. However, you can take a few steps to fix the problem.

The first step is to delete and recreate the scheduled tasks. Doing so will sometimes fix the problem, but if it doesn't, you'll need to go on to the second step.

The second step is to delete the scheduled tasks, then uninstall the last hotfix or service pack you applied. Reboot, reinstall the hotfix or service pack you removed, then recreate the scheduled tasks. This usually solves the problem. However, if your scheduled tasks still don't run, you'll need to take a third step.

Step three is to delete your scheduled tasks, then roll back all hotfixes and service packs in the order in which you applied them. Work your way back from the last hotfix or service pack you applied to the first hotfix or service pack you applied. Then, reapply all the hotfixes and service packs you removed and recreate your scheduled tasks. If the tasks still don't run, you might need to roll all the way back to the unpatched version of your OS, delete all scheduled tasks, reapply all hotfixes and service packs, then recreate the scheduled tasks. Fortunately, in my experience, going to this length is rarely necessary.

Featured Thread: Windows 2000 Networking with Workgroups

Forum member jeremylee is looking for the best alternative method of setting up a secure network for his out-of-office users. No domain is set up in his office because the office's authenticating server runs on Novell NetWare. Windows-based applications run on Windows 2000 Server. Jeremy has set up network shares with the Guest account enabled so that users in the field can access specific folders on network machines without having to enter logon information or a password. He would like to know whether there are other methods of authenticating to a Win2K machine without calling a prompt for a username and password. Jeremy knows that he can set up a user account for each staff member on every machine in the network. However, he'd like to avoid having to update every computer when users change their password on their local machine.

==== 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]

Inventory Your Heterogeneous Environment

iInventory released iInventory 6.0, software that monitors software license compliance and inventories Windows, Macintosh, and Linux desktops. You install iInventory on one Windows computer and create small, portable inventory agents to run on the other desktops on your network through email, LAN, WAN, login script, Internet, intranet, or floppy disk. You can use iInventory's built-in reports, or you can import the data iInventory collects into a Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL Server database so that you can use the database's query and reporting functions. The software's change-tracking capability lets you identify changes made between iInventory audits. Pricing starts at $18.20 per seat for an 11-seat license. Contact iInventory at 866-482-8348 or [email protected]

Monitor and Control Remote Computers

Deep Software announced Activity Monitor 3.0, software that monitors computer activity on Windows networks. Activity Monitor lets you view user activity on remote computers, including typed keystrokes and visits to Web sites. You can view and terminate running processes, start programs and execute program commands, start up or shut down systems, log off users, copy files, and send instant messages. Activity Monitor can record all monitored activity in a log file. The program lets you display a warning message to monitored users describing your company's computer-use policies. Activity Monitor 3.0 runs on Windows XP/2000/NT/98. Pricing for a 5-computer license is $89.95. Contact Deep Software at [email protected]

Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about the product, and we'll send you a Windows & .NET Magazine T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to [email protected]

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

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