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Windows Client UPDATE--WPA Surprises--October 28, 2004

Windows Client UPDATE--WPA Surprises--October 28, 2004

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1. Commentary: WPA Surprises

2. News & Views

- Adobe and Yahoo! Link Web Services

3. Resources

- Tip: Turn Off Windows XP SP2's Security Center Alerts

- Featured Thread: Two VPN Clients on One PC

4. New and Improved

- Consolidate Administration of Windows, UNIX, and Linux

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

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==== 1. Commentary: WPA Surprises ====

by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

Windows Product Activation (WPA) is rarely a hot topic anymore, but I recently had two interesting experiences with it. What makes them interesting is that they were just the opposite of what I expected to happen. I should mention that I've had few problems with WPA since it was implemented, and the current automated phone system solved all but one, which required human intervention because of the differences between retail licenses and the license provided with a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription.

The first recent problem was with a friend's computer, which I had put together for her side business--a small nonprofit organization. Over time, her system became infested with malware and spyware, and I decided that a complete reinstallation was the best solution. She dropped the computer at my house along with the disks I'd originally provided with it, including the retail OS and application CDs. I had burned a combination CD-ROM for Windows XP that included Service Pack 2 (SP2), and using that disk with the retail copy's product activation key wasn't a problem.

What did develop into a problem, though, was the activation of Microsoft Office XP. Despite the fact that it was the same copy that was originally installed on the same hardware, the copy wouldn't activate over the Internet or through the automated phone system. I had to talk to someone at the activation center and tell him that the software was installed only on this computer. I double-checked with my friend, who said that the disks had remained in the envelope I gave her and that the software hadn't been installed anywhere else. I had no reason to doubt her, yet WPA required re-activation after I reinstalled the same retail copy of Office XP on the same hardware.

The second situation happened when my primary desktop computer died last week. It gave a brief beep, then shut itself off. I was in the middle of finishing a major project, and all my research notes were on the computer that died. A quick video-card swap didn't solve the problem, so I was off to the local computer store to pick up a newer Intel motherboard and the best dollar-value CPU I could find (a Pentium 4 2.8GHz HT). Neither the motherboard nor the CPU were cutting edge, but both were a couple of steps up from the motherboard/CPU combination they would replace. (Betting that the old motherboard's memory wasn't the problem, I reused it in the new motherboard.)

I spent about 20 minutes pulling the old motherboard, swapping in the new one, reinstalling the various bus cards and video adapter, and reconnecting all the disks. I booted the new hardware, and Windows XP spent the next 20 minutes finding and reinstalling all the video drivers, system-board drivers, and the peripherals and drives I'd attached to the box via USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394. When that process finished, Windows XP rebooted once more and I was up and running with a noticeably faster computer. Much to my surprise, WPA didn't require me to reactivate the OS, despite the presence of a new CPU and motherboard.

This was the simplest major hardware upgrade I've ever done. Everything worked correctly the first time, and Windows XP was perfectly happy with the hardware changes, adapting to them without difficulty and handling the reconfiguration with nary a complaint. But I was surprised that I didn't need to reactivate the OS. Should I hear from Microsoft about why that was the case, I'll let you know what I learn.

Remember to test your Active Directory (AD) and Group Policy skills against your peers in the IT Prolympics. The gold medalist will win an all-expense-paid trip to TechEd 2005, and all three winners will be featured in the January issue of Windows IT Pro. To sign up for the competition, go to -- you have until November 26 to compete.


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==== 2. News & Views ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Yahoo! and Adobe Link Web Services

Web giant Yahoo! and the document and imaging experts at Adobe are teaming up to provide integrated online searching and services. Under terms of the agreement, Adobe will distribute with Adobe Reader a specially customized version of Yahoo!'s free Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) search toolbar, and Yahoo! will provide functionality in the toolbar that will let customers save Web pages in Adobe's PDF format.

To read the entire article, click the following URL:

==== Announcements ====

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Free Exchange Server 2003 eBook--Chapter 7 Now Available

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==== 3. Resources ====

Tip: Turn Off Windows XP SP2's Security Center Alerts

(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])

A reader asked me how to turn off Windows XP's annoying Security Center alerts, which nag you when you don't have your firewall, automatic updates, or antivirus software configured the way that XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) prefers. Many readers have mentioned the alerts to me, and I recently encountered them myself when I had to reconfigure one of my desktops. The alerts can be annoying because they pop up even when your computer is protected--for example, even if you're behind a strong firewall or are running an antivirus solution that isn't recognized by the Security Center application. But turning off those alerts is simple.

1. Open Control Panel.

2. Double-click the Security Center applet.

3. On the left pane labeled Resources, click the last entry on the list, "Change the way Security Center alerts me."

4. In the Alert Settings dialog box, clear the checkbox next to the alert you don't want to receive.

5. Click OK.

Featured Thread: Two VPN Clients on One PC

Forum member "philvong" uses a Symantec VPN client on one network and wants to install a Cisco VPN client for a different network on the same Windows XP machine. However, XP tells him that he needs to uninstall the Symantec client before he can install the Cisco client. If you've been able to install two VPN clients on one machine or have ideas that might help, click the URL below to join the discussion.

==== Events Central ====

(A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows IT Pro:

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==== 4. New and Improved ====

by Barb Gibbens, [email protected]

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Vintela announces Vintela Authentication Services (VAS) 2.6, an upgrade to its software product that provides integrated identity management, centralized logon, and single sign-on (SSO) for Windows, UNIX, and Linux systems in Active Directory (AD). New features include a software development kit (SDK) that provides UNIX APIs for integrating with AD through Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and Kerberos; cross-forest authentication; enhancements to the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in; and logon-performance improvements. For details and pricing information, see Vintela's Web site.

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