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Windows Client UPDATE--Here's A New Year's Resolution for Vendors--January 5, 2006

Windows Client UPDATE--Here's A New Year's Resolution for Vendors--January 5, 2006

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1. Commentary
- A New Year's Resolution for Vendors: Trim the Fat

2. Reader Challenge
- December 2005 Reader Challenge Winners
- January 2006 Challenge

3. News & Views
- CES 2006: Gates Pushes Consumer Wares

4. Resources
- Tip: What to do When Your Wireless Connection Drops You
- Featured Blog: Sober Worm Will Trigger on January 6

5. New and Improved
- Accelerate, Protect, and Monitor Windows PCs
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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1. Commentary: Here's A New Year's Resolution for Vendors: Trim the Fat
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

As any IT pro who supports end users knows, the question, "Why does my computer take so long to boot up?" is a common one. The surprising thing is that at this time of year, I hear this question from lots of folks who have purchased brand new computers and have yet to install any software on them.

I've seen many a brand-new computer that takes close to 5 minutes to completely boot; the amount of stuff that gets loaded into memory by default on these machines can be simply mind-boggling. This situation results from vendors' desire to compel users to use as many of the vendors' products as possible.

A quick look at a few new small office/home office (SOHO) and consumer-targeted computers that are sitting around my office validates my position. One of these machines loads more than 40 non-OS-required pieces of software while the user waits for the console to come up. A few of these tools are necessities, such as antivirus and antispyware software, but even so, the versions loaded are rarely stripped down for performance. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case: There are lots of attendant accessories and features that the average user will never use or need.

A recent experience with setting up brand new notebooks for my children had me spending about 2 hours per machine uninstalling all sorts of fundamentally useless applications and tools and replacing them with licensed versions of utilities and software that I knew my kids would use (or that would work without their continued input; an important feature for crucial tools such as antivirus and antispyware programs). I was particularly annoyed by the AOL uninstaller, which, when I attempted to remove the "free" AOL software, caused the blue screen of death on both computers, forcing me to remove all of the AOL components manually.

Yesterday, I found myself doing the same thing for an adult friend who asked for assistance getting her new computer and wireless network connection up and running. She is an educated professional with a Ph.D. in the neurosciences, yet the most she could figure out was that she didn't need all of the icons that say "Install Me!" However, she knew that there had to be some way to get the computer to boot more quickly.

Because I prefer to educate rather than simply function as unpaid tech support, I walked her through what I was doing and what I was uninstalling as I worked on her computer. As I launched the system configuration utility (msconfig.exe), I pointed out the items that we found under the Startup tab, explaining what they were and why (or why not) they needed to be there. I then took her to the Startup folder and pointed out that, although there were useful applications being launched, most of them didn't need to be launched at startup. I also explained that deleting the shortcuts found in this folder didn't delete the applications, and I showed her where to find the applications so she could use them as needed.

The problem, of course, is that I shouldn't have had to do this. Vendors who attempt to make as many applications available as possible should include clear instructions for their removal, or simply make such applications available on a companion CD-ROM. Instead, they clutter up the desktop by cramming it with every possible application, many of which conflict with one another or offer duplicate ways of doing the same thing.

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2. Reader Challenge
by Kathy Ivens, [email protected]

December 2005 Reader Challenge Winners
Congratulations to the winners of our December 2005 Reader Challenge.
First prize, a copy of "Windows Server 2003 Network Administration" (O’Reilly & Associates Publishing) goes to John Saurer of Kentucky.
Second prize, a copy of "Running QuickBooks in Nonprofits" (CPA911 Publishing), goes to Christian E. Devery of Maine.

January 2006 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 January 18, 2006. You must include your full name and street mailing address (without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win, so your answer is eliminated even if it’s correct).
I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I’m a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for a receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem at on January 19, 2006.

The January 2006 Challenge:

All columnists and contributing editors at Windows IT Pro magazine receive tons of e-mail from administrators looking for answers. Many of those email messages make good Challenges for this column. Here are two email queries I received recently. Can you answer these readers' questions?

Question 1:
I've been an administrator for many years, managing enterprises that use several network OSs. One consistent problem over the years is that users tend to save all downloads and files they've copied from other computers or other drives on the root of the C drive. In my Novell NetWare days, I knew that you couldn’t have more than 512 files on the root drive of a 16-bit OS. What are the file number limits for FAT32 and NTFS systems?

Question 2:
I'm filling out a job application and one of the questions asks whether I have any experience with administering a CAN. What the heck is a CAN?

==== 3. News & Views ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

CES 2006: Gates Pushes Consumer Wares
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

During his 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote address yesterday, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates touted a number of his company's consumer-oriented products and services, showed off new consumer Windows Vista features, previewed new portable Media Centers and other devices. Read more about the Gates keynote address, as well as Paul's daily CES blog at the following URL:

==== Events and Resources ====
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==== 4. Resources ====

Tip: What to do When Your Wireless Connection Drops You
(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])

A problem that I often hear users complain about is that their wireless connection to their network drops for no apparent reason; then, as soon as they start trying to do something about it, the connection comes back, leaving them annoyed and frustrated. Although there's at least one documented cause of this problem, there's also a classic Windows solution: Remove the problem child and reinstall. In this case, delete the wireless network from the list of known networks (found in the Properties dialog for the network connection on the Wireless Networks tab), allow Windows to rediscover the network, then add it back to your list of preferred networks with whatever properties you like. This solves the problem in most cases. But if the wireless connection is dropping because it expects authentication and none is available, open Control Panel, launch the Network Connections applet, right-click the wireless connection, and click Properties. On the Authentication tab, clear the "Enable IEEE 802.1x authentication" checkbox, click Apply, and exit the applet. This operation stops the connection from searching for an authentication server that likely doesn't exist, and prevents the computer from dropping the connection.

Featured Blog: Sober Worm Will Trigger on January 6
Are you prepared for this worm? It's due to trigger tomorrow. Mark Joseph Edwards tells you what you need to know in his latest posting to the Security Matters blog at the following URL:

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==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Dianne Russell, [email protected]

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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 IT Pro T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows IT Pro What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to [email protected]

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