Inside Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE--The Year of the Laptop--December 31, 2003

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1. Commentary: 2003: The Year of the Laptop

2. What's New in the Online Article Archive

July 2003 Issue
- Focus: Windows Storage: Today and Beyond
- Plan It
- Solve It

3. Announcements
- Receive a Free Identity Management White Paper!
- 2004 Dates Announced: Connections Conferences

4. What's New in the Latest Issue

January 2004 Issue
- Focus: Active Directory
- Editorial
- Need to Know
- Buyer's Guide
- Market Watch

5. Event
- New--Microsoft Security Strategies Roadshow!

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

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==== 1. 2003: The Year of the Laptop ====

by Mark Minasi, Senior Contributing Editor, [email protected]

When all's said and done about the year 2003, what will we remember and remark upon? Sure, Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, and Microsoft Office 2003 shipped--which is certainly important in the Microsoft world. But I haven't heard much talk about what might be the most important development of 2003: As of May 2003, laptop computers outsold desktop computers.

This turnabout occurred for several reasons. First and most important, laptop screens are now as readable as desktop screens (Does anyone remember that awful Data General laptop screen in the mid-80s?) After sleek flat-panel LCD displays started replacing the big, heavy, heat-producing desktop CRTs, laptop domination was just a matter of time. If you're using Windows XP on an LCD display, you've probably already discovered one of the best reasons to have an LCD instead of a CRT--Microsoft's ClearType display technology. (And if you're one of the many who haven't enabled ClearType, right-click your Desktop, choose Properties, click the Appearance tab, then click the Effects button. In the resulting dialog box, choose ClearType under the "Use the following method..." label. Using ClearType technology is like discovering a focus knob for your display.)

Second, laptops have grown past the "you can't expand them" complaint. In general, laptops come well-packed with features, with once-exotic technologies such as wired and wireless networking now standard with many models. And anyone who wants to add hard disks, CD-ROM or DVD burners, or other add-ons will find USB 2.0 and FireWire ports standard on today's laptops.

Let's compare laptops and desktops with respect to economics, aesthetics, and reliability. As to economics, laptops use significantly less power than desktops. The laptop that I'm using to write this commentary has a 1920 x 1200 resolution screen, a 1.7 GHz processor, 1.5GB of RAM, an 80GB hard disk, and it draws no more than 20 watts of power. In contrast, my desktop PC, with a 1600 x 1200 resolution LCD display, a 200GB hard disk, 1.5GHz processor, and 512MB of RAM draws about 70 watts. Furthermore, if the desktop PC still used my old CRT display, the entire system power draw would run about 110 to 120 watts. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but in the United States, we keep buying more and more electronic gizmos, thus increasing the demand for electricity, but we don't want anyone building a power plant in our backyards; thank heavens our neighbors to the north have plenty of hydro-generated electricity that they're eager to sell to us! Any technological change that can potentially drop a common appliance's power draw from 120 watts to 20 watts is good news. (By the way, if you're wondering how I measured the wattage, look at a great product from P3 International ( called KILL A WATT. It's a plug-in meter that shows you how many volts, amps, and watts a device uses and costs about $35.)

On the aesthetic side, I enjoy getting my desktop back, and here I mean "desktop" in the furniture sense. PCs have been taking over my entire desktop for years, and having a computer that I can simply close and put away or stuff into my bag and take with me is downright charming.

But I'm not suggesting that the desktop computer is dead. For one thing, desktop models remain far more expandable than laptops. Many folks love having multiple video boards in their desktops, letting them spread their work over two or three monitors. Laptops don't offer that capability, although XP lets you create an extra "virtual video board" for connecting to an external monitor. The largest 2.5" (i.e., laptop-sized) drive that I'm aware of is 80GB in capacity, and available desktop-sized drives are far larger than that. And although finding a desktop with 4GB of RAM is easy, the most RAM a laptop can take is 2GB.

As far as I can tell, a laptop's largest down-side is reliability. I'm a big fan of self-correcting RAM or Error-Correcting Code (ECC) RAM. Putting gigabytes of RAM into a system and expecting none of that RAM's billions of transistors to ever fail, even momentarily, isn't reasonable. So for more than a decade, Intel systems have been able to accommodate RAM that monitors itself and automatically detects and corrects small errors. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any laptop vendors that have included the circuitry to support ECC RAM.

Some day, desktops will be unusual sights, visible only in places where people need the maximum computing power possible. But until the laptop's capacities and reliability match that of a desktop PC, laptops won't supplant the need for a desktop variety. But I suspect that day won't be long in coming.


==== 2. What's New in the Online Article Archive ====

July 2003 Issue
To access this issue of Windows & .NET Magazine, go to the following URL:

Focus: Windows Storage: Today and Beyond
Windows Server 2003 includes storage administration tools, such as Virtual Disk Service and Volume Shadow Copy Service, that make IT professionals' jobs easier. Also in this issue, we explore the fusion of NAS and SAN technologies.

Plan It

Fast Forward: In Search of .NET
Microsoft .NET evangelist Adam Sohn reveals ways in which Microsoft is implementing the .NET Framework in its internal applications.
--Mark Smith

Lessons Learned: Merging Networks the Hard Way
Evaluating the IT standards of potential corporate acquisitions is a simple practice that can pay enormous dividends.
--David Chernicoff

Solve It

Inside Out: Move User Profiles
Need to restore a profile from backup or transfer a profile from an old computer to a new one? You have three options, but here's the best method.
--Mark Minasi

Windows Client: Using IntelliMirror to Manage User Data and Settings
This technology's set of tools lets you create a comprehensive user data and settings management solution.
--Ed Roth

Getting Started with Windows Administration: Understanding DC Roles
Learn how to assign roles for maximal network performance.
--Kathy Ivens

Best Practices for Exchange: Securing SMTP Email Traffic
Using SSL alone to secure SMTP has drawbacks. Add Transport Layer Security, and you'll go a long way toward securing your email.
--Paul Robichaux

Scripting Solutions: Check for and Create User Accounts Programmatically
Writing a script that checks for and creates user accounts might seem daunting. Here's an approach to make the task straightforward.
--Christa Anderson

Top 10: Tips for Wireless Security
The 802.11b protocol's biggest shortcoming is its lack of security. Follow these tips to prevent holes in your WLAN.
--Michael Otey

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==== 3. Announcements ====
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

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2004 Dates Announced: Connections Conferences
Save these dates: Windows & .NET Magazine Connections will be held April 4-7, 2004, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Microsoft ASP.NET Connections, Visual Studio Connections, and SQL Server Magazine Connections will run concurrently on April 18-21, 2004, in Orlando, Florida. Early registrants will receive the best discounts, so go online or call 203-268-3204 or 800-505-1201 to register.


==== Hot Release: MR&D ====
Become an Active Directory black belt with Mark's "Running a 2003/2000-based Active Directory" seminar, or develop XP support eXPertise at "XP Professional for Support Professionals." Or just get his FREE networking techie newsletter at

==== 4. What's New in the Latest Issue ====

January 2004 Issue

Focus: Active Directory
Now's the time to reap some of the benefits Microsoft promised AD would bring. Take easing the doldrums of printer support, for example. Publish printer information in AD to enable users to find printer resources without any help from IT and more.


Plug the Mobile Worm Hole
Defend your network! Mobile systems demand more than just perimeter security.
--Michael Otey

Need to Know

What You Need to Know About Update Rollup 1 for Microsoft Windows XP
Microsoft released Update Rollup 1 to protect XP systems in the interim between now and XP SP2's release in 2004.
--Paul Thurrott

What You Need to Know About Windows Mobile 2003
Windows Mobile 2003 offers performance and connectivity improvements for Pocket PC and smart phone devices.
--Paul Thurrott

What You Need to Know About Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003
InfoPath builds on industry-standard XML to provide knowledge workers a familiar tool they can use to create and work with data.
--Paul Thurrott

Buyer's Guide

Change and Configuration Management Tools
If you administer a large environment, these Change and Configuration Management tools will make your life simpler.
--Jeremy Moskowitz

Change and Configuration Management for AD
AD's out-of-the-box auditing capabilities come up short when you require advanced functionality. Step beyond basic AD auditing with these tools.
--Jeremy Moskowitz

Market Watch

64-Bit Servers
If you haven't migrated to a 64-bit platform, these servers driven by powerful new 64-bit processors from AMD and Intel will provide compelling reasons to reconsider.
--Mark Weitz

==== 5. Event ==== (brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

New--Microsoft Security Strategies Roadshow!
We've teamed with Microsoft, Avanade, and Network Associates to bring you a full day of training to help you get your organization secure and keep it secure. You'll learn how to implement a patch-management strategy; lock down servers, workstations, and network infrastructure; and implement security policy management. Register now for this free, 20-city tour.

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==== 6. Contact Us ====

About the newsletter -- [email protected] About technical questions -- About product news -- [email protected] About your subscription -- [email protected] About sponsoring UPDATE -- eme[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.

Copyright 2004, Penton Media, Inc.

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