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May 21, 2002—In this issue:
- When Alternatives Make Sense
2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
- Microsoft Remedy Trial: Judge Warns Microsoft It Must Comply
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
- Another Internet Explorer Update
- The Critical Notification Client
- SQL Server Magazine—Get Your Free Preview Issue
- Print Manager Plus Recovers Wasted Printing Costs, Eases Administration
5. HOT RELEASE (ADVERTISEMENT)
- Free Download - Control PCs over the Internet!
6. INSTANT POLL
- Results of Previous Poll: Web Administration Duties
- New Instant Poll: Licensing 6.0
- Featured Thread: Preventing Certain Services from Running on Certain Log-ons
- Tip: Disable IE's Search Assistant
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Simplify Network Management Tasks
- Citrix Design Guide Hits the Shelves
9. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
This July, Microsoft will relaunch its controversial Licensing 6.0 program, which I first discussed in October 2001. Licensing 6.0 will provide corporations with a subscription-style pricing structure that can be less expensive for companies that regularly upgrade their Windows and Microsoft Office versions. However, for companies that perform less-frequent upgrades—a more common scenario, I believe—Licensing 6.0 could be significantly more expensive than Microsoft's previous licensing program.
Open Source proponents argue that Licensing 6.0 is an opening for Linux, citing that platform's low cost, reliability, and increasing prowess in both desktop and server applications and services. However, the situation is too complicated for most enterprises to replace Windows with an Open Source solution. Indeed, replacing Windows is not much of a solution at all; the real problem with Licensing 6.0 isn't Windows per se, but the cost of constant upgrading.
When Microsoft first postponed the program last October, a Giga Information Group and Sunbelt Software survey found that more than 80 percent of technology professionals had negative feelings about Licensing 6.0 because it would increase costs. And more than 35 percent of survey respondents said they were considering Microsoft alternatives.
But Microsoft alternatives aren't necessarily limited to the underlying platform. We use Windows on the server and desktop for very specific reasons, and if the feedback I received from the April 30 UPDATE commentary "Maybe It's Time for a New Platform" at http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=25037 is any indication, few Windows customers are interested in replacing their platform; after all, the point is to avoid the upgrade treadmill and save money, not take a religious platform stand.
For many businesses, the cost of Microsoft Office is far greater than the cost of Windows, and this, I suspect, is the rationale behind Licensing 6.0. Windows customers tend to stay one generation behind the current version (i.e., most users are still deploying Windows 2000 rather than Windows XP on their desktops), whereas Office customers tend to stay two generations behind the current version (Office 97 is still the most deployed Office version today.) If Microsoft can get its customers to upgrade on a regular basis—every 2 years, thanks to Licensing 6.0—the company can report more Windows and Office license sales each year and, perhaps more importantly, maintain a steady and predictable income rate. Currently, the company must hope that customers see enough benefit in new software versions to warrant an upgrade, creating sales spikes amid long periods of downtime.
But office suites, unlike OSs, are fairly mature and haven't changed much over the past several years. I suspect that most people stay with Office because of computer package deals and inertia, but the underlying reason is file-format compatibility. And until recently, few credible challengers offered good Office file-format compatibility, making such competition moot in the eyes of most decision makers.
However, the release of Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 6.0 has dramatically changed the situation. And if you're interested in saving money while achieving a high level of Office file-format compatibility, this product might be what you're looking for. From a price standpoint, StarOffice hits the "suite" spot, with a $75.95 cost for a single package that you can install on as many as five machines. Purchase a volume license, however, and the cost sinks as low as $50 per five machines. And that price includes full product support from Sun and, in the case of the retail packaging, a surprisingly hefty paper-based manual—something that's been missing from Office since about 1995.
StarOffice offers what Sun describes as the 80 percent of Office's features that most people need. The package includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, business graphics, and desktop database applications, and surprisingly good compatibility with Office document types, including Word's Track Changes feature—a first for any alternative office suite.
Sun is realistic about its chances for replacing Office across the board, and the company doesn't blindly recommend that enterprises "rip and replace" Office. Instead, companies can evaluate which users need specific features in Microsoft's Office suite and then deploy StarOffice to the 80 to 85 percent of the remaining workforce—the so-called typical users. Thanks to document-type compatibility, users will be able to easily transfer data between the two suites. And because StarOffice looks and acts like a typical office suite, users won't require any special training. One problem, however, is StarOffice's lack of an email or personal information manager (PIM) package; previous versions include such a component but Sun found that few users were interested.
If you're not sure about StarOffice, check out its Open Source cousin, OpenOffice.org 1.0, which is available for free download from the Web ( http://www.openoffice.org ). OpenOffice.org is the foundation for StarOffice, although the freeware lacks some commercial features found in StarOffice, such as the database, the commercial spell-checking component (although it includes an Open Source replacement), WordPerfect document-type compatibility, and of course, Sun support. Otherwise, the two products are virtually identical, and OpenOffice.org can give you an excellent StarOffice preview.
In short, your software decisions will boil down to cost—including the upfront cost, ongoing upgrade costs, and training costs—as well as compatibility, reliability, and stability. With an increasing body of viable Microsoft alternatives, we can expect to benefit from lower prices, better features, and more choices. In the meantime, check out the competition: You might be surprised.
Windows XP SP1
Next week, I'll have extensive information about Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) and why enterprises will want to apply this upgrade as soon as it becomes available. Look for XP SP1 in Q3 2002.
Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]
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2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly warned Microsoft Friday that it must comply with any rulings she imposes as punishment for the company's antitrust violations. Her rebuke came on the final day of hearings to determine whether the judge will consider any of the strong remedies that nine nonsettling states and the District of Columbia recommended. For the whole story, visit the following URL:
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
(contributed by Paula Sharick, [email protected])
Microsoft released a cumulative update for Internet Explorer (IE) on March 28, and believe it or not, this 6-week old version is now obsolete. Microsoft replaced this cumulative update with yet another cumulative update dated May 15. The latest IE update addresses six new vulnerabilities, most of which are cryptic and difficult to exploit, and disables frame functionality for all sites in IE's Restricted Zones list. After you install the update, Microsoft Outlook will be unable to open a new HTML window or automatically start a download when you read HTML-based email from a site on the restricted list.
You can download the update at the URL below, and you'll need to reboot your machine to replace open files with the modified files in the download. After you install this package, Hfnetchk and the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) report that they can't verify that you've installed the March 28 cumulative update. Because the May 15 update is also cumulative, Microsoft can eliminate this unnecessary audit flag by replacing the March 28 security entry in the online mssecure.xml catalog with name and version data for the May 15 release.
If you like Windows XP's automatic update feature, you can duplicate this live update functionality on Windows 2000 and Windows 98 systems by installing version 3.0 of the Critical Update Notification client. For details, visit the following URL:
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)
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6. INSTANT POLL
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "How much of your job involves Web administration?" Here are the results (+/-2 percent) from the 210 votes:
- 5% Nearly 100%
- 3% About 75%
- 8% About 50%
- 39% About 25%
- 46% 0%
The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you think Microsoft's new Licensing 6.0 program will lower overall upgrade costs for your organization?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, it will lower upgrade costs, b) No, it will raise upgrade costs, c) It won't change our upgrade costs, d) Don't know, or e) We don't use Microsoft products.
Thomas wants to prevent some services from running when he logs on as a certain user. He has a Windows XP Professional system with a typical user account and a stripped down gaming account. He wants to free up some RAM by eliminating some services that are useless to this account. Can you help? Join the discussion at the following URL:
(contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com)
Q. How can I disable the search assistant in Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0?
A. IE 6.0 contains a new search tool that Microsoft designed to provide a friendlier, easier search experience. However, if you prefer the old search tool, perform the following steps:
- Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
- Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main subkey.
- Double-click the Use Search Asst value (or create this value of type String if it doesn't exist).
- Close the registry editor.
in the "Value data" field to use the old search tool, and click OK.
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Bob Kretschman, [email protected])
ScriptLogic announced ScriptLogic 4.0 network management software. Among the new features of ScriptLogic 4.0 is multiple profile support, which splits configurations into smaller configuration profiles; logoff/shut-down scripting, which can launch applications or scripts when a user logs off or shuts down a computer; and Run As Administrator, which lets you deliver administrative-level changes across the network during the logon or logoff process. ScriptLogic runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Me, and Win9x. Pricing starts at $350 for a 10-seat license. For more information, contact ScriptLogic at 954-861-2300, 866-727-4785, or on the Web.
Author and publisher Brian Madden announced the publication of "Citrix MetaFrame XP: Advanced Technical Design Guide," which provides details about all aspects of MetaFrame XP environments, including farm design, printing, application installation, security, licensing, NFuse, load management, coexistence with MetaFrame 1.8, and integration with Novell. The author is a Citrix Certified Enterprise Administrator who has designed and implemented several large MetaFrame environments. The book costs $29.99. For more information, contact Brian Madden at 202-302-3657 or on the Web.
9. CONTACT US
Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:
- ABOUT THE COMMENTARY — [email protected]
- ABOUT KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT — [email protected]
- ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL — [email protected]
(please mention the newsletter name in the subject line)
- TECHNICAL QUESTIONS — http://www.winnetmag.net/forums
- PRODUCT NEWS — [email protected]
- QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE SUBSCRIPTION?
Customer Support — winnetm[email protected]
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