Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE--November 25, 2003

This Issue Sponsored By


PolyServe's "Shared Data" Clustering Software


1. Commentary: COMDEX 2003: The Little Big Show

2. Hot Off the Press
- Congress Passes Antispam Bill

3. Keeping Up with Win2K and NT
- Important Windows Server 2003 Bug Fixes

4. Announcements
- Quick Answers for Microsoft Small Business Server
- Are You Ready to Buy Hardware, Software, Networking Products, and Accessories?

5. Inside Windows Scripting Solutions
- December 2003 Issue
- Focus: Scripting with Command-Line Arguments and the GPMC

6. Instant Poll
- Results of Previous Poll: Spam-Filtering Solution
- New Instant Poll: Antispam Legislation

7. Resources
- Tip: How can I create an Automated System Recovery (ASR) set if my PC doesn't have a 3.5" disk drive?

8. Event
- New--Microsoft Security Road Show! 9. New and Improved
- Enhance Email Security
- Fix Registry Problems
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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

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==== 1. Commentary: COMDEX 2003: The Little Big Show ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

The COMDEX 2003 trade show was much smaller than previous editions--50,000 attendees versus 125,000 last year and more than 250,000 at its zenith--but the downsizing was partially by design, as the show's owners decided to drop all non-IT-related companies and ensure that the attendees were all in the business. The cutback was a welcome change, with a dramatically smaller show floor and much smaller crowds to wade through. However, some of the most exciting stuff at COMDEX couldn't even be seen at the show itself. Many large companies held private meetings in offsite hotel suites and conference rooms. From my perspective, COMDEX 2003 was as busy as ever--a 2-1/2 day marathon of back-to-back meetings that was both tiring and rewarding. Here are some IT-related observations from the show.

No Tech Recovery in Sight

If anything was made clear at COMDEX 2003, it was that no tech recovery is looming. As Dell CEO Michael Dell has noted several times, the companies that sell large volumes of products to enterprises, such as Dell, HP, and IBM, have seen no evidence of increased IT spending, and any rumors to the contrary should be taken with a grain of salt. Dell continues to do well primarily because the company has diversified into other product lines at the right time and brought its legendary cost-cutting acumen to those markets, lowering competitors' prices as well. In short, now is a good time to buy, but few companies are taking the bait, at least so far.

Gates Keynote

The keynote address by Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates is always the big event at COMDEX, although I'm beginning to wonder why, as Gates is a boring speaker with little stage presence. In any event, Microsoft's message of "seamless computing" was more interesting than Gates was. Basically, the message means that the PC will more effortlessly bring together people and companies. I think a more important message, frankly, is safer computing technologies. Microsoft was pushing its security work at COMDEX too, but talk is cheap. I think most customers want to see Microsoft "shut up and put up."

Microsoft SmartScreen Antispam Technology and Exchange Message Filtering Technology

As I discussed last week, Microsoft is revving its SmartScreen antispam technology for inclusion in a Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 add-on due in early 2004. The company also introduced Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004, also due next year, which, when combined with Exchange 2003 and Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, provides an interesting three-tier protective ring for Microsoft-oriented shops. Microsoft didn't explicitly explain it this way, but if I'm not mistaken, ISA 2004's new HTTP filtering capabilities will also overcome the security problems associated with accessing Exchange 2003 through Outlook 2003's new HTTP capabilities. This enhancement is helpful only if you've opted for the full Microsoft solution.

Microsoft also verified that SmartScreen is similar, but superior, to the Bayesian email-filtering technologies I've supported, and the company reported that it has several patents to back up that claim. Basically, SmartScreen is based on machine learning, in which the filters improve with experience and learn what is and isn't spam. Not coincidentally, Microsoft's Hotmail servers have provided the company with an unprecedented amount of sample email with which to work.

Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004

I covered this product last week, but having spent some time with the revision and the new hardware that PC makers are now shipping, I can honestly report for the first time that the Tablet PC has a promising future. The second-generation Tablet PC devices represent the next wave of notebook computers with powerful Pentium M processors and about twice the battery life of equivalent first-generation machines. If you've held off from purchasing a Tablet PC, it's time to look at the new generation. Accept nothing less than a Pentium M processor, and all will be well: Best of all, the upgrade to Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004, due in early 2004, is free to all Tablet PC users, so you have no reason to wait.

Windows Mobile 2003 and Smartphone 2003

I spent most of my time at COMDEX with the Windows Mobile folks, complaining about limitations in the current generation of Pocket PC/ActiveSync software. I'm planning to provide feedback to the team in an email message, so if you'd like to contribute, drop me an email message and I'll forward it along.

I did uncover some news about Microsoft's software for smart cell phones, dubbed Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone. You might be familiar with the sudden influx of Smartphone devices, a trend that will amplify over the next 12 months. What's curious is that most of these devices, in the short term, will run the previous OS version, Smartphone 2002, and not the latest release, Smartphone 2003. Clearly, the cell phone market is on a different schedule than the PC industry.

Fortunately, from an end-user perspective, there isn't a big difference between the two software releases. Basically, Smartphone 2003 adds native Bluetooth support and an integrated Windows .NET Compact Framework, both of which might have huge implications for corporate customers. But if you're looking for a Smartphone device and don't need either of these features, the software is otherwise identical.

Voice Command for Pocket PC 2003

Speaking of Windows Mobile 2003, Microsoft was also touting its new Voice Command software, which runs on Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC and Pocket PC Phone Edition and will be ported to Smartphone 2003 by early 2004. This software is particularly exciting for anyone who needs to access data on their Windows-powered portable device while performing other tasks such as walking or driving. The software adds voice command and feedback to common Pocket PC applications such as Inbox, Calendar, Contacts (and phone dialing on Phone Edition), and Windows Media Player (WMP). The software is powerful but simple, requiring no training at all. Consider Voice Command the PDA equivalent of a cell phone headset. You can purchase the software from Handango ( ).

This week, I had hoped to tackle November's Laptop of the Month, but I'm out of space. Next week, I'll look at some of the non-Microsoft technologies we saw at COMDEX 2003 and take a look at one of the best business notebooks out there, the IBM ThinkPad R50. Thanks for reading.


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==== 2. Hot Off the Press ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Congress Passes Antispam Bill
In a rare Saturday session, the US House of Representatives passed the first bill designed to protect US consumers against unwanted email, or spam, paving the way for President Bush to sign the bill into law by the end of the year. The vote for the bill passed 392 to 5 and mirrors the CAN-SPAM legislation approved by the Senate last month by a vote of 97 to 0. If accepted as law, the bills would prohibit senders of unsolicited email from disguising their identities and harvesting email addresses from the Web, while requiring them to let recipients opt out of future mass mailings.

==== 3. Keeping Up with Win2K and NT ====
by Paula Sharick, [email protected]

Important Windows Server 2003 Bug Fixes
If you're planning to deploy Windows Server 2003 for the first time, you can avoid a myriad of documented performance problems if you include the following bug fixes in the server images before you release them into production. The late October DNS update corrects a memory leak that slows performance to unacceptable levels and eliminates intermittent name-resolution failures. The interim File Replication Service (FRS) update from June corrects six bugs and introduces new functionality, including the ability to force replication from the command line. The Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) writer patch eliminates two problems that cause a multitude of services and applications that rely on shadow copies to fail. One domain controller (DC) update ensures that a DC doesn't lose Global Catalog (GC) server functionality, and a second eliminates a performance slowdown caused by a memory leak in the Local Security Authority (LSA) service. To learn the details about these fixes, visit the following URL:

==== 4. Announcements ====
(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Quick Answers for Microsoft Small Business Server
Is Small Business Server right for you? Do you need answers about how to set up Small Business Server? Learn about Small Business Server's key features, upgrade possibilities, and storage and find how-to guides, troubleshooting tips, forums, and more at Windows & .NET Magazine online.

Are You Ready to Buy Hardware, Software, Networking Products, and Accessories?
Check out the latest offerings on the IT Buyer's Network. Find clearance items and rebates, research products in the solutions library, check out reference guides, and learn about the latest technology seminar. Easily search the most up-to-date products by category and sign up to receive product information from the email newsletter.

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5. ==== Inside Windows Scripting Solutions ====

Windows Scripting Solutions is a monthly paid print newsletter loaded with news and tips to help you manage, optimize, and secure your Web-enabled enterprise. NONSUBSCRIBERS can access all the newsletter content in the online article archive from the premiere issue of Windows Scripting Solutions (December 1998) through the print issue released 1 year ago.

We've updated our Web site!
To continue bringing you the highest quality articles and information, and to make it easier for you to access our site, we have created a simple registration process that will let you access important security-related articles and other resources on the Windows & .NET Magazine Network plus receive special discounts and other benefits. When you register, you will pick a logon ID and password, tell us a little bit about yourself, and be on your way.

In addition to receiving the monthly print newsletter, SUBSCRIBERS can access all the newsletter content, including the most recent issue, at the Windows Scripting Solutions Web site ( ). Subscribe today and access all 2003 issues online!

December 2003 Issue
To access this issue of Windows Scripting Solutions, go to the following URL:

Focus: Scripting with Command-Line Arguments and the GPMC
Discover how to use command-line arguments for input to scripts and how to use GPM objects to add Group Policy permissions on AD objects. Also learn about three security changes to Windows Server 2003 WMI that affect administrators and WMI scriptwriters.

Scripting Group Policy Permissions
Learn more about the GPMC and how to use it to automate the creation and application of permissions to GPOs, SOMs, and WMI filters. - Alistair G. Lowe-Norris

==== 6. Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll: Spam-Filtering Solution
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Has your organization implemented an enterprisewide spam-filtering solution?" Here are the results from the 333 votes:
- 63% Yes
- 23% No, but we're planning to soon
- 15% No, we have no plans to implement an antispam solution

(Deviations from 100 percent are due to rounding error.)

New Instant Poll: Antispam Legislation
The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you think the proposed new antispam legislation will be an effective, enforceable solution?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, b) No, but it's a good first step, c) No, it will have little effect on spam, or d) I'll wait and see.

==== 7. Resources ====

Tip: How can I create an Automated System Recovery (ASR) set if my PC doesn't have a 3.5" disk drive?
by John Savill,

An ASR set consists of a system backup and a 3.5" disk that lists the system files that are installed on the PC. If you don't have a 3.5" disk drive on your machine, you won't be able to create the ASR disk. However, you can still create an ASR disk by performing the following steps:
1. Run the ASR Wizard, which is part of Windows Backup.
2. After you run the ASR Wizard, start Windows Explorer.
3. Navigate to the \%windir%\repair folder (e.g., C:\windows\repair).
4. Copy the asr.sif and asrpnp.sif files to a network location.
5. On a different networked computer that has a 3.5" disk drive, copy these files to a 3.5" disk and label the disk as your ASR disk.

==== 8. Event ====
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

New--Microsoft Security Road Show!
Join industry guru Mark Minasi on this exciting 20-city tour and learn more about tips to secure your Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 network. There is no charge for this event, but space is limited, so register today! Sign up now for our December events.

==== 9. New and Improved ====
by Carolyn Mader, [email protected]

Enhance Email Security
G-Lock Software released G-Lock Email Processor 1.71, software that can handle bounced email messages, messages with subscribe and remove requests, messages sent by auto responder, and virus-infected messages. You can develop a set of your own rules depending on your needs. You can set up the program to process Purchase Orders (POs). You can also filter incoming messages with specified criteria, extract data from the message body, and save the extracted data to a file. Pricing is $99 for a single-user license. Contact G-Lock Software at [email protected]

Fix Registry Problems
WinGuides released Registry Mechanic 2.1, a registry cleaner that can identify and repair registry problems. Registry Mechanic can scan your entire registry and identify missing and invalid entries. You can select which problem to clean or tell the software to automatically repair all the problems. Registry Mechanic runs on Windows XP/2000/NT/Me/9x systems and costs $19.95 for a single-user license. Contact WinGuides 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 whatsho[email protected]

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==== 10. Contact Us ====

About the newsletter -- [email protected] About technical questions -- About product news -- [email protected] About your subscription -- [email protected] About sponsoring UPDATE -- [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 2003, Penton Media, Inc.

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