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November 26, 2002—In this issue:
- Office 11, Power Management, and Laptop of the Month
2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
- Dell Enters Blade Server Market
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
- Internet Explorer Security Rollup
- SMB-Related Bug Fixes
- Domain Name Bug Fix for Win2K Servers
- Happy 10th Anniversary SQL Server!
- Give Us Your Feedback and Be Entered to Win an Xbox
5. HOT RELEASE (ADVERTISEMENTS)
- A Full-Featured and Affordable Telnet/SSH Server
6. INSTANT POLL
- Results of Previous Poll: Office Suite
- New Instant Poll: Laptops as Desktop Replacements
- Tip: Magnifier Utility Starts Automatically
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Take Notes with Your Tablet PC
- Control Remote Systems' Services and Devices
- Submit Top Product Ideas
9. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected])
Last week's commentary about Microsoft Office 11 enhancements and the state of Office deployment garnered a host of responses. I haven't sorted through the responses enough to write a comprehensive follow-up article, so this week's commentary is a hodgepodge of Office 11 and laptop information, including this month's Laptop of the Month.
More Office 11
As I mentioned last week, Microsoft faces a tough sell with Office 11, mainly because existing Office versions are already quite capable and because Office is an expensive upgrade. Regarding Office 11 and XML, at Comdex Fall 2002 last week, I discovered that Microsoft designed Office 11's XML support almost solely to support client-side XML applications called SmartDocs, which will let Office 11 documents interact with back-end XML servers. In fact, if you so desired, you could use XML as your default document format in Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, but the resulting files would generally be much larger than their proprietary document equivalents. Some of the SmartDoc demos I saw at COMDEX were quite interesting, and I'll write more about the technology in the near future.
At the risk of looking like an idiot, let me tell you about an interesting Windows XP power-management feature I just "discovered." In earlier Windows versions, PC makers often supplied an Intel SpeedStep applet with their laptop systems. The applet provides an icon in the system tray that controls how Intel's mobile processors work in certain situations. For example, a Pentium III-M processor that typically operates at 800MHz on electric current might throttle back to 500MHz when running on battery power, by default, to save battery life. The applet lets users decide whether the system's performance would dip while running on battery power, in which case, they could prevent the decrease in power.
The XP-based laptops I've reviewed haven't had this applet, but I didn't give that fact much thought until I reviewed this month's Laptop of the Month (see below). This month's laptop is a 2GHz speed demon, but its System Properties list its performance specifications as 1.2GHz or 1.5GHz, even when the machine is running on electric current. After a little research, I discovered why: XP handles Intel SpeedStep power management features through its Power Options Properties dialog box, in which you can select between power schemes such as Portable/Laptop, Home/Office Desk, and others. Most laptops are preconfigured to use the Portable/Laptop scheme (this month's laptop is no different), which you would expect would optimize performance for these types of machines.
The problem, however, is that this power scheme isn't designed to give you the full power benefits of your processor, even if the machine is plugged in. Instead, XP gauges your processing needs and ratchets the processor speed up and down as needed — thus the 1.2GHz and 1.5GHz speeds I saw in System Properties. If you want the processor to run at full speed all the time, you must select Home/Office Desk. When I selected this setting, the processor correctly reported its speed as 2GHz. Naturally, this change will affect battery life, but I found the difference that the various settings made in battery life to be negligible. You might experiment with these settings to see how they affect your battery life, or remember to change back to the Portable/Laptop mode when running your laptop on batteries. I'm curious to know how many UPDATE readers already knew about this setting — it came as a surprise to me.
Laptop of the Month
This month's Laptop of the Month is the vpr Matrix 200A5, a speed demon of epic proportions with a crowd-pleasing wide-screen display and a body that FA Porsche designed. Sold only at Best Buy retail and online locations, the 200A5 was a constant source of discussion on a recent road trip I took, with virtually everyone asking for a closer look. The machine is stunningly designed, with black and silver accents and hard edges that go against the current trend toward rounded designs.
When you open the lid of the 200A5's 15.2" wide-screen display, which runs at 1280 x 852 pixels, you almost expect George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" to start playing as the startup sound. The 200A5 features a 2GHz Pentium 4-M processor, 512MB of RAM, an NVIDIA video card, a 40GB hard disk, two FireWire ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a single PC Card slot, integrated wireless connectivity, a professional-quality sound system that needs to be hooked up to an audiophile-quality stereo system to be appreciated, and a slot-loading DVD/CD-RW drive — a rarity on PC laptops. And although the machine gets warm underneath after hours of use, it's not blisteringly hot like other desktop replacements.
Applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Excel, and Adobe PhotoShop find new life on the 200A5's wide-screen display. And because this machine is a true desktop replacement, whatever applications you run will run fast. Best of all, the 200A5's 6.5 pounds make the machine feel more like a midsized laptop than a desktop replacement, which would weigh closer to 10 pounds. I carried it around at COMDEX and didn't feel the need for shoulder surgery after the show was over. And the battery life was excellent: about 3 hours and 20 minutes on average.
The 200A5 costs $2399, which is an exceptional price when you factor in the unit's weight and design. If you're looking for a true desktop replacement that won't break your back during business trips, I highly recommend this machine.
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2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Dell has announced its entry into the ultracompact blade server market with a new line of innovative hardware that features book-sized blocks--blades--of processors, memory, and disk storage that slide into a central chassis. Dell's PowerEdge 1655MC line targets businesses that need to run multiple small servers or want to consolidate four or more servers into one chassis. The company says that the solution can pack twice as many processors into the same space that its previous servers required. Read the complete article at the following URL:
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
(contributed by Paula Sharick, [email protected])
Last week, Microsoft released a security update for Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0, IE 5.5, and IE 5.01 that eliminates three security vulnerabilities, all of which might let a malicious user read browser-compatible local files or run a program stored on the local system. The update closes a loophole in how the browser manages Portable Network Graphics (.png) files, corrects a problem with encoded characters in a URL, and implements a more rigorous security check on how the browser handles objects. The cumulative rollup supersedes all previously released IE security updates, including the previous cumulative security rollup, MS02-047 (Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer), which Microsoft released on August 27. The update also includes security fix MS02-022 (Unchecked Buffer in MSN Chat Control Can Lead to Code Execution). For more information about the security rollup, visit the following URL:
WEB-EXCLUSIVE ARTICLES: The following items are posted on the Windows & .NET Magazine Web site. For the complete story, use the following link and scroll to the appropriate article.
Microsoft has corrected two blue-screen problems and a backup file corruption problem that occurs in the mrxsmb.sys and rdbss.sys components that implement the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. For details about these problems and how to fix them, visit the following URL:
Microsoft released a bug fix that correctly sets the DNS domain name, and presumably the DNS suffix in Network Identification, when you upgrade servers to Win2K and when you upgrade a legacy domain to Active Directory (AD). For details abut this fix, 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, "Which office suite does your organization use?" Here are the results (+/-2 percent) from the 513 votes:
- 59% Microsoft Office
- 1% Lotus SmartSuite
- 1% Corel WordPerfect Office
- 38% Sun StarOffice
- 1% Other
The next Instant Poll question is, "Is your organization looking at high-end laptops as desktop-replacement PCs for your users?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, we're moving toward all desktop-replacement laptops for users, b) We're considering moving some of our users to laptops as desktop replacements, c) No, we're sticking with our traditional desktop machines, or d) I don't know.
Mark wants to know how to specify which port number internal DNS uses to communicate to an external DNS server. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:
(contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com)
Q. Why does the Magnifier utility start automatically whenever I boot my Windows 2000 or later machine?
A. If you don't stop the Magnifier utility before you shut down your computer, Windows assumes that you want to use the utility the next time you start your computer and automatically runs it. (The OS does this by adding the utility value to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce registry subkey.) To stop the Magnifier utility, press Ctrl+Alt+Del to open Windows Task Manager, select the magnify.exe task from the Task tab, then click End Task.
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])
ViewSonic launched the Tablet PC V1100, a mobile PC device that features a pen-activated screen and digital ink technology. The Tablet PC V1100 runs Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and features an ultra-low-voltage mobile Pentium III-M processor and an ergonomic slate design to support the user's grip. Other features include 256MB of RAM, a 20GB hard disk, a 56Kbps modem, a full-color 10.4-inch display, and as much as 3 hours of battery life. The unit costs $1995. Contact ViewSonic at 909-869-7976 or 800-888-8583.
SmartLine released Remote Task Manager 3.7.5, software that lets you control services and devices on multiple remote networks or systems. You can manage run levels, configure security access settings, and remotely add new services and devices. Remote Task Manager costs $40 and runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT systems. Contact SmartLine at [email protected]
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected].
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]
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