TSE SP6: A Good Thing?

Christa Anderson

October 24, 2000

3 Min Read
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Help me out here: Is Service Pack 6 (SP6) for Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition (TSE) a good thing or a bad thing? Since it came out in May, I’ve heard—informally—that SP6 causes problems that force people to revert to SP5. But I’ve been searching online for specific problems laid at SP6’s door—looking on the Windows 2000 Magazine Network, thethin.net, NTBUGTRAQ, and several other sites—and have found almost nothing. SP6 doesn't address some problems, but an ICA browser problem is apparently the only one that SP6 actually causes.

A few weeks ago, I solicited thoughts about SP6, asking anyone who’s encountered problems to describe what they’ve seen and explain how they determined that SP6 was to blame. From among 40,000 readers, I received one response.

Bob Caruso wrote to say that Microsoft released a hotfix for TSE SP4 and SP5 to correct a problem wherein the system drive remains visible in Explorer after you have used the Policies Editor to hide the drive from users (see Microsoft article Q255779>) . Caruso loaded this fix on a TSE SP5 machine, and it worked well with one footnote: If his users tried to launch Explorer by right-clicking the Start menu and choosing Explore, Explorer didn't launch and the system displayed a message saying that the system administrator had imposed restrictions. This result was acceptable to Caruso because he had provided a shortcut on the Start menu to a copy of Explorer that properly hides the system drive.

With TSE SP6, users can launch Explorer by right-clicking the Start menu. In such cases, Explorer displays the system drive and sets the current directory as the Start menu directory under users' cached profile directories on the system drive, so users have access to everything on the system drive. However, if users launch Explorer from the shortcut Caruso created, the system drive remains hidden.

Caruso tried reapplying the hotfix, but it didn't fix the problem. The hotfix replaces only explorer.exe in C:WTSRV. Caruso speculates that the restrictions error message the hotfix produces in SP5 occurs when users right-click the Start menu to launch Explorer and Explorer attempts to start up in users' cached Start menu directories in the hidden system drive. Such behavior can also occur if you type explorer.exe C:WTSRVsystem32 at the command line to open a window from the system directory. SP6 must have changed some system file that now lets Explorer display the system drive despite the restriction, he wrote.

Caruso reports that you can work around this problem by selecting Disable Context Menu from Taskbar in the Policies Editor. This step prevents users from right-clicking Start. Unfortunately, it also prevents users from right-clicking the taskbar, forcing them to click Ctrl+Alt+Del to get to Task Manager.

So let’s get to the bottom of this: Have you installed SP6 for TSE? If so, does it work or is it "broken"? Are you waiting to see how it affects others before you install it?

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