Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE--October 7, 2003

This Issue Sponsored By

IBM Rational software



1. Commentary: Should Microsoft Be Liable for Bugs in Its Products?

2. Hot Off the Press
- Microsoft Moving Windows Closer to the Metal

3. Announcements
- New White Paper on Exchange 2003 Deployment
- Success with Active Directory

4. Instant Poll
- Results of Previous Poll: Laptop Solutions
- New Instant Poll: Microsoft Liability

5. Resources
- Featured Thread: ADMT
- Tip: Why Does the Advanced Power Management (APM) Tab Appear in the Control Panel Power Options Applet on Only Some of My Machines?

6. Events
- The Mobile & Wireless Road Show Is Coming to Tampa and Atlanta! 7. New and Improved
- Replicate Data
- Index Your Files
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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

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==== 1. Commentary: Should Microsoft Be Liable for Bugs in Its Products? ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

A growing number of analysts, tech industry reporters, IT decision makers, systems administrators, and other users of Microsoft products are starting to ask the same question: Should Microsoft be held financially liable for the vulnerabilities in Windows and its other products? Granted, this year hasn't been good, security-wise, for Microsoft: This summer's SoBig.F virus and MSBlaster worm interrupted businesses and individuals worldwide, albeit without any loss of data, and recent vulnerabilities in Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) facilitated the deadly new QHost attack, which runs malicious code on users' computers when they navigate to unsafe Web sites. But Microsoft, like other software makers, has historically relied on an End User License Agreement (EULA) to protect itself from customers seeking restitution for the allegedly shoddy quality of its products. Is the EULA legally enforceable? Can Microsoft be held liable for problems, including financial losses, its customers accrue from using its software?

A Microsoft consumer in California is testing these legal waters, having launched a class-action lawsuit against the software giant that could cover millions of users in that state. The suit charges Microsoft with unfair competition and infringing on California's consumer protection laws, which are among the strictest in the nation. The suit also charges that Microsoft issues its security alerts too early, giving hackers time to construct attacks for vulnerabilities before users can patch their systems. Also, according to the suit, the company's security alerts are too jargon-laden and technical for average users to digest.

I can't comment about California's laws, and I'm certainly no legal expert. The claims about security bulletins are open to debate, but I'm not sure that the timing of the security bulletins is the problem. A bigger concern is that many Windows users don't take advantage of Auto Update, Windows Update, and the other update services that Microsoft makes available. And enterprises and midsized businesses have no easy solution, which is a topic we've returned to repeatedly this year in Windows & .NET UPDATE: Microsoft's patch-management strategy is broken and in desperate need of an overhaul. That overhaul is coming over the next several months, although it's unclear what steps, if any, the company will take to back-port the strategy to all the Microsoft products enterprises currently use, including Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0. Security advances, in my opinion, can't be a benefit only for users of newer products. The company has an obligation to at least protect its users. Non-security-related products are, perhaps, another story.

But should we hold the company liable? The topic is complex, and I've been wrestling with it for a while now, opining last month in a WinInfo Daily UPDATE Short Takes blurb that, yes, perhaps the company should be held liable. From what I can see, Microsoft does its best work under pressure, and if the company truly had a stake in keeping its customers safe, perhaps its products would improve as a result.

One thing that's always confused me is the legality of the EULA. Can you think of any other product whose license makes no guarantee that the product will work as advertised and even states that the company that made it has no legal responsibility if you lose money, data, or time as a result of using that product? It's somewhat inconceivable to imagine manufacturers selling cars, consumer electronics, furniture, or other products under these conditions. Because software is such a crucial part of our lives, perhaps it should be ... gasp ... regulated.

Don't get me wrong; I don't believe that we need more government oversight, and certainly, the US government doesn't exactly have a proud history of software development, the Internet notwithstanding. But isn't software now so important to the national infrastructure that it needs to be held to a higher standard?

You'll notice I'm asking a lot of questions. I really don't have the answers, beyond the notion that we all need to start asking these questions more often and more seriously. I'm interested in what you think: Is Microsoft's software too important to the nation's financial infrastructure to let the company continue making its software in a vacuum and selling it under terms which free it, legally, from any retribution tied to its lack of quality? In other words, should Microsoft be held financially liable for the bugs and vulnerabilities in its products? I honestly don't know.


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

Microsoft Moving Windows Closer to the Metal
Microsoft is working closely with BIOS maker Phoenix Technologies to ensure that future versions of Windows will work more closely with the BIOS in upcoming PCs and have more direct control over the hardware. The new expanded relationship between the companies is designed to make PCs easier to use and more reliable, Microsoft says. But consumer rights advocates are already up in arms, arguing that the deal will help the companies push Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies on customers; this technology, they say, could reduce the control users have over their computers. For the complete story, visit the following URL:

==== 3. Announcements ====
(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

New White Paper on Exchange 2003 Deployment
In this timely white paper, Microsoft Exchange Server expert Kieran McCorry, from HP's Exchange consulting group, outlines the best options for organizations migrating to Exchange Server 2003. The paper outlines inter- and intra-organizational migration issues and the benefits of server consolidation during deployment. Get your copy today!

Success with Active Directory
Are you in charge of your company's Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 rollout? Are you migrating your Directory Service to Active Directory? What's new in Windows 2003? What new features exist within the AD internals? Invest your time and keep pace with the latest technologies, tips, and tricks. Register now for Windows & .NET Magazine Connections.

~~~~ Hot Release: Tackling the FCC's New FAX Regulations (Technical Whitepaper) ~~~~
Ready or not, the FCC's regulations regarding FAX are here. Think they don't affect you -- think again. If you are sending anything via FAX these regulations impact your organization. Register for a whitepaper:
Designed to be a guide for companies needing to adapt their fax communications to ensure FCC compliance, the whitepaper provides an overview to the July 2003 FCC rules and discusses tools to help companies fax responsibly.

==== 4. Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll: Laptop Solutions
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "What's the most important consideration when choosing a laptop solution for your enterprise?" Here are the results from the 103 votes:
- 25% Size and portability
- 32% Performance
- 13% Battery life
- 30% Cost

New Instant Poll: Microsoft Liability
The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you think Microsoft should be held financially liable for defective software?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, b) No, or c) I don't know.

==== 5. Resources ====

Featured Thread: ADMT User The Wizz wants to know whether he can run the Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) on a Windows XP workstation. To join the discussion, visit the following URL:

Tip: Why Does the Advanced Power Management (APM) Tab Appear in the Control Panel Power Options Applet on Only Some of My Machines?
by John Savill,

Windows uses APM when Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) isn't available because of hardware limitations. For APM to be available, the computer must support APM 1.2 and not be listed in the Disable APM list in the biosinfo.inf file that the system checks during installation. Also, keep in mind that
- APM isn't available on multiprocessor machines.
- Server products don't support APM.
- You must enable APM in the computer BIOS before APM will appear as an option in Windows.

You can check the APM status of your Windows XP and later machine by performing the following steps:
1. Start a command session.
2. Enter the command

apmstat -v

Your computer will display its APM status. For example, when you type this command on an ACPI-enabled machine, the command will return the following result:

This is an ACPI machine, APM is NOT relevant on this machine

==== 6. Events ====
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

The Mobile & Wireless Road Show Is Coming to Tampa and Atlanta!
Learn more about the wireless and mobility solutions that are available today, plus discover how going wireless can offer low risk, proven performance, and compatibility with existing and emerging industry standards. Register now for this free, 12-city event!

==== 7. New and Improved ====
by Carolyn Mader, [email protected]

Replicate Data
NSI Software released Double-Take 4.3 and GeoCluster 4.3, Windows-based replication products. New features let users explore Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) and eight-node clustering capabilities in Windows Server 2003. Pricing for Double-Take 4.3 and GeoCluster 4.3 is $2495 and $4495, respectively. Contact NSI Software at 888-674-9495 or [email protected]

Index Your Files
Pankhurst Algorithmics released Rocket Retriever 3.0, a file management tool for Windows XP/2000/NT/Me/9x systems that indexes all files on your hard disk. You can then search for a file in the future, even if you don't remember the full file name or location of the file. You can use Rocket Retriever to manage a centralized database of documents, check for moved or misplaced files, and keep track of files across multiple hard disks. Pricing is $22.95. Contact Pankhurst Algorithmics at 250-480-0867 or [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 [email protected]

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==== 8. 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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