Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE--September 16, 2003

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1. Commentary: Inside Dell

2. Hot Off the Press
- Microsoft Teams with Motorola on Smart Phone

3. Keeping Up with Win2K and NT
- RPC Security Round 2: Cleaning Up After the Latest RPC Vulnerability

4. Announcements
- Active Directory eBook Chapter 4 Published!
- New Web Seminars on Exchange, Active Directory, and More!

5. Inside Windows Scripting Solutions
- October 2003 Issue
- Focus: Configuring GPOs

6. Instant Poll
- Results of Previous Poll: Windows 2003 Certification
- New Instant Poll: Patching Your Systems

7. Resources
- Tip: What Log Files Does Windows XP Create During Installation?

8. Events
- New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show! 9. New and Improved
- Learn More About CMS
- Have Your PC Answer Your Calls
- 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: Inside Dell ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

Last month, I accompanied several representatives from Windows & .NET Magazine to various Dell facilities in the Austin, Texas, area. Most readers are probably somewhat familiar with Dell (formerly Dell Computer), the world's largest PC maker. However, I suspect most people don't understand how Dell came to be such a large and successful company. Even I was surprised by what I found out during the visit. Here are the highlights.

Real-Time Manufacturing
Dell builds computers at various huge automated factories in and around Round Rock, Texas, near Austin. As many readers might expect, part of Dell's success involves continually adapting its computer parts requirements according to the orders the company is receiving, in real time, then negotiating the best price for those parts, according to its volume needs. For this reason, Dell's prices fluctuate fairly regularly, and the company is able to maintain some of the best price-to-performance ratios in the PC industry. Dell is so large, in fact, that its main suppliers have parts warehouses nearby to keep up with Dell's demand. During our visit, parts arrived on one side of the server construction factory, while shipping trucks were pulling up to the other side to cart away finished systems to customers.

Inside the factories, Dell has seemingly perfected a process that began with Henry Ford's first automobiles. Orders come in, triggering an assembly line that moves through case inventory and parts requisition (e.g., CPUs, RAM, hard disks) to one of the many builder stations. The assembly-line process assembles the various components into the case, then scans and identifies each part so that for future service calls, technicians will know exactly which parts went into the system. The completed case then travels down the line, at which point it receives documentation, software disks, and any other stray parts. Finally, the whole kit is boxed up and set on pallets at the far end of the factory, ready to go out on the next available truck. I've dramatically simplified the process here, which, frankly, is rather awe-inspiring.

Corporate Culture
Dell, like any other large company, has hokey mission statements and pledges to better serve customers, but with a strange difference: Despite my constant exposure to Grade A public relations on an ongoing basis, I got a different vibe from Dell. These people were serious about continually meeting the company's overall goal, which basically amounts to providing its customers with the best computing experience for the best price. I know that sounds glib, but in our various meetings with folks from the company's various product groups, this mantra came up repeatedly. This belief is really is part of the company's corporate culture.

The other important and often overlooked truth to Dell's success is the company's across-the-board pragmatism. Critics often point out that Dell rarely innovates and is never the first company to market with any particular product type or technology. These critics almost never understand that this lack of innovation is part of the plan and that when Dell does enter a market, the company tends to dominate it. Let's look at a few examples.

Dell was notably absent in 1996 when Microsoft announced the first handheld PCs based on Windows CE, and likewise was nowhere to be found when Microsoft updated that software for Palm-sized PCs and Pocket PCs. However, when that market finally became viable--after watching high-profile disasters by the likes of NEC, Philips Electronics, and other early adopters--Dell jumped in last fall with its Axim line of Pocket PC devices. Instantly successful, the devices have garnered excellent reviews and good word of mouth. More important, from Dell's perspective, the Axim is now the number-two selling Pocket PC, behind the HP iPAQ. Dell has carved similar markets for itself in printers, servers, and storage, and the company has big plans in other product areas for the near future.

The point is that Dell actually validates a market by releasing product, and to many decision makers, certain product categories become worth evaluating only when Dell jumps in. Although that's not technically "innovative," it's certainly proven to be a more viable business strategy than being first to market.

Serving Its Corporate Master
Finally, Dell also does a commendable job of serving its corporate customers, although I should point out that many companies, including HP and IBM, have similar programs. In its corporate-oriented products, such as its Latitude line of notebooks, Dell has specifically created platforms that live at least 2 to 3 years and configurations that live 12 to 18 months, compared with the consumer-oriented Inspiron line, which changes models every 2 to 3 months. The idea here is that corporate customers want to ensure that they can roll out Dell's products over a long period of time and not have to worry that the product will be obsolete before the rollout is complete.

Dell ensures that its Latitude products maintain parts compatibility, making future upgrades less painful. Thus, batteries, optical drives, and the like are compatible between a wide range of Latitude systems that existed over a long period of time. Recently, Dell began winding down its Latitude C series, which began life in 1997, an eon ago in the computer industry. Its new D series is part-incompatible with the C series, and Dell hopes this new line will also have a 4- to 6-year life cycle. The D series was necessitated by changes in mobile computing that would have been impossible to fully realize on the aging C platform, and all D series systems are based on Intel's exciting Pentium M mobile platform.

Also, Dell is keenly aware of what its customers want and what they're buying. Looking forward, the company has some interesting plans for expanding into new markets and extending its current products to better match customer needs. Much of this information is under nondisclosure agreement (NDA), but I'll have more to say in the coming months.

We have tentative plans to visit more companies in the future, but I'm curious if this short look behind the scenes at Dell was worthwhile. Let me know what you think, and whether there are any other companies about which you'd like to learn more.


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

Microsoft Teams with Motorola on Smart Phone
Microsoft and Motorola have put an end to the worst-kept tech secret in recent days by formally announcing a joint deal in which Motorola will sell smart cell phones based on Windows Mobile software. Microsoft says the new Motorola MPx200, which will go on sale later this year, will run on AT&T Wireless's wireless network and will offer North American customers a unique solution. The Motorola deal marks a huge milestone for Microsoft, which has met a lot of resistance from the telecommunications industry. To read the complete story, visit the following URL:

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

RPC Security Round 2: Cleaning Up After the Latest RPC Vulnerability
The MSBlaster (LoveSan) saga prompted a thorough analysis of Microsoft's implementation of remote procedure call (RPC) processing. During the analysis, several security firms uncovered three additional, and potentially nasty, vulnerabilities in how the RPC service processes malformed RPC requests. If you didn't read Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-039 (Buffer Overrun In RPCSS Service Could Allow Code Execution) last week, you're in for another frantic round of workstation and server patching that's as big in scope as the MSBlaster fix you distributed a few weeks ago.
The newly acknowledged security holes affect the RPC implementation on all currently supported Windows platforms, including Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT. In the best case, a successful exploit of one vulnerability can cause a Denial of Service (DoS) attack on Win2K systems; in the worst case, the loopholes let a malicious user assume complete control over a system. According to the bulletin, a successful attacker could "run code with Local System privileges on an affected system, or could cause the RPCSS Service to fail. The attacker could then be able to take any action on the system, including installing programs, viewing, changing or deleting data, or creating new accounts with full privileges." To read the complete story, visit the following URL:

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

Active Directory eBook Chapter 4 Published!
The fourth chapter of Windows & .NET Magazine's popular eBook "Windows 2003: Active Directory Administration Essentials" is now available at no charge! Chapter 4 looks at what's inside Windows Server 2003 forests and DNS. Download it now!

New Web Seminars on Exchange, Active Directory, and More!
Check out the latest lineup of Web seminars from Windows & .NET Magazine. Prepare your enterprise for Exchange Server 2003, discover the legal ramifications of deterring email abuse, and find out how Active Directory can help you create and maintain a rock-solid infrastructure. There is no charge for these events, but space is limited, so register today!

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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.
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!

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

Focus: Configuring GPOs
Learn how to remove Client Services for NetWare, how to use VBScript to retrieve date and time information, how to locate roaming users, and how to configure GPOs to perform policy-based tasks.

Scripting Group Policy Objects
Microsoft adds some new tricks to Windows 2003 that let you automate the process of configuring GPOs to perform policy-based tasks.
-- Alistair G. Lowe-Norris

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

Results of Previous Poll: Windows 2003 Certification
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Do you plan to pursue certification for Windows Server 2003?" Here are the results from the 210 votes:
- 2% I already have Windows 2003 certification
- 47% Yes, I plan to pursue Windows 2003 certification
- 51% I have no plans to pursue Windows 2003 certification

New Instant Poll: Patching Your Systems
The next Instant Poll question is, "Have you patched your systems against the most recent Windows bug--a vulnerability in the RPCSS service?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, we patched our system immediately, b) No, we haven't yet patched our systems, but we plan to, c) No, we probably won't patch our systems, or d) I haven't heard about the latest vulnerability.

==== 7. Resources ====

Tip: What Log Files Does Windows XP Create During Installation?
by John Savill,

XP creates the following log files:
- setupact.log--This log file contains a list of chronological actions that occurred during the graphical installation phase, such as file copies and registry changes. The OS also stores setup error log entries in this file. XP writes the setupact.log file to the %systemroot% folder (e.g., C:\windows).
- setuperr.log--This log file contains a list of errors that occurred during installation and their severity (this log file should be 0 bytes in size if no errors occurred during installation). XP writes the setuperr.log file to the %systemroot% folder.
- comsetup.log--This log file contains installation information about Optional Component Manager and COM+ components. XP writes the comsetup.log file to the %systemroot% folder.
- setupapi.log--This log file contains information that XP writes each time an .inf file executes, including any errors. XP writes the setupapi.log file to the %systemroot% folder.
- netsetup.log--This log file contains information about workgroup and domain membership. XP writes the netsetup.log file to the %systemroot%\debug folder.
- setup.log--This log file contains information about the Windows installation that the Recovery Console (RC) uses during repair operations. XP writes the setup.log file to the %systemroot%\repair folder.

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

New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show!
Learn more about the wireless and mobility solutions that are available today! Register now for this free event!

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

Learn More About CMS
Addison-Wesley announced "Microsoft Content Management Server 2002, A Complete Guide," a book by Bill English, Olga Londer, Todd Bleeker, Shawn Shell, and Stephen Cawood that teaches you how to use Content Management Server's (CMS's) features. Topics include deployment, administration, security, site development, performance, troubleshooting, migration, and interoperability. The book is expected to publish in October and costs $49.49. Contact Addison-Wesley at 617-848-7500.

Have Your PC Answer Your Calls
Internet Soft Solution released EzVoice 2.0, an answering machine software program that picks up phone calls and records voice messages. The software saves messages on your hard disk. You can attach notes to your voice messages and entries in your Address Book. EzVoice lets you leave each caller a unique message so that your family can receive a different message than your business partner. EzVoice runs on Windows XP/2000/Me/9x and costs $18.50. contact Internet Soft Solution 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 [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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