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Windows Tips & Tricks UPDATE--August 8, 2005

Windows Tips &amp Tricks UPDATE, August 8, 2005, —brought to you by the Windows IT Pro Network and the Windows 2000 FAQ site

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  • Q. What is Windows Vista?
  • Q. How can I use Group Policy to control the new Windows Firewall that's included with Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows XP SP2.
  • Q. What resume options does Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) support when you deploy applications via Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003?
  • Q. What is Microsoft's MSN Virtual Earth?
  • Q. How does Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) OS Deployment Feature Pack handle an unpartitioned disk?

by John Savill, FAQ Editor, [email protected]

In today's issue of Windows Tips & Tricks UPDATE, I tell you about Windows Vista and about a neat new tool from Microsoft--MSN Virtual Earth. I explain how you can use Group Policy to control Microsoft's new Windows Firewall and what resume options Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) supports when you deploy applications via Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003. I also explain how SMS OS Deployment Feature Pack handles an unpartitioned disk and how you can control this behavior.

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Q. What is Windows Vista?

A. Windows Vista is the final name for the next major Windows OS, code-named Longhorn, which is the successor to Windows XP. (The server version of Longhorn likely won't carry the Vista title and will instead be named Windows Server 2007.) Microsoft released Vista Beta 1 on July 27. You can learn more about Vista here . If you're purchasing new machines now on which you want to be able to run Vista, ensure that they have a minimum of 512MB of RAM and at least a 3GHz Pentium 4 processor.

Q. How can I use Group Policy to control the new Windows Firewall that's included with Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows XP SP2.

A. Along with the new Windows Firewall in Windows 2003 SP1 and XP SP2, Microsoft provided an updated system.adm administrative template file that adds Group Policy settings that you can use to configure firewall behavior at a local machine policy level or by using an Active Directory (AD)-based Group Policy Object (GPO). To access the Windows Firewall Group Policy settings, open either a local machine policy (run gpedit.msc on a workstation) or a GPO stored in a domain. Expand Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Network, Network Connections, Windows Firewall. You can configure firewall settings under both the Domain Profile and Standard Profile subfolders. You use the domain profile when the computer is connected to the AD network and the standard profile when the machine isn't connected to the corporate network. This setup lets you configure different settings for networked machines and remote machines, as the figure shows. The options under each of the two branches are identical, and you can click an item to view its description. Here are some key settings you might want to enable:

  • Windows Firewall: Protect all network connections. This setting essentially forces the firewall on or off for the profile.
  • Windows Firewall: Do not allow exceptions. This option instructs the firewall to ignore any exceptions that have been defined. Enabling this setting is equivalent to selecting the "Don't allow exceptions" check box on the General tab of the Windows Firewall Control Panel applet.)
  • Windows Firewall: Define program exceptions Properties. This setting lets you define custom programs, to which you can then grant exceptions to pass through the firewall.
  • Windows Firewall: Prohibit notifications. This setting stops the firewall from prompting users whether they want to allow exceptions for a currently stopped program.
  • Windows Firewall: Allow logging. This option lets you configure the logging level for the firewall, the log size, and its name and location.
Microsoft has more information about firewall policy settings at

Q. What resume options does Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) support when you deploy applications via Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003?

A. BITS provides several useful features, particularly the checkpoint-restart capabilities, which apply when an application is configured as download and execute (i.e., the applications files are downloaded to the client before installation). If a client is downloading files from an SMS distribution point and the process is interrupted, the client can continue downloading the files without starting from the first file. If the download is interrupted mid-file and the client reconnects to the same distribution point, the download will continue from the point in the file where the interruption occurred. For example, if the client had downloaded 50MB of a 100MB file when the interruption occurred, the client would reconnect and the download would start from 50MB. If the client connects to a different distribution point, then the download will restart from the beginning of that file.

Q. What is Microsoft's MSN Virtual Earth?

A. Virtual Earth is Microsoft's equivalent of Google maps. It lets you view any area of the United States via a map or satellite image (or a hybrid view as the figure shows). The satellite images aren't real time and most are several years old (as the figure shows--otherwise it means I'm living on farmland). Visit the Virtual Earth Web site at for a test run.

Q. How does Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) OS Deployment Feature Pack handle an unpartitioned disk?

A. By default the SMS OS Deployment Feature Pack will create a single partition and perform a full NTFS format on a blank disk. If you want to control this behavior and perhaps perform a quick format instead of full format, you can use a script to run in the SMS OS Deployment Feature Pack's preinstallation stage to partition and format the disk. To do so, use the following code, which you can download at . The code runs the DiskPart utility and calls the ZTIDiskPart.txt file to create the partitions. (Some lines wrap because of space constraints.)

' Run DiskPart.
   iRetVal = wshShell.Run("DISKPART.EXE /s 
& <folder> &_ "\ZTIDiskPart.txt
, 0, true) If iRetVal <> Success then EXIT FUNCTION End if ' Now format. iRetVal = wshShell.Run("FORMAT C: /FS:NTFS /Q /V: /Y", 0, true) If iRetVal <> Success then EXIT FUNCTION End if ZSTIDiskPart.txt: select disk 0 clean create partition primary assign letter=c: active exit

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