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WinInfo Daily UPDATE, April 13, 2005

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In the News

- Microsoft Removes Windows XP SP2 Block, World Doesn't End
- Microsoft Issues April Security Fixes
- Microsoft Ships DPM Public Beta

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Removes Windows XP SP2 Block, World Doesn't End

Microsoft has removed a software block that had let some small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) block the Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) download. The company announced in August that the blocking tool would be in place through April 12, 2005, and a series of stories recently reported that everything short of Armageddon would occur when the company removed the tool. Because you're reading this now, a day later, you can see that the world didn't end.
Was the removal of the XP SP2 blocking tool supposed to be that dramatic? I first debunked the doomsayers in the March 22 issue of Windows IT Pro UPDATE ("Understanding the Windows XP SP2 Blocking Mechanism;" see the URL below), noting that, even with the blocking tool removed, XP SP2 wouldn't suddenly install on all your systems. You still had to agree to the End User License Agreement (EULA) and instantiate the setup routine. And, of course, midsized businesses and enterprises that use software-deployment solutions don't have to worry about this matter at all. Administrators can roll out XP SP2 in their environments whenever they're ready.
Conspiratorial silliness notwithstanding, avoiding XP SP2 will prove to be a mistake for many users. The update, which is more like a full OS upgrade than a typical service pack, includes numerous security enhancements and new features. Despite this, XP SP2 has proven to be a relatively simple upgrade for most users; Microsoft has reported a lower-than-expected volume of support calls. Most XP SP2 upgrade concerns are associated with custom-built applications because the update locks down certain distributed application technologies. Microsoft says that more than 185 million users have successfully installed XP SP2.

Microsoft Issues April Security Fixes

Microsoft issued eight security bulletins yesterday as part of its monthly security bulletin release schedule. Five of the bulletins address flaws that are rated critical, the software giant's most dangerous designation.
Critical security patches are now available for various versions of Windows, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Word, and MSN Messenger. Critical flaws can typically lead to a remote user exploiting the flaw and taking control of a user's system. The three other security bulletins are rated important, the second most dangerous designation.
Users who are interested in downloading the patches for these flaws should enable Automatic Updates or visit Windows Update. For more information about the flaws, visit the Microsoft Security Web site at the URL below. On a related note, the company enhanced the Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification service this week to include information about regular updates to the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool.

Microsoft Ships DPM Public Beta

Microsoft shipped the first public beta today of what's now called Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM), previously known as Microsoft Data Protection Server. Designed as an enterprise-class backup and recovery server, DPM leverages high-capacity disk-based servers to provide crucial backup and recovery services such as high-speed recovery, continuous backup, end-user recovery, and self-healing backups.
"Our whole goal with DPM is to shrink the operational costs associated with IT professionals having to manually recover lost data and manage cumbersome backup and recovery processes," Ben Matheson, group product manager for DPM, said. According to the data Microsoft released, typical data-recovery operations now take hours or days, and 42 percent of Microsoft's customers have experienced a failed recovery in the past year. A typical data recovery also requires an IT administrator, further delaying the operation.
"Most companies use tape backups today," Christopher Whyte, a DPM technical product manager, told me during a prebriefing last week. "But there are difficulties with such backups. They are slow and unreliable and require administrators. The future of backup and recovery is disk-based." In a typical scenario, a dedicated DPM server--which can run either Windows Server 2003 or Windows Storage Server 2003--sits between a company's file servers and its tape library, providing regular snapshots of changing documents and other data so that end users can recover from mistakes more quickly.
The DPM public beta is available in English, German, and Japanese versions. The final version of DPM is expected in the second half of this year. A DPM Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) will also be available. For more information about DPM and the public beta release, visit the Microsoft Web site.

==== Events and Resources ====

(A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows IT Pro: )

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