WinInfo Daily UPDATE, August 20, 2003

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1. In the News
- Microsoft Finalizes Office 2003, Sets Pricing and October Launch Date
- Worms and Viruses, Oh My

2. Announcements
- Need Help Managing Your Storage Investment?
- Try Windows & .NET Magazine!

3. Event
- New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show!

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

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==== 1. In the News ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Finalizes Office 2003, Sets Pricing and October Launch Date
Microsoft announced yesterday that it has finalized the core Microsoft Office 2003 products (i.e., Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, FrontPage, Outlook, Publisher, and Visio) and released them to manufacturing, setting the stage for an October 21 launch in New York. Starting with this release, Microsoft is marketing its Office products as part of the Microsoft Office System; other Microsoft Office System products will be finalized in the days ahead.
"The release to manufacturing of the Microsoft Office System \[core products\] is a milestone, not only in terms of the unprecedented development and testing work that went into it, but also because it enables customers to piece together data and operational aspects of their businesses where the real work happens: at individuals' desktops," Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of the Information Worker Group, said. "The value of software is measured in how you use it, and never before has it been so easy for businesses to derive such incredible value from their software investments."
Microsoft says that more than 600,000 beta testers participated in the Office 2003 beta--three times more than participated in the Office XP beta. Feedback from users who obtained the publicly available beta 2 release was key to producing a high-quality product that met users' needs. Microsoft told me that an interim Beta 2 Refresh release that the company made available online to all Beta 2 users was the result of user feedback from Beta 2. This feedback and the resulting changes caused Microsoft to delay the Office 2003 release by several months.
In the United States, Office 2003 products will have the same pricing as the current Office XP products. The least expensive version, Microsoft Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003, will carry a $149 suggested retail price. Individual applications will cost $99 to $599 at retail, depending on the product and whether it's an upgrade version. Microsoft will make Office 2003 available through volume licensing starting September 1; PC makers will begin shipping machines with Office 2003 preinstalled by the end of September. Retail customers in the United States and Canada can purchase Office 2003 products beginning October 21, the company says.
Later today, I'll update my "Office 2003 Editions Compared" showcase on the SuperSite for Windows to detail the US retail prices of the various Office 2003 products.

Worms and Viruses, Oh My
Two new computer attacks are wreacking havoc with PC users this week, clogging email systems and overwhelming corporate networks. The first, which oddly enough seeks to undo the damage from the infamous MSBlaster worm, is a worm called W32.Welchia or W32/Nachi; it aggressively looks for new hosts that MSBlaster has infected, then downloads and installs the Microsoft patch that fixes the vulnerability. The second, SoBig.F and its variants, is a virus and is more malicious. This virus infects users through email, searches for email addresses on the users' systems, then sends itself through email messages to each of those email addresses.
W32.Welchia and SoBig.F would be bad enough on their own, but the combination of both is causing headaches for IT departments and end users around the world. W32.Welchia replicates using the same remote procedure call (RPC) vulnerability that MSBlaster used, and although it seeks to help users battle MSBlaster, it's faster, more aggressive, and better written than MSBlaster, so it's hogging bandwidth at many companies. Security experts say W32.Welchia hasn't affected the wider Internet, however.
The news isn't nearly as positive for SoBig.F and its variants. Thanks to its rapid replication process, this virus has already affected millions of users worldwide, dragging down email systems. SoBig.F doesn't just look in your address book for email addresses, either, as many previous viruses did. Instead, it also harvests email addresses from Web pages and other locations. Infected email messages include an attachment and subject lines such as "Re: Approved," "Your Details," and "Thank you!" Obviously, if you receive such an email message, you should delete it and not open the attachment.
As always, the advice is to keep your antivirus definitions up-to-date and consult with companies such as McAfee, Microsoft, and Symantec for the most recent security updates, virus-scanning applications, and other information.

==== 2. Announcements ====
(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

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==== 3. Event ====
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TAGS: Security
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