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September 10, 2002—In this issue:
- What a Curious State of Affairs
2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
- Microsoft Releases Windows XP SP1
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
- Preparing for SP3
- Known SP3 Problems
- UNIX, Linux, and Windows: Managing the Unruly Trinity
- Test with VUE, Get a Special Deal on Windows & .NET Magazine!
5. HOT RELEASE (ADVERTISEMENT)
- Support Costs Through the Roof? Try Profile Maker 7
- Winternals ERD Commander 2002
6. INSTANT POLL
- Results of Previous Poll: Virtual Machine Software
- New Instant Poll: UNIX Version
- Featured Thread: Partition Magic 7 Pro compatibility with XP Pro
- Tip: How Can I Upgrade to Microsoft File Transfer Manager (FTM) 4.0?
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Convert Your Database to HTML
- Scan Your Computers for Security Vulnerabilities
- Submit Top Product Ideas
9. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected])
As you might imagine, I spend much of my time scouring the Web for material for my daily newsletter, WinInfo Daily UPDATE. I regularly hit every corner of the Web, from the traditional news organizations such as Reuters, CNN, and MSNBC to the seedy underside of the Internet, where I find out about leaked Microsoft product builds and the latest happenings in various hacker communities. You might not think that such diverse sources have much in common, but a single voice has been calling out from around the world lately, stating the same cold, clinical fact. Whether the source is the "Boston Globe" or a site about OS opinions where anyone can contribute, the message is the same: "Microsoft is in trouble. Big trouble. Impending doom trouble."
I read columns, opinions, and commentaries about the imminent death of Microsoft almost every day now, and I've noticed that the rallying cries against the software giant are growing ever more insistent. Lately, most of the stories involve Linux, the open-source software phenomenon that's taken a large chunk out of the low-end UNIX server market but has made no headway on the desktop, despite years of effort. But the release of Apple Computer's newest Mac OS X version, Jaguar, naturally triggered another round of doom and gloom stories for Windows. Mac advocates state firmly and with conviction that this release is "the big one" and "We have Microsoft right where we want it." You can almost imagine the authors of such articles rubbing their hands together like the villain in a James Bond movie. Unfortunately, the Mac user base continues to dwindle, and Jaguar simply refines a nice OS that, frankly, needed the refinement to stay competitive.
So my question is simple: Has there ever been a case, in any industry, in which a company with the unbelievable market power of Microsoft faced such constant cries of impending doom? I posed this question to some friends, and they came up blank, although one suggested that the Microsoft scenario was somewhat similar to the solar power industry claiming to have what it takes to overcome Standard Oil in the early 1900s. Solar power still hasn't overtaken fossil fuels today, 100 years later, despite almost constant press about solar power's advantages. (As an interesting coincidence, those who do use solar power are also strong advocates of the technology. Sound familiar?)
People who forecast the imminent death of Microsoft are probably just wishful thinkers, eager to see their favorite platform succeed. That situation might explain a large portion of the doom-and-gloom articles, although not, one would hope, the stories from major news entities in which opinion shouldn't be allowed to intervene with reality. Unfortunately, that state of affairs isn't always the case; I've seen from major news agencies some amazing examples of off-kilter reporting that are coloring the average reader's opinions of the real world.
One recent article discusses the "bitter harvest" of Microsoft executives, thanks to backlash against their renegade business practices. Naturally, the article sits between articles titled "How Linux Could Become the Next Killer Desktop" and "Mac OS X: The Tide Is Turning." But what's surprising is that I originally came across this article on Reuters, one of the most conservative news agencies. And like most articles of its ilk, the author isn't afraid to bend the truth a bit to make a point, such as when we learn that "former \[Microsoft\] allies are dropping the operating system like a hot potato" and "existing settlement rulings are forcing Microsoft to include new software ... in its Windows XP service packs." But my favorite part of this diatribe is that it uses the phrase "Microsoft's seemingly impending doom," which will occur, of course, when "the Justice Department busts up the empire."
I could spend the rest of my life debunking such articles, but that would be a hollow existence. Some day in the distant future, I suspect Microsoft will still be in a position of power, even though its latest technology at the time—a personal hyperspace transmitter, no doubt—is lagging behind the competition. The company will catch up. Doesn't it always?
A Bit More on the Shatter Attack
If you've been following my coverage of the Shatter Attack, you'll recall that Microsoft finally provided an adequate response to programmer Chris Paget's claims and admitted that the attack was a problem the company needed to address. However, Microsoft stopped short of admitting that the Shatter Attack was a deep architectural flaw in Windows and said that the problem was mostly caused by errant, poorly written applications.
Paget, predictably, takes some umbrage with this claim, and he's written a follow-up to Microsoft's response, which details why Microsoft might still be wrong about the attack and how the company is still spinning its wheels on semantics (see URL below). But, as Paget notes, at least the company is finally doing something about the matter. Frankly, I think Paget sums up the whole episode succinctly when he says, "Personally, I believe that the blame should ultimately lie with Microsoft; they designed Windows so that it was easy to use, easy to code for, and (as a consequence) easy to break into." We could say the same of virtually every product the company has released to date.
Paget, incidentally, is one of the good guys. I hope Microsoft works more closely with him going forward.
"Shatter attacks—more techniques, more detail, more juicy goodness"
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2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Microsoft has released Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), the long-awaited collection of bug fixes for the company's best-selling OS. XP SP1 includes all the XP security fixes that Microsoft has issued to Windows Update since last October, security fixes that resulted in an early 2002 Trustworthy Computing code review, compliance changes dictated by the company's proposed antitrust settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and so-called enabling technologies for new XP versions such as Windows XP Media Center Edition (due in mid-October) and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition (due November 7). For the complete story, visit the following URL:
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
(contributed by Paula Sharick, [email protected])
Before you upgrade to Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3), you need to do several things to prepare your system: Identify, download, and create a procedure for installing security hotfixes; and upgrade Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) to IE SP2.
Microsoft no longer bundles security hotfixes for current IE versions in service packs. Win2K SP3 includes the security updates packaged in Win2K SP2 for IE 5.01, but applies no security hotfixes for IE 6.0 or 5.5. You can find a list of current security updates for IE 6.0 and for IE 5.5.
For a list of known Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3) problems, including Win2K Server Terminal Services client print issues, a blue screen during shutdown problem, and a profile-unload error, visit the following URL:
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)
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6. INSTANT POLL
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Do you use virtual machine software in your organization?" Here are the results (+/-2 percent) from the 202 votes:
- 36% Yes, it's indispensable - 20% Yes, but not often - 15% No, but we likely will in the near future - 27% No, and we have no plans to use it - 2% I don't know
The next Instant Poll question is, "What version of UNIX (if any) does your organization use?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) AIX, b) HP-UX, c) Solaris, d) Linux, or e) UnixWare.
This user tried to use PowerQuest's Partition Magic 7 to resize a partition in Windows XP Professional Edition. He receives a batch process error and wonders whether anyone else has had this problem. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:
(contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com) Certain Microsoft Web sites (e.g., Microsoft Developer Network—MSDN—downloads, various beta programs) use FTM to secure file downloads and help restore broken file transfers. Microsoft discovered a problem in earlier versions of the download manager that posed a security risk, so you should upgrade to version 4.0 to reduce your security risks.
You can download the latest version of FTM from the URL below. When you access this Web site, the installer will tell you which version of the FTM client you're using and how to download and install the latest version. The Web site also includes instructions for removing FTM from your system.
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])
XlineSoft released DB to HTML Express 3.0, software that lets you convert your database to HTML or PDF format. The template-based tool can convert database files to static, search-enabled HTML or PDF documents. DB to HTML Express supports all Microsoft Access, Oracle, and ODBC databases. The software runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, and Windows 9x systems. Pricing is $129 for a single-user license. Contact XlineSoft at [email protected]
Shavlik Technologies released Shavlik EnterpriseInspector 2.0, software that lets you scan thousands of PCs for security vulnerabilities. One-touch scanning capability lets you quickly check computers across your enterprise for needed patches, weak passwords, and misconfigured software. Shavlik EnterpriseInspector 2.0 runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT systems. Pricing starts at $3123.75 for managing as many as 50 computers. Contact Shavlik Technologies at 800-690-6911.
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column in Windows & .NET Magazine. Send your product suggestions to [email protected].
9. CONTACT US
Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:
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- ABOUT KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT — [email protected]
- ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL — [email protected]
(please mention the newsletter name in the subject line)
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