My column and tip in last week's Windows Client UPDATE, "Deploying Registry Changes to Multiple Computers" and "Hide Date and Time Information in the System Tray Notification Area," respectively, generated many reader responses, most of which I can divide into two main concerns. I address these readers' concerns in this week's commentary.
The first concern is one I've heard off and on throughout the 3 years that I've been penning this weekly column: that an easier way exists to change the settings that my tips discuss. Usually, this "easier" method uses a switch somewhere in the Windows interface. Yes, occasionally you can use another method to change a particular setting than the method I describe. However, when I write my tips, I presume that most readers of Windows Client UPDATE support more than one computer. To save readers from the necessity of visiting each computer they support to clear a check box on a configuration menu, I provide the appropriate registry edit so that they can easily propagate the change to multiple computers. If you're a standalone user and you know how to use the Windows GUI to change a particular setting for which I provide a registry edit, you should use the GUI. Extraneous registry edits are never a good idea.
The second set of reader responses I received about last week's commentary highlighted my own tunnel vision. I admit that I have a tendency to focus on Windows XP and Windows 2000, and many readers pointed out that my description of how to distribute registry changes lacked the necessary information for use on legacy Windows NT and Windows 9x computers. Here are two additions to last week's instructions to make your registry edits a bit more universal. The first has to do with the format in which you save the registry (i.e., .reg) file. You can save registry files either in text or Unicode format, but versions of Windows earlier than Win2K can't recognize Unicode files, so for those OS versions, you need to save the files in text format.
The second addition concerns the header line in the registry file. In XP and Win2K, the registry editor is version 5, which you'll find specified in the first line of the exported registry file, which reads "Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00." Changing this header line (you can use a text editor such as notepad.exe to do so) to read REGEDIT4 will make the file compatible with earlier Windows OSs.
Thanks to the dozens of readers who took the time to respond to last week's commentary and tip. I'm glad you're keeping me on my toes.
On a completely different note, Microsoft released Win2K Service Pack 4 (SP4) last week. This service pack contains many fixes and updates, two of which I've been waiting for since XP shipped: native 802.1x wireless networking support and native USB 2.0 support. Both of those technologies are in heavy use in my office, and native support for my Win2K computers will make my life easier.
The complete download (so that you can distribute the service pack locally) is 129MB. For more information about the service pack, to download the service pack, or to order the service pack on CD-ROM, go to http://www.microsoft.com/Windows2000/downloads/servicepacks/sp4/download.asp . To read Paul Thurrott's recent WinInfo news article about the service pack, see News & Views in this issue of Windows Client UPDATE.