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February 25, 2003--In this issue:
1. COMMENTARY - The Problem with Linux; Laptop of the Month
2. HOT OFF THE PRESS - Microsoft Touts DRM Technologies
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT - Win2K Shutdown Blue Screen; a Cluster-Based VPN Bug; and DNS and Dfs Bug Fixes
4. ANNOUNCEMENTS - Join The HP & Microsoft Network Storage Solutions Road Show! - Our Active Directory Web Seminar Is in Just 3 Weeks!
5. INSTANT POLL - Results of Previous Poll: Identify Your Industry - New Instant Poll: Windows Server 2003 Upgrade
6. RESOURCES - Featured Thread: How to Change the Start Directory When Running Cmd.exe - Tip: Executing Programs in the Application Data Area
7. NEW AND IMPROVED - Control the Screen and Keyboard of a Remote PC - Receive Notifications About Security Breaches - Submit Top Product Ideas
8. CONTACT US - See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
* THE PROBLEM WITH LINUX; LAPTOP OF THE MONTH
Have you ever heard the term "disruptive technology"? Author Clayton M. Christensen coined the term in his book "The Innovator's Dilemma." Basically, disruptive technology is technology that's inferior to the status quo but good enough to win market share over time. Put simply, disruptive technology is "good enough." Recently, an open-source advocate referred to Linux as a disruptive technology, obviously believing that the OS is destined to defeat Windows. That idea got me thinking: Using more complex criteria than the simple definition above, I believe Linux needs to fulfill the following goals to qualify as disruptive technology: - Linux must have innovative features, valued initially by new customers, which will eventually form a competitive advantage. - Linux must be cheaper, simpler, smaller, and more convenient to use than the competition (i.e., Windows). - Linux must offer potential adopters a new and different value proposition.
On the surface, Linux might seem to meet these qualifications. But Linux is flawed, and not necessarily for the reasons you might think. I believe that open-source software solutions will dominate the future OS market and that Microsoft will continue to move closer to this market. Today's Linux is unlikely to unseat Windows simply because the technology is untenable for many enterprises.
When student Linus Torvalds originally devised Linux more than 10 years ago, he sought to emulate the OSs with which he was familiar at school--UNIX and a free UNIX clone called Minix. Working alone in the beginning, he started duplicating the functionality of the UNIX command line on his own system. And now, a decade later, Linux is simply the next UNIX. The OS looks and acts like UNIX; the difference, of course, is that Linux is cheaper than UNIX, runs on more hardware platforms, and isn't centrally controlled by one vendor or a small group of vendors.
However, Linux has many problems. First, Linux brings the same command-line "cruft" that ultimately supplanted UNIX with Windows, which was simpler to learn and administer. Linux's many applications and services, which duplicate those available on UNIX, provide the same inconsistent interfaces as they do on UNIX; thus, determining how they communicate with other processes is difficult. Like UNIX, Linux is a mess. One would think that Torvalds would have "done UNIX right" and fixed the problems; instead, he opted to mimic an OS that was already on the way out.
The Linux development process is also a problem. Unlike Windows Server 2003, with its tens of thousands of developers working in concert to address customer needs, Linux has a loose confederation of hackers and companies spread around the world, all with different goals. (For a detailed look at the Windows development process, please see my "Windows Server 2003 Road to Gold" series on the SuperSite for Windows, at the URL below). For much of Linux's development, important technologies such as device drivers were written only when a particular hacker needed such a driver to use his or her own hardware. But even now, with big companies such as IBM backing Linux, no central clearinghouse exists for features, UI guidelines, international concerns, accessibility, and other important capabilities that make Windows a mature environment. (Linux users still argue over which shell environment they should use.)
Linux backers will argue that these concerns are what made Linux popular to begin with and that the OS's popularity will continue for the same reasons. I disagree. Linux achieved its success because it was free and easy for hackers to get involved in its community. But for Linux to step into the real world of enterprise computing, it needs better standards, a central committee to determine the product roadmap, and a guiding hand that's more in tune with enterprise concerns than is Torvalds. In its present form, Linux is a good solution for a number of markets, but the OS doesn't have what it takes to be successful in the two most important (i.e., profitable) ones: the consumer (i.e., desktop) and enterprise server markets.
Disruptive technology? Unless Linux grows up quickly, it will simply provide Microsoft with the incentive the company needed to improve its products more quickly than it had been doing--incentive that products such as Apple Computer’s Macintosh, Novell NetWare, and IBM OS/2 once provided. And that's not disruptive--it's just the same old story.
Laptop of the Month: Toshiba’s Portege 3500 This month's laptop is Toshiba’s excellent Portege 3500, a convertible-notebook Tablet PC design that features a bigger screen, more horsepower, and better expandability than most Tablet PCs. Toshiba opted for the convertible-notebook design that Acer started with its TravelMate C100, but Toshiba made a few changes that sets the Portege apart. First, Toshiba ships the Tablet PC with a 12" screen, rather than the 10" screen that most tablet machines use. At 4.1 pounds, the Portege is a bit heavier than most Tablet PCs, but it's worth it. As a laptop, the Portege offers a comfortable, no-compromise, full-sized keyboard that most business travelers will prefer; as a tablet, the Portege's bigger screen seems more natural than other designs because it's closer to the size of a real piece of 8.5" x 11" paper.
From a design standpoint, Toshiba eschewed the dual-latch system that Acer used for its TravelMate, using instead a single, rotating latch that you use to change the screen between notebook and tablet form factors. My initial reservations about the hinge's stability were unfounded: In regular use, the screen is as steady as any laptop screen.
The Portege is also brimming with high-end (for a Tablet PC) hardware and ports. The machine I tested features a best-in-market 1.33GHz Pentium III-M processor, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard disk, and built-in 802.11b wireless technology. Its expansion capabilities are excellent, too. Although it has no internal optical drive (as is the case with all current tablets), the Portege includes a PC card slot, a CompactFlash (CF) slot, a Secure Digital (SD) card slot, and two USB 2.0 ports, in addition to VGA, Ethernet, modem, and audio ports. Integrated Bluetooth wireless technology is optional, and battery life is average--about 2.5 hours.
The Portege outperforms other Tablet PCs I've tested, and the Digital Ink feature never struggles to keep up with my handwriting. But what really sells me on this machine is its prowess as a standard notebook: I never felt like I was using a stripped-down machine. And I was always conscious that I could quickly switch to tablet mode when needed, giving me the best of both worlds.
If you're looking for a nocompromise notebook computer that you can occasionally use as a Tablet PC, the Portege is an excellent choice that I highly recommend.
Windows 2003 Road to Gold http://www.winsupersite.com
* MICROSOFT TOUTS DRM TECHNOLOGIES Late Friday, Microsoft announced that the company will soon release a beta version of its Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies that will let Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Office 2003 users create secure documents that can't be leaked, copied, or forwarded to unauthorized individuals. Microsoft says that Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) is the result of its enterprise customers asking for a way to prevent users from leaking sensitive internal documents to the Web and competitors. The company says it will ship a beta version of RMS in the second quarter. For the complete story, visit the following URL: http://www.wininformant.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=38117
* WIN2K SHUTDOWN BLUE SCREEN; A CLUSTER-BASED VPN BUG; AND DNS AND DFS BUG FIXES Do you have any Windows 2000 systems that intermittently experience a blue screen during shutdown? If so, a bug in the Server service, srv.sys, might be the cause of the problem. The system crash occurs when the Server service shuts down before it completes queued-up tasks. The problem is related to interaction between the Server service and the printing subsystem. When this bug crashes the system, you'll see a stop code of 0xCE in the component srv.sys. Microsoft released a bug fix that updates seven components--printui.dll, spoolss.dll, srv.sys, srvsvc.cll, win32spl.dll, winspool.drv, and winotify.dll. All files have a release date of December 18, 2002. If you call support, cite the Microsoft article "Bugcheck with Stop Message 'STOP 0x000000CE' and Svr.sys in Crashdump When Computer Shuts Down" ( http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=810022 ).
WEB-EXCLUSIVE ARTICLES: The following items are posted on the Windows & .NET Magazine Web site. For the complete story, use the following link and scroll to the appropriate item. http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=38137
* Windows XP Cluster-Based VPN Bug * DNS Server Forwarding Fix * Dfs Snap-in Misbehaves
* JOIN THE HP & MICROSOFT NETWORK STORAGE SOLUTIONS ROAD SHOW! Now is the time to start thinking of storage as a strategic weapon in your IT arsenal. Come to our 10-city Network Storage Solutions Road Show, and learn how existing and future storage solutions can save your company money--and make your job easier! There's no fee for this event, but space is limited. Register today! http://www.winnetmag.com/roadshows/nas
* OUR ACTIVE DIRECTORY WEB SEMINAR IS IN JUST 3 WEEKS! Join us as Precise SRM shows you how to leverage Active Directory to assess storage usage, reclaim wasted disk space, and control storage growth. You'll learn how to use AD to save countless hours managing server growth, get back up to half of your server space right away, and even reduce storage growth and backups by 30 percent or more! There is no charge for this event, but space is limited, so register today! http://www.winnetmag.com/seminars/activedirectory
* RESULTS OF PREVIOUS POLL: IDENTIFY YOUR INDUSTRY The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "What industry do you work in?" Here are the results from the 224 votes. - 7% health care - 12% financial - 15% education - 13% government - 52% other
(Deviations from 100 percent are due to rounding error.)
* NEW INSTANT POLL: WINDOWS SERVER 2003 UPGRADE The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you believe Windows Server 2003 is a compelling upgrade to Windows 2000?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, b) No, or c) I don't know yet. http://www.winnetmag.com/magazine
* FEATURED THREAD: HOW TO CHANGE THE START DIRECTORY WHEN RUNNING CMD.EXE User umcalis wants to know how to change the default start directory when running cmd.exe on a Windows XP or Windows 2000 system. Find out the details and join the discussion at the following URL: http://www.winnetmag.com/forums/rd.cfm?cid=36&tid=54904
* TIP: EXECUTING PROGRAMS IN THE APPLICATION DATA AREA (contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com )
Q. Why can't I execute programs in the application data area even after I add %APPDATA% to the path string on my Windows XP or Windows 2000 computer?
A. The APPDATA environment variable points to the user's application data area (e.g., C:\documents and settings\ 7.
* CONTROL THE SCREEN AND KEYBOARD OF A REMOTE PC NetSupport released NetSupport Manager (NSM) 8.0, desktop-management software that lets you watch, share, and control a workstation's screen, keyboard, and mouse. You can use the audio functions on multimedia-capable PCs to talk to your users over the network, dial-up, or Internet link. The NetSupport Gateway feature lets you remotely control PCs that are behind different firewalls. You can collect detailed system information about the hardware and software on a client PC. For pricing, contact NetSupport at 770-205-4456. http://www.netsupport-inc.com
* RECEIVE NOTIFICATIONS ABOUT SECURITY BREACHES Ipswitch released WhatsUp Gold 8.0, network-monitoring software that notifies administrators in realtime about security breaches, failed antivirus file loads, and system failures. WhatsUp Gold lets you select specific device types that you can map to minimize the software's use of network bandwidth. WhatsUp Gold 8.0 costs $795. You can purchase an annual service agreement for $345. Contact Ipswitch at 781-676-5700 or email@example.com. http://www.ipswitch.com
* SUBMIT TOP PRODUCT IDEAS 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 Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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