Win2K SP2 Status
I checked the status of Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2) last Friday, and the official word is that it's scheduled for release in first quarter of this year. Given that it’s the end of February, we should see the badly needed package of fixes sometime during the next 4 weeks. Because I couldn't get a set release date, I assume that Microsoft is still testing this hefty update. By my count, it contains more than 200 bug fixes and a bucket full of security updates. I also asked about Windows NT 4.0 SP7 and got no response, so the next NT update must still be in hover mode.

SMS 2.0 Software Metering Memory Leak
Versions of Systems Management Server (SMS) 2.0 through SP2 that run the Software Metering service might stop responding after days or weeks, depending on the server load, because of a memory leak. The only way to recover from this problem is to reboot the hung server. Clients continue to function without problems as long as an alternate Software Metering server is available, but the memory leak decreases the performance of the clients and servers as the site server transfers metering functions to the remaining servers. If no Software Metering servers are available, Software Metering clients can't get updates and configuration changes.

The memory leak is in the License Metering service (remodbc.exe), which monitors the amount of memory that the service consumes. When memory use exceeds 50MB (the default value), the service restarts to prevent the License Metering service from consuming too much memory. The server hangs when the system fails to stop the License Metering service.

You can call Microsoft Support for the extensive bug fix, which updates 22 files (some dated as early as June of last year). It’s too bad that this update didn't make it into SMS SP2, which Microsoft released last week. See Microsoft article Q245271 (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q245/2/71.asp) for details.

IE 5.5 SP1 Status
Internet Explorer (IE) has had so many problems that I’m not sure which version of the browser we should be running. The innumerable bugs and security vulnerabilities in older versions tell me that it’s time to upgrade to IE 5.5 SP1. However, I just finished scanning the list of known problems in IE 5.5 SP1, and although the latest release—with 128-bit encryption and fewer security vulnerabilities—clearly is an improvement over earlier versions, SP1 is hardly bug free.

If you’re unfamiliar with what’s new in IE 5.5, you can read about the printing, security, and DHTML enhancements in Microsoft article Q265453. For a laundry list of improvements and bug fixes in SP1, see Microsoft article Q276370. You can upgrade to IE 5.5 from IE 3.x or later by installing either IE 5.5 or the latest version, IE 5.5 SP1. Microsoft released SP1 in November 2000; you can download the update from the Microsoft Web site.

Following are several important SP1 update instructions:

  • Virus scanners. To avoid problems with setup, disable any virus scanners before you start the installation
  • Update versions. You can only install the localized Arabic and Hebrew versions of SP1 on localized versions of Win2K and Windows 98. Use the English version of SP1 to update all other OS platforms, including Windows NT 4.0, nonlocalized versions of Win98, and Windows 95.
  • Win2K constraints. When you run IE Setup on Win2K, you can't customize the installation or use any of the setup program's advanced options. This behavior occurs because of the new Windows File Protection (WFP) feature in Win2K. Microsoft article Q256340 (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q256/3/40.asp) indicates that WFP restricts the installation to updating only core browser and scripting files and prevents SP1 from installing NetMeeting, Media Player, and other IE component add-ons. If your users rely on these components, I recommend that you carefully test the basic SP1 installation and the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) options before you deploy a production version. After this experience, you might find that it’s easier to stay with IE 5.01 SP1.
  • Encryption level. If you run NT 4.0 or Win9x, installing IE 5.5 SP1 and Internet Tools upgrades your computer to 128-bit encryption. If you run Win2K or Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), IE 5.5 SP1 doesn't change the system's current encryption level.
  • Security zones: IE 5.5 uses four security zones instead of three, so you need to redefine the zones after you complete the update.
  • Toolbar icon problems: Some of the toolbar icons disappear and don't return until you exit and restart the browser. To correct this problem, contact Microsoft Support for the update, a new version of shdocvw.dll released January 8.

IE 5.5 Security Updates
If you upgrade to IE 5.5 SP1, you should probably follow up by installing two security updates. The first, security bulletin MS00-055, dated August 9, 2000, contains code fixes that close five separate security loopholes. You can download the update from the Microsoft Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/download/critical/patch11.htm). The second update, security bulletin MS00-093, dated December 1, 2000, eliminates security problems that can arise from printing and file uploads via forms, and it blocks new variations of previously identified problems with scriptlets and frames. You can download this update from the Microsoft Web site.