I obtain a great deal of troubleshooting and support information for this column from the support site hotfix lists. Locating the current hotfix lists at support.microsoft.com or support.microsoft.com/partners is difficult if not impossible, and the current search engine won’t produce the hotfix lists. However, if you know the secret URL, you can scan lists of all published hotfixes, organized by server and desktop OSs, database technologies, messaging, Systems Management Server (SMS), desktop applications, and Internet applications.

You might expect the most recent list of hotfixes for server OSs to be current as of the day you scan the list. But when you click the server OS category, you see that Microsoft hasn't updated the server bug list since the end of September, and thus the list is 6 weeks out-of-date. The Microsoft Content Manager responsible for this list says that the outdated server hotfix list is intentional. "Due to all the changes to existing content for our new internal knowledge management tool launch, there are nearly 7000 articles that we would have to click through individually in order to generate the lists. We are in the process of automating these lists and hope to have them live shortly after November 8 when our new tool is online and publishing to the Web." I’m both eager and skeptical about the new internal knowledge management tool. If we’re lucky, the next version will be smarter, more accurate, and more timely.

While I was researching the Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) network file problems I discussed last week, the Microsoft support search engine located an article that documents the symptoms a client experiences as a result of the Server Message Block (SMB) bug. Curiously, the search engine produced one version of the article and a direct query of the same article number produced a different document. Microsoft says the disparity was probably a synchronization problem: "This article was updated on October 22, 2002.... We believe this \[was\] an indexing problem that you were seeing. By searching for the Q#, you may have found a version of the article on a server that wasn't synched yet." To be fair, I’ve never before encountered two different documents linked to the same article, and I’d place the problem pretty low on the fix-me list.

Last, I searched Microsoft support for a link to the Windows 2000 post-SP3 bug list. Although I remember reading through this list in the past, I’ve been unable to find it for several months. The search engine doesn’t know where the list is, and neither does the master hotfix page at the secret URL I gave you earlier. You'll find the link to post-SP3 hotfixes published in the SP3 release article "How to Obtain the Latest Windows 2000 Service Pack". The direct link to the official post-SP3 hotfix list, which contains 282 entries as of November 5, is http://support.microsoft.com/support/servicepacks/windows/2000/post-sp3_hotfixes.asp. If the new knowledge management system works as advertised, we might be able to view bug lists that are current as of the day we query them. What an awesome concept!