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May 30, 2002—In this issue:
- Informal Survey Results: How You Control What Users Install on Their Office Computers
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Intel Price Cuts Run Deep
- SQL Server Magazine—Get Your Free Preview Issue
- Raising Windows 2000 Availability—Free Webinar
- Tip: Using NetBEUI with Windows XP
- Featured Thread: Client Certificates
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Erase Your Internet Activity
- Pop-Up Ad Blocking
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(David Chernicoff, News Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Last week, I asked Windows Client UPDATE readers who have user-support responsibilities how they handle controlling their mobile users' ability to install applications on company-owned computers. I seem to have touched a nerve: I received a number of responses, ranging from barely suppressed rage to suggestions for software to control user-installation capabilities. (And, of course, a few readers asked what the problem is in letting users install unapproved applications!)
One of the most common responses I received is that administrators lock down user access to company-owned computers completely, never giving laptop-computer users sufficient privileges to install applications or services. However, almost every message I received that recommended locking down also mentioned that users complain that they can't attach their laptops to printers outside the office. A year or so ago, I wrote about this particular problem; I'd been hearing from users who needed to add printers while they were at client sites but couldn't because their systems were locked down. Reader opinion at that time was to let users install printers and very little else. Obviously, if a laptop user's job requires the ability to print anywhere, you need to find a way to accommodate that need.
Some readers treated the concern about installing unapproved software with flexibility; if a user does something to his or her system that causes a problem, the IT staff will devote a small amount of time to fix it. If IT can't solve the problem, the IT staff wipes everything from the computer and reinstalls the base corporate image. Most of the readers who provided this response said that this strategy usually works; few users want to rebuild their desktop and reconfigure their applications for their personal preferences more than once or twice. (Think of this strategy as aversion therapy for your corporate users.) I really like this solution; to a certain extent, it moves the responsibility for the computer to the computer user, making it harder to blame IT for computer problems. I've worked with users who needed complete access to their laptop-computer resources and who installed applications and utilities that broke those laptops on a regular basis. Maintaining a zero-tolerance approach to supporting those users significantly reduced the support headaches this group of users caused. (This zero-tolerance policy usually meant that if the computer was delivered to our IT department in the same state it was when our staff delivered it, we'd fix the machine; if the problem was caused by something the user installed, we would reinstall only the base image.)
One set of readers responded primarily to the issue of user-installed applications that suck up network bandwidth. These readers suggested solutions that range from port blocking at the firewall to installing applications that log, track, and stop what IT policy identifies as inappropriate Internet traffic. Such a policy tends to bring visions of big-brother software to mind, but as I've learned more about what really goes on in large corporate enterprises, I've become far less resistant to the idea of a company using those types of applications—within reason. I've just seen too many users spending a significant part of their workday surfing the Internet for what I would diplomatically describe as non-business-related content.
The last group of email messages I received was from vendors who make products that extend group and system policies. I heard from only one reader who was using such a product, but apparently at least a half-dozen solutions are available that can fine-tune the use of policies to control the way users interact with their computers. I think this category of software has potential for solving the problem of users installing unapproved applications, so I'll be contacting these vendors for copies of their software for review. I'll let you know what my reviews turn up.
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, email@example.com)
Intel, the world's leading microprocessor maker, routinely slashes prices to drive demand for new products and fend off competition from AMD, but the company's latest price cuts are unusually large; certain chips fell in price more than 50 percent. This past weekend, Intel announced its new microprocessor price list, which includes steep price cuts all around but especially for the company's new Mobile Pentium 4 Processor - M (Pentium 4-M) chips, which haven't sold as well as expected.
On the desktop front, Intel reduced the Pentium 4 2.4GHz microprocessor 29 percent, from $562 to $400; the 2.26GHz and 2.2GHz chips fell 43 percent, from $423 to $241; and the company reduced other Pentium 4 desktop chips as much as 32 percent.
Intel's mobile microprocessors experienced even bigger reductions. The Pentium 4-M 1.7GHz chip fell 53 percent, from $508 to $241, and the 1.8GHz version fell 45 percent, from $637 to $348. Intel reduced the 1.6GHz Pentium 4-M microprocessor 51 percent, from $401 to $198.
Major PC makers, such as Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM, and others, will probably drop PC prices soon to reflect lower chip costs. Such a move would reverse a short-term PC price hike that occurred earlier this year because of rising memory and LCD-screen costs.
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(contributed by David Chernicoff, firstname.lastname@example.org)
A friend sent me an email recently to complain about his company's decision to upgrade its client computers to Windows XP. The problem isn't that he doesn't like XP; from his perspective, XP works fine and even runs a legacy application that the company previously needed to run on Windows 9x. My friend's complaint is that Microsoft no longer supports NetBEUI when you upgrade to XP, and his company has an application that uses NetBEUI. He could switch to using TCP/IP instead, but he says that, to do so, he's looking at about a month's worth of extra work to transition this functioning application—and he isn't too happy about that.
Fortunately, he picked the right person to complain to: I know that although Microsoft no longer supports NetBEUI, the company still ships NetBEUI with XP for user installation. Simply follow these steps to install NetBEUI on the XP client machine.
- From the folder Valueadd\MSFT\Net\NetBEUI on the XP distribution media, copy the file nbf.sys to your WINNT\System32\Drivers folder.
- Copy netnbf.inf to the WINNT\Inf folder. Usually, this folder is hidden, so you'll need to make it visible in Windows Explorer from Tools,Folder Options,View menu,Show hidden files and folders on the folder menu.
- Open Network Connections.
- Right-click the Network Connection on which you want to install NetBEUI and select Properties.
- Select the General tab.
- Click Install.
- Click Protocol.
- Click Add.
- Select NetBEUI from the drop-down menu.
- Click OK.
- When the installation completes, reboot the computer.
Malar wants to know whether Pocket PC's Pocket Internet Explorer (PIE) supports client certificates. Can you help? Join the discussion at the following URL:
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Judy Drennen, email@example.com)
Acesoft released Tracks Eraser Pro, Internet privacy-protection software that easily and quickly erases all traces of your Internet activity. The software deletes what you accumulate from Web surfing on Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Netscape, Opera, and other Internet software programs and frees up disk space. A single click removes files from your cache, cookies, and history folders. Tracks Eraser Pro costs $29.95 for a single-user license with free upgrades and runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Me, and Windows 9x. Contact Acesoft at 877-353-7297 or visit the Web site:
k.soft released PopupDummy! 2.4, its automatic pop-up advertisement-blocking solution for Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Me, and Windows 9x. PopupDummy! detects and blocks ads before you see them. PopupDummy! costs $18 per license. Contact k.soft at 215-969-8590, or visit the Web site:
6. CONTACT US
Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:
- ABOUT THE COMMENTARY — firstname.lastname@example.org
- ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL — email@example.com
(please mention the newsletter name in the subject line)
- TECHNICAL QUESTIONS — http://www.winnetmag.net/forums
- PRODUCT NEWS — firstname.lastname@example.org
- QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR Windows Client UPDATE SUBSCRIPTION?
Customer Support — email@example.com
- WANT TO SPONSOR Windows Client UPDATE?
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