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(below COMMENTARY)


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October 22, 2002—In this issue:

1. COMMENTARY

  • Freshness Dating: Microsoft Formalizes, Standardizes Product Support

2. HOT OFF THE PRESS

  • Microsoft: Record Quarterly Results an "Anomaly"

3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT

  • The Ever-Morphing Mrxsmb

4. ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Subscribe to Windows & .NET Magazine and Receive an eBook Gift!
  • Connect at Microsoft's Premier European Infrastructure Conference

5. HOT RELEASES (ADVERTISEMENTS)

  • Free Download - New Release - NetOp v7.5
  • Just Released - Web Timesheet 4.5
  • VeriSign - The Value of Trust

6. INSTANT POLL

  • Results of Previous Poll: Memory Upgrades
  • New Instant Poll: Microsoft .NET Framework

7. RESOURCES

  • Featured Thread: Error Reporting
  • Tip: Why Are the Network Shares Still Active in Windows 2000 After I Unbind the "Client for Microsoft Networks" Service?

8. NEW AND IMPROVED

  • Learn More About Windows Installer Technology
  • Reset the Administrator Password

9. CONTACT US

  • See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

1. COMMENTARY
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, thurrott@winnetmag.com)

  • SOFTWARE FRESHNESS DATING: MICROSOFT STANDARDIZES PRODUCT SUPPORT

  • Last week, Microsoft announced that it will standardize the support lifetime for all its products, a decision that should please customers. Previously, the company had standardized the support lifetime only for its Windows OS products, but the new plan extends to all Microsoft products and lengthens the amount of time the company will support many Windows versions. The plan applies to customers worldwide, not just in the United States.

    Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Product Support Services (PSS) Lori Moore says that the decision to standardize the product support lifetime was a direct result of customer feedback. Now, she says, corporate customers, especially, will have a clearer understanding of when to expect new product releases and product support retirements. "Providing a roadmap and a policy based on years, rather than versions, can help enable best practices in planning and budgeting," she noted.

    With Microsoft's new product support plan, business and development software programs, such as Windows, Microsoft Office, and Visual Studio .NET, now include 5 years of mainstream support—that is, no-charge incident support, paid incident support, support charged on an hourly basis, warranty claims support, and hotfix support—measured from the date of the product's general availability. After 5 years, the product enters a 2-year extended support phase, which includes assisted support charged on an hourly basis and security hotfix support. To receive nonsecurity hotfix support, customers must purchase an extended hotfix-support contract within the first 90 days of a product's extended support phase. Once this phase begins, Microsoft won't provide warranty support or accept requests for design changes or new features. At the conclusion of the extended support phase, the product enters an online self-help support phase, in which customers will continue to have access to Knowledge Base articles, FAQs, troubleshooting tools, and other online resources on Microsoft's Web site. This phase will last 1 year or more, depending on the product. During the online self-help support phase, Microsoft won't provide any direct customer support for the product, except in situations in which support is required by law or when the company offers assisted support and hotfix support for certain core products. Also, some of Microsoft's strategic partners might offer support for certain products after the extended support phase ends.

    Support for consumer products, hardware devices, and multimedia software is similar to the corporate support program, except that Microsoft won't provide an extended support phase for these products. Instead, these products now include a 5-year mainstream support phase, followed by an online self-help support phase, which will last at least 3 years. In both the business and development and consumer/hardware/multimedia software support scenarios, Microsoft now guarantees at least 8 years of support.

    Microsoft has also changed its service pack policies. In the past, the company supported only the most current service pack release for a given product. Now, Microsoft will support the two most recent versions. However, this support is available only during the mainstream support phase and applies only to products that you've purchased or licensed on or after October 15, 2002. Other products will continue to receive support for only the most current service pack.

    Support for security fixes and other hotfixes are another matter. Microsoft says that the company is now covering, at no additional cost, business and development product security fixes and hotfixes for 7 years, which takes these products through the mainstream and extended support phases. Microsoft now covers consumer product security fixes and other hotfixes for just 5 years.

    The new support guidelines cover only recent products. As a result, Microsoft will continue to cover many of the company's older products by different support timelines. For details on individual product version support lifetimes, visit the Microsoft Web site at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=fh;en-us;complifeport .

    The most interesting aspect of the new support policy is how it changes the length of support for Windows XP and Windows 2000. According to the previous Windows Desktop Product Life-Cycle Guidelines that the company published in February 2001, Microsoft would license Windows versions for 3 years, provide assisted support for 4 years, and permit volume license customers to downgrade licenses (say, from XP Professional to Win2K Professional) for 5 or more years. Under the new terms, license availability extends to 4 years, and downgrade rights and assisted support for these products increase to 7 or more years. These changes lengthen Microsoft's OS release cycle from the previous 2-to-3-year cycle to a 4-year cycle, which is excellent news for businesses, few of which were in tune with Microsoft's previous OS release schedule.

    For corporations with legacy Windows versions, however, time is running out. Microsoft will officially End-Of-Life (EOL) Windows NT 3.5, Windows 95, and Windows 3.x at the end of 2002. Windows 98, Win98 Second Edition (Win98SE), and NT 4.0, which are currently in the extended support phase, will enter a nonsupported phase after June 30, 2003 and will be EOL'd on June 30, 2004. But Win2K users have a long period of support ahead. The product is currently in its mainstream support phase and won't enter the extended support phase until March 31, 2005. Two years later, Win2K will enter its nonsupported phase, and will be EOL'd on March 31, 2008. XP Pro's milestones are about 18 months later than the respective Win2K dates: XP Pro will enter the extended support phase on December 31, 2006, the nonsupport phase on December 31, 2008, and the EOL phase on December 31, 2009.

    I've stated in the past that consumer demand for yearly Windows updates would force Microsoft to ship an interim Windows version between XP and the next Windows version (code-named Longhorn), currently due in 2005. Now I'm not so sure. These support timelines give credence to Microsoft's claim that it won't release a new Windows version until Longhorn. And if that claim turns out to be true, this new timeline also demonstrates that the company is serious about improving the security of its products before it introduces any exciting new functionality. In essence, we might be seeing the fruition of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative. And I think I can speak for most of the company's corporate accounts when I say that such a change is most welcome.


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    2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
    (contributed by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@winnetmag.com)

  • MICROSOFT: RECORD QUARTERLY RESULTS AN "ANOMALY"

  • Microsoft officials cast cold water on excited investors by downplaying the company's most recent financial results—a record first quarter in which the company posted $4.05 billion profit on revenues of $7.75 billion. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that last-minute software license sign-ups were largely responsible for the financial surge. Although the company was able to double its earnings for the quarter year-over-year, the current quarter is going to be a disappointment by comparison. More troubling to investors, however, was news that Microsoft is concerned about the strength of the overall PC market in the short term. For the complete story, visit the following URL:
    http://www.wininformant.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=27020

    3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
    (contributed by Paula Sharick, paula@winnetmag.com)

  • THE EVER-MORPHING MRXSMB

  • Most Microsoft platforms, including Windows 2000, use the Common Internet File System (CIFS) standard to implement file-and-print sharing. Win2K implements CIFS with an enhanced version of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, which explains the "smb" part of mrxsmb.sys. Two kernel-mode components initiate and manage remote connections, mrxsmb.sys and rdbss.sys. Together, these components create a remote session, perform the file system operations you request (e.g., open, close, read, or write a file or spool a print job), and terminate the session when you no longer need the resource. When a system encounters a problem connecting to or accessing a remote resource, you see event log warnings and error messages from mrxsmb.sys. In severe cases, mrxsmb.sys crashes with a veritable smorgasbord of stop codes.

    Mrxsmb writes event log messages when a network is alive and well and when a system has connectivity problems. For example, when you boot a system that claims to be the master browser, Mrxsmb writes event ID 8003 informing you that a new guy on the block attempted to take over the role of master browser and that a browser election has occurred. When you boot a system that is unable to contact a domain controller (DC) or a DNS server, you see multiple messages from Mrxsmb, including event ID 3034 "The redirector was unable to initialize security context or query context attributes" and event ID 3019 "The redirector failed to determine the connection type." Although event ID 3034 most often indicates a serious problem, the Microsoft article "Error Message: The Redirector Failed to Determine the Connection Type" states that you can safely ignore the event ID 3019 warning message.

    Unless you're exceptionally brilliant or exceptionally lucky, you've probably seen your share of Mrxsmb messages or blue screens. The good news is that you can't blame your lack of technical brilliance for some of these failures, especially the blue screens; they result from flaws in how the two redirector components interact with their remote counterparts. Microsoft has released no less than 12 bug fixes for mrxsmb.sys since April of this year. Find out more about these redirector problems and how to fix them at the following URL:
    http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=27037

    4. ANNOUNCEMENTS
    (brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

  • SUBSCRIBE TO WINDOWS & .NET MAGAZINE AND RECEIVE AN EBOOK GIFT!

  • Windows & .NET Magazine is a problem-solving manual designed to help systems administrators better manage their Windows 2000 and NT enterprise. Subscribe today and, with your paid subscription, you can choose from one of three eBooks on Active Directory, public key infrastructure, or automating tasks with VBScript. Subscribe now!
    http://www.winnetmag.com/rd.cfm?code=ebei202jup

  • CONNECT AT MICROSOFT'S PREMIER EUROPEAN INFRASTRUCTURE CONFERENCE

  • Microsoft IT Forum 2002 is your advance opportunity to get acquainted with Windows .NET Server 2003 and other latest versions of Microsoft technologies. Take advantage of more than 200 in-depth technical sessions and hands-on labs. Register now!
    http://www.microsoft.com/europe/itforum

    5. HOT RELEASES (ADVERTISEMENTS)

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  • VERISIGN - THE VALUE OF TRUST

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    6. INSTANT POLL

  • RESULTS OF PREVIOUS POLL: MEMORY UPGRADES

  • The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "How often do you upgrade memory on your client systems?" Here are the results (+/-2 percent) from the 139 votes:
    -  0% Every 3 months
    -  3% Every 6 months
    - 16% Every year
    - 81% Every 2 years or longer

  • NEW INSTANT POLL: MICROSOFT .NET FRAMEWORK

  • The next Instant Poll question is, "Has your enterprise implemented the Microsoft .NET Framework?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes or b) No.
    http://www.winnetmag.com/magazine

    7. RESOURCES

  • FEATURED THREAD: ERROR REPORTING

  • This user wants to know how to redirect error reporting to the local hard disk in Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1 (SP1). Join the discussion at the following URL:
    http://www.winnetmag.com/forums/rd.cfm?cid=36&tid=48256

  • TIP: WHY ARE THE NETWORK SHARES STILL ACTIVE IN WINDOWS 2000 AFTER I UNBIND THE "CLIENT FOR MICROSOFT NETWORKS" SERVICE?

  • (contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com)

    Unbinding the "Client for Microsoft Networks" service disables the remote procedure call (RPC) service but doesn't disable the Lanman Server service, which serves shares on your computer. To stop serving shares, either delete the shares or unbind the "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" service.

    To unbind the "Client for Microsoft Networks" and "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" services in Win2K, perform the following steps:

    1. Start the Control Panel Network applet (go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Network and Dial-up Connections; right-click Local Area Connection; and select Properties from the context menu).
    2. From the General tab, clear the "Client for Microsoft Networks" check box and clear the "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" check box. (To bind these services, select both check boxes.\}
    3. Click OK.

    8. NEW AND IMPROVED
    (contributed by Carolyn Mader, products@winnetmag.com)

  • LEARN MORE ABOUT WINDOWS INSTALLER TECHNOLOGY

  • Wise Solutions announced the sponsorship of a new free ebook, ″The Definitive Guide to Windows Installer Technology for System Administrators″ by Darwin Sanoy and Jeremy Moskowitz and in partnership with Realtimepublishers.com. The ebook provides information about the inner workings of Windows Installer technology and covers best practices for repackaging .msi installations. You can register for the ebook and receive email notifications when each chapter is available for download. Contact Wise Solutions at 734-456-2100.
    http://www.wise.com/ebook

  • RESET THE ADMINISTRATOR PASSWORD

  • Passware announced Windows Key, software that lets you log on to any Windows computer and reset an administrator password in the event of an administrator's unforeseen departure from the company. Windows Key also resets any security settings. The software supports Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT systems. You can purchase Windows Key as a standalone module for $195 or the enterprise version for $295.
    http://www.lostpassword.com

    9. CONTACT US
    Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:

    • ABOUT THE COMMENTARY — thurrott@winnetmag.com
    • ABOUT KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT — paula@winnetmag.com
    • ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL — gayle@winnetmag.com
      (please mention the newsletter name in the subject line)
    • TECHNICAL QUESTIONS — http://www.winnetmag.net/forums
    • PRODUCT NEWS — products@winnetmag.com
    • QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR WINDOWS & .NET MAGAZINE UPDATE SUBSCRIPTION?
      Customer Support — winnetmagupdate@winnetmag.com

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