Windows Client UPDATE--Microsoft's Latest Forays into Toolbars and IM--July 22, 2004

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1. Commentary: Microsoft's Latest Forays into Toolbars and IM

2. News & Views
- DOJ Scrutinizes Microsoft's Longhorn Plans

3. Resources
- Tip: Disable Simple Service Discovery Protocol in Windows XP
- Featured Thread: Unattended NT 4.0 to XP Pro Upgrade

4. New and Improved
- Dekart Logon Removes the Hassle of Multiple Passwords
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary: Microsoft's Latest Forays into Toolbars and IM ====

by David Chernicoff, david@winnetmag.com

Usually I try to focus on a single topic in this commentary, but this week I have several Microsoft-related items to talk about. The first is Microsoft's first Internet Explorer (IE) Toolbar release, the MSN Toolbar.

Many of you have probably experienced browser hijacks and unwanted toolbar installations that were instigated by Internet malicious software (malware) programs. In my column "Windows Disk-Management Tools and the Google Toolbar" (http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=40560), I pointed out that the Google toolbar was a fairly effective pop-up blocker and a sensible choice for many users. Recently, Microsoft jumped on the toolbar and pop-up blocker bandwagon with its own entry, the MSN Toolbar.

Frankly, if you're an MSN user, the MSN Toolbar isn't a bad idea. It's unobtrusive, provides one-click access to MSN, My MSN, MSN Messenger, and Hotmail; and offers effective pop-up blocking. The MSN Toolbar is easy to configure and is a small (603KB) download. If you're looking for a pop-up blocking tool, this free download is worth a look. And, if you're an active user of MSN resources, the MSN Toolbar gives you an easy way to access those resources. You can download the MSN Toolbar at http://toolbar.msn.com.

IM for Work...
I've written several columns about Instant Messaging (IM), addressing topics such as how to handle the problems IM can cause for a company and how to install tools that make using IM easier and safer. I'm well aware of the mixed feelings that IM arouses in corporate IT managers and understand IM's benefits and risks.

In a press release dated July 15, Microsoft announced that its next-generation IM server, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005, which will be available in fourth quarter 2004, will support interoperability with AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger. By providing this interoperability, Microsoft hopes to facilitate implementation of IM-enabled applications and provide broader acceptance of IM technologies in the workplace. The press release, which you can read at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2004/jul04/07-15enterpriseimconnectivitypr.asp, explains the position of Microsoft and other key IM vendors on IM interoperability and why it's an important adjunct to business communications. I agree with most of the release's IM assessment; my initial experience with IM was as a business-communications tool, and I've found it moderately useful over the years. I can easily see how business productivity can be improved with a good IM infrastructure and IM application integration.

... and Play
What really caught my attention, though, wasn't merely the press release but its juxtaposition with a release from a week earlier--"Flirting's Moved Online! New Research From MSN Reveals Millions Swap IM Addresses With Potential Dates"--at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2004/jul04/07-08flirtingpr.asp. This earlier release, dated July 8, highlights a serious concern of IT managers who are considering allowing IM in their enterprise. The notion that nearly 40 percent of IM users admit to using it to flirt online is an idea that's guaranteed to send shivers through the heart of any IT professional.

IM might be the next wave in corporate communications. Just make sure that you're knowledgeable about products that let you monitor and control IM usage to keep your company safe.

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==== 2. News & Views ====

by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@winnetmag.com

DOJ Scrutinizes Microsoft's Longhorn Plans
The Longhorn release might still be years away, but the OS has already come under the watchful eye of the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which wants to ensure that Microsoft's next major OS conforms to the company's US antitrust settlement terms. A DOJ lawyer informed a federal judge yesterday that the agency would like to have full access to Longhorn as early as possible so that Microsoft won't be able to later represent its feature set as unchangeable because it's been under development for so long. "While Longhorn is not scheduled for release for some time, plaintiffs believe that early attention to these issues will enable plaintiffs and Microsoft to address any potential concerns in a timely manner, before the final structure of the product is locked into place," DOJ regulators and Microsoft said in a joint filing.

Microsoft has delayed Longhorn innumerable times, although the software giant has never publicly announced an expected release date. Recent roadmap information from the company pegs the earliest possible Longhorn release date at mid-2006, however, and internal documentation I've recently viewed confirms that schedule. With at least 2 years to go, Longhorn is still at a phase in which its feature set could change dramatically, and the DOJ clearly wants to review Microsoft's plans before that situation changes.

The DOJ might be in for a nasty surprise, however, because Longhorn will likely contain numerous technologies with which the agency will take exception. The DOJ's original antitrust case centered around Microsoft's practice of harming competition by bundling technology in its dominant Windows OSs. In the wake of the US antitrust case, the company has curiously increased its technology-integration practices, even touting recent releases' "integration innovation." Longhorn will be more of the same--integrated search functionality that seems designed to knock competitors such as Google and Yahoo! out of the search business. Other technologies, such as digital-media integration, security, and virus scanning, could also potentially harm competitors.

DOJ lawyers will meet with Microsoft executives next week at the company's Redmond campus to discuss several matters, including Longhorn. A Microsoft spokesperson said that the company expects to ship Longhorn while its US antitrust settlement is still in place and that it will adhere to the agreement.

In related news, DOJ and Microsoft representatives recently met to discuss the status of Microsoft's compliance with the settlement. According to US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is overseeing Microsoft's compliance, the company is making satisfactory progress. She also praised Microsoft's decision to extend its technology-licensing program by 2 years.

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==== 3. Resources ====

Tip: Disable Simple Service Discovery Protocol in Windows XP

(contributed by David Chernicoff, david@winnetmag.com)

A reader emailed me with an interesting problem. It seemed that his new Windows XP computers exhibited some strange behavior when they booted up. His users booted the computers--which loaded XP quickly-- then logged on. After that, the desktop appeared, but when a user tried to launch any programs, the mouse pointer changed to an hourglass when the user moved it over the taskbar and anything the user clicked didn't launch until after a significant (30-second to 2-minute) delay.

Although I haven't seen this behavior often, I know it isn't actually a bug. The delay occurs because the computer is running Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) to search the network for Universal Plug and Play (UpnP) devices. If you aren't using any UPnP devices, you can disable this default service as follows:

  1. Open the Administrative Tools folder (select Start, Settings, Control Panel, then click Administrative Tools).
  2. Double-click the Services icon.
  3. In the right pane, scroll down to SSDP Discovery Service.
  4. Right-click the service and select Properties from the context menu.
  5. Change the Startup Type value to Disabled.
  6. Click OK and close the Services applet.

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Dekart Logon Removes the Hassle of Multiple Passwords

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