Windows 2000 Critical Update
It’s time for a Windows 2000 (Win2K) bug update. Microsoft released a Critical Update on February 17 that closes two Index Server security vulnerabilities, eliminates a file-corruption problem that arises when you save Word 2000 and Excel 2000 files in .htm format, and corrects a Visual Basic (VB) scripting date problem in a Wareki or Taiwan calendar (i.e., a non-Gregorian calendar). The Index Server vulnerabilities and the .htm file-corruption problems, which apply equally to Win2K and Windows NT 4.0, are significant. You can download the fixes here. If you want to perform an online update, go to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com and click Product Updates. Microsoft Support Online articles Q251170, Q252463 , Q252633, and Q253342 provide details about each of the bug fixes in the Critical Update download.

I installed the update on my Windows 2000 Professional (Win2K Pro) machine in just a few minutes, but I found six confusing messages in the system event log that initially made me doubt that the installation had succeeded. Each of the records, which had Event ID 64021, indicated a problem loading a .dll file such as webhits.dll or olepro32.dll in the dll cache, but the error code in each record stated that the operation completed successfully. Here’s the text of one of the records:

"The system file c:\winnt\system32\olepro32.dll could not be copied into the DLL cache. The specific error code is 0x00000000 \[The operation completed successfully.\] This file is necessary to maintain system stability."

When I checked the event log after rebooting, no other error messages appeared. My best guess is that these records fall into the white noise or obfuscation category, but if you have a different experience, be sure you let me know. When we’re patching a brand new OS, we deserve better results and clearer information. The folks that packaged the update could have paid more attention to the details so that we don’t end up scratching our heads after installing fixes that close gaping security holes.

The update also wrote a system event log record, Event ID 4359, with the text "Windows 2000 Hotfix Q253934 was installed" and created two keys in the Registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Hotfix. One key, Q147222, has no associated text except for an installed value entry; the other key, Q253934, indicates that the hotfix is pre-Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Other Windows 2000 Bug Fixes
Microsoft has released three more bug fixes you might want to apply to your Win2K systems. The first solves two solve Iomega Jaz drive problems, one corrects a crash that can result from an attempt to eject a tape or CD-ROM using the Control Panel’s Add/Remove Hardware applet, and one corrects a problem you might encounter if you try to save an Adobe FrameMaker file in .pdf format or as a file with print separations. The Jaz drive and FrameMaker patches are available for public download, but you have to call Microsoft Support for the update that eliminates the device-eject blue screen.

Iomega Jaz drive issues. Are you having problems with a Jaz drive and Win2K? If so, you’ll be happy to know that you can download a bug fix to correct two Iomega-specific problems. First, a Jaz drive might not start if you configure it with a SCSI ID of 0 to 4 or 7, but the drive will function properly if you configure it with a SCSI ID of 5 or 6. Second, Win2K doesn’t support SCSI commands on a parallel port device, and Iomega maps its Jaz drive tools using SCSI commands. Because of the latter conflict, a parallel port Jaz drive doesn’t appear in Iomega’s disk tools but properly displays in Windows Explorer and Disk Administrator. Microsoft Support Online articles Q253975 and Q251381 document these issues. You’ll find several other supporting articles if you select Windows 2000 and search for Iomega from the Microsoft Support Online search page. The bug fix, which is available for public download Microsoft, includes new versions of parallel-port drivers ppa.sys and ppa3.sys dated January 28, 2000.

Win2K crashes after you eject a device. Our first documented blue screen has appeared, and it occurs when you try to eject a device using Control Panel’s Add/Remove Hardware applet. Few of us eject tapes or devices in this fashion (it’s much easier to eject a tape from Ntbackup or a third-party backup utility), but we all want to avoid crashes. According to Microsoft Support Online article Q254611, the request causes Win2K to crash and display a Stop code of 0xA. Significantly, the bug fix includes changes to critical Win2K kernel components ntoskrnl.exe, ntkrnlmp.exe, ntkrnlpa.exe, and ntkrpamp.exe. You have to call Microsoft Support for this update fix. Because the fix changes the kernel, I suggest that you test it thoroughly before you release your updated systems for production use.

Saving Adobe FrameMaker files. It’s frustrating to work with Adobe FrameMaker if you can’t save files in .pdf format, isn’t it? Microsoft Support Online article Q252891 reports that FrameMaker generates an error message when you try to save a file using the Adobe .pdf file type or when you try to save a file with print separations on a Win2K system. The article provides no details about the cause of the problem, but it indicates that you can download a new version of pscript5.dll that corrects the problem from Microsoft.