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(below COMMENTARY)


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January 21, 2003—In this issue:

1. COMMENTARY

  • 2003: The Year of Spam

2. HOT OFF THE PRESS

  • Microsoft Posts Record Revenues, Announces Stock Split and Dividend

3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT

  • Windows XP SP1 SMB Hotfix Update
  • Win2K SP3 and SP2 Terminal Services Bug Fix
  • Win2K SP3 Msgina Startup Error
  • Unusual Win2K SP3 SMB Error

4. ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Catch the Microsoft Mobility Tour—Time Is Running Out!
  • Windows Scripting Solutions for the Systems Administrator

5. HOT RELEASE (ADVERTISEMENT)

  • NTT/Verio - Dedicated Servers with NO SET UP FEE

6. INSTANT POLL

  • Results of Previous Poll: Microsoft .NET Framework
  • New Instant Poll: Mobile Devices

7. RESOURCE

  • Tip: How Can I Restore My System By Using an Automated System Recovery (ASR) Backup?

8. NEW AND IMPROVED

  • Back Up Your Documents and Folders
  • Free Up Disk Space
  • Submit Top Product Ideas

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)

  • 2003: THE YEAR OF SPAM

  • Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs recently described 2003 as "the year of the notebook" because he sees notebook sales starting to eclipse sales of desktop PCs. Various open-source pundits have described 2003 as the year of Linux because that OS is widely expected to continue eating into Microsoft's market share and technological lead. But as far as I'm concerned, 2003 is the year of spam. And I'm not going to take it anymore. I suggest you do likewise.

    Spam is an escalating problem. According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, more than 40 percent of all email is spam, up from just 13 percent a year earlier. By the end of this year, spam will account for more than half of all email; some enterprises are reporting that spam is already more than 80 percent of their incoming email. In America, almost half of all spam received comes from overseas. Most alarmingly, spam is evolving from a nuisance to a business threat, with volume email creating a Denial of Service (DoS)-style attack, bringing email servers to their virtual knees.

    Finally, however, various groups are looking to end this plague. After years of ineffectual responses to spam, Congress appears poised to pass a law that would require spammers to let consumers opt-out from email lists. And the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently shut down six online marketers for selling fake international drivers licenses. Interestingly, the FTC has asked US consumers to forward the agency spam for analysis and potential prosecution, and the agency collects roughly 75,000 spam messages a day. However, because spam isn't technically illegal in the United States, as it should be, few cases are brought against spammers.

    Government action will likely be an important component in the fight against spam going forward, but we need more immediate action. Recently, two groups of geeks met—one in Hawaii and one in Cambridge, Massachusetts—to discuss ways to battle spam. Last week in Hawaii, the Global Internet Project (GIP) held a workshop to discuss how enterprises are trying to battle spam, noting that US companies lose millions of dollars a year as employees spend work time opening and deleting spam. Also last week, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, more than 500 programmers, hackers, IT administrators, and researchers gathered for a technical look at the concerns facing spam fighters. The problem, presenters noted, is that spammers are constantly adapting their techniques to overcome established spam-fighting techniques.

    MIT's spam conference was originally expected to draw less than 70 people, and its swollen ranks indicate that the techie crowd is finally waking to the challenge. Attendees concluded that to defeat spam, they must destroy the spam business model. And to do so, programmers are working on a spam filter so effective that spammers would receive no responses and thus give up their efforts. Currently, the best spam filters are based on a scheme called Bayesian filtering, which assigns statistical probabilities to words to determine whether an email message is spam. Spam filters based on Bayesian filtering are often more than 99 percent effective, and this technology is currently in use in alpha versions of Mozilla Mail, Apple's OS X Mail.app, and MSN 8 email. During a recent trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), I used Mail.app for email on an Apple iBook, and it eliminated almost 500 spam messages over 7 days, without any training. When I returned home and opened Microsoft Outlook, which I've outfitted with a commercial, non-Bayesian spam filter, the spam returned in droves; I received more than 50 spam messages the first morning alone.

    However, Bayesian filtering might ultimately be replaced by more effective technologies that can adapt, much as spam adapts. "Current systems all have one hole that spammers love to sneak through: They can't adapt," says Jason Rennie, who represented the MIT AI Lab at the conference. "Hand-crafted rule-based classifiers have static rules. Bayesian approaches use static pre-processing that ignores \[characters such as\] '!!!!' and/or \[Far East text\]. We need a new approach—a way to dynamically learn patterns that can identify spam." Rennie presented a compression-based algorithm that might offer an intriguing solution to this problem.

    As exciting as the legal and technical possibilities are, more can be done to fight spam. As the maker of the most widely used messaging server solution in the world, Exchange Server, Microsoft isn't doing enough to battle spam. This year, the company will release a new Exchange version, Exchange Server 2003 (formerly code-named Titanium) and an all-new Outlook 11 client. Given that Microsoft has rolled out Bayesian filtering in its consumer-oriented MSN service, you might assume that the company is meeting the spam challenge head-on with its new enterprise messaging products. But Microsoft is doing virtually nothing to battle spam in these products. On the Outlook side, Outlook 11 includes no new spam-fighting tools—only the manual, user-oriented filtering scheme from previous versions. (Outlook 11, however, won't load images in HTML email, by default, which could help prevent viruses; I don't consider this an effective spam tool in any way.) With Exchange 2003, Microsoft is adding a weak blacklist feature that you must constantly update for it to be even remotely effective. I find it insulting that Microsoft would even consider offering new messaging solutions that include such meager antispam technologies.

    I'm in Redmond this week, and I'll be meeting with representatives of the Exchange team. I'll use this opportunity to let them know how I feel about spam. If you're tired of the spam deluge and think Microsoft needs to do more to fight it, let me know. I'll forward your feedback to Microsoft.

    Resources
    MIT Spam Conference
    FTC: E-Commerce and the Internet

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

  • MICROSOFT POSTS RECORD REVENUES, ANNOUNCES STOCK SPLIT AND DIVIDEND

  • Microsoft announced record quarterly revenues for the quarter ending December 31, 2002, raking in $8.54 billion, a 10 percent increase over the same quarter a year earlier. Additionally, the company announced its first-ever annual dividend and approved a two-for-one split on Microsoft common stock. All in all, it was another bravura financial performance from the software giant, which has consistently bucked economic trends while its competitors struggle to keep up. For the complete story, visit the following URL: http://www.wininformant.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=37703

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

  • WINDOWS XP SP1 SMB HOTFIX UPDATE

  • Last week, I described two patches you can apply to Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows 2000 systems to eliminate XP errors when you access files hosted on a Server Message Block (SMB)-enabled Win2K server. Readers in the United States, France, Sweden, and Slovenia wrote to tell me that the XP security hotfix MS02-070 (see Microsoft Security Bulletin MS02-070—Flaw in SMB Signing Could Enable Group Policy to be Modified) won't install on XP SP1 systems. Read more about this problem and its solution at the following URL:
    http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=37726

    WEB-EXCLUSIVE ARTICLES: The following items are posted on the Windows & .NET Magazine Web site. For the complete story, use the following link and scroll to the appropriate article.
    http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=37726

  • WIN2K SP3 AND SP2 TERMINAL SERVICES BUG FIX

  • The userinit.exe module in Win2K SP3 and SP2 systems might fail when a user logs on as a Win2K Server Terminal Services client.

  • WIN2K SP3 MSGINA STARTUP ERROR

  • A timing problem specific to Win2K SP3 can prevent the mpr.dll from starting.

  • UNUSUAL WIN2K SP3 SMB ERROR

  • Here's an SMB protocol problem that can produce the error message "The network BIOS command limit has been reached" on Win2K SP3 systems that manage multiple concurrent requests from the same Win2K client.

    4. ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • CATCH THE MICROSOFT MOBILITY TOUR—TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

  • This outstanding seven-city event will help you support your growing mobile workforce. Industry guru Paul Thurrott discusses the coolest mobility hardware solutions around, demonstrates how to increase the productivity of your "road warriors" with the unique features of Windows XP and Office XP, and much more. You could also win an HP iPAQ Pocket PC. There is no charge for these live events, but space is limited, so register today! Sponsored by Microsoft, HP, and Toshiba.

    http://www.winnetmag.com/seminars/mobility

  • WINDOWS SCRIPTING SOLUTIONS FOR THE SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATOR

  • You might not be a programmer, but that doesn't mean you can't learn to create and deploy timesaving, problem-solving scripts. Discover Windows Scripting Solutions, the monthly print publication that helps you tackle common problems and automate everyday tasks with simple tools, tricks, and scripts. Try a sample issue today at
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    5. HOT RELEASE (ADVERTISEMENT)

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    6. INSTANT POLL

  • RESULTS OF PREVIOUS POLL: MICROSOFT .NET FRAMEWORK

  • The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Has your organization implemented the Microsoft .NET Framework yet?" Here are the results from the 223 votes.
    • 20% Yes
    • 13% No, but we plan to in 2003
    • 67% No, and we have no plans to implement it

    (Deviations from 100 percent are due to rounding error.)

  • NEW INSTANT POLL: MOBILE DEVICES

  • The next Instant Poll question is, "What is your company policy about the use of mobile devices?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) We allow company-owned devices only, b) Individuals can use their own devices—with restrictions, or c) We have no company policy for mobile devices.
    http://www.winnetmag.com/magazine

    7. RESOURCES

  • TIP: HOW CAN I RESTORE MY SYSTEM BY USING AN AUTOMATED SYSTEM RECOVERY (ASR) BACKUP?

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

    If you experience a core-OS corruption in Windows XP and you've created an ASR backup, you can use the ASR backup to restore your system by performing the following steps:

    1. Boot from your original XP media.
    2. If prompted, press a key to boot the system from the CD-ROM.
    3. During the text mode portion of setup, press F2 to initiate an ASR restore.
    4. When prompted, insert the ASR 3.5" backup disk and follow the onscreen instructions.

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

  • BACK UP YOUR DOCUMENTS AND FOLDERS

  • Argentum Software released Argentum Backup 1.9, backup software for your documents and folders. The software also protects your files from accidental deletes, overwrites, and viruses. Included templates back up the Windows registry, Windows shell settings, email messages, and address book. Argentum Backup runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Me, and Windows 9x systems. A single-user license costs $25. Contact Argentum Software at 206-984-1007.
    http://www.argentuma.com

  • FREE UP DISK SPACE

  • KanadePro.com released ShowSize 3.2.5, software that lets you view the space occupied on your disk—sorted by folders, folder trees, and file extensions. You can use the software to identify large folders easily. When you need to free up some disk space, drill down within the folder by using various techniques to view which files are taking valuable disk space. The software features a Windows Explorer-like interface. ShowSize runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Me, and Windows 9x systems. Pricing is $25 for a single-user license and includes a 2-year upgrade protection. Contact KanadePro.com at support@kanadepro.com.
    http://www.showsize.com

  • SUBMIT TOP PRODUCT IDEAS

  • Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to whatshot@winnetmag.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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