This week, I’m over my frustration with the Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack. I’m happy to report that Office Server Extensions are now installed and fully functional—I can create Web Folders at will, save Word and PowerPoint documents as HTML files, create and populate subwebs with Office 2000 objects, and access files at my own FTP site and from an Internet FTP site. However, I’m not sure I could recreate this working system perfectly in one pass. And so, I’d like to recast last week’s commentary in the form of a well-considered Option Pack improvement list. Microsoft should:

  • Ship a new NT Option Pack CD-ROM with current files (not 6-month-old files).
  • Add an Internet Information Server (IIS) 4.0 uninstall that preserves IIS 3.0.
  • Remove the mandatory dependencies so we can install and remove any combination of products (if possible).
  • Consider a "detect and repair" feature for the NT Option Pack.

From your email, I see that many of you identified with my frustration. Several readers recommended reinstalling IIS 4.0 instead of reverting back to IIS 3.0. I went through the IIS 2.0 and IIS 3.0 reinstallation because without IIS 3.0 to upgrade, the NT Option Pack forces you to install several components that you might not want or need.

I also received several messages lambasting my competence and questioning my skill set. I’d like my critics to understand that this was my first experience with the Option Pack, and I consider the penalty for missing one installation option (Upgrade Installed Components Only) to be pretty stiff. After working with Office 2000 for a couple of months, I’ve become a great fan of the Detect and Repair option, commonly referred to as the self-healing feature. I’d like to encourage Microsoft to implement this feature for the NT Option Pack and all applications that have rigid and intertwined product dependencies. We can then get on with the business of deploying applications instead of struggling with a fragile house of cards that tumbles when some obscure DLL file is missing.

I really enjoyed your feedback. Thank you all for your encouragement, support, and suggestions. While perusing your messages, I laughed out loud, groaned, and cringed, and I particularly enjoyed one catch-22 story dealing with SNA server and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) Service Pack 2 (SP2). If you’re willing to go public, I’d like to request that you post your comments at the Windows NT Magazine Web site (http://www.winntmag.com). That way, we can share our collective knowledge. To post or read feedback, follow the link in UPDATE or find the current article by selecting Keeping Up with NT from the Quick Nav drop-down list. On the article page, scroll to the end and click "Give us your comments" or "See what others had to say." Of course, you can always send comments directly to me—the magazine’s editorial policy requires that we get your permission before publishing your comments on the Web. Here are some comments that really hit home:

"Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations installing (and reinstalling, and reinstalling) the NT Option pack. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to reinstall the Option Pack, requiring reinstallations of services packs, patches, data access components, etc. It's nice to know that I'm not alone."

"I just finished reading your piece on installing "WINDOWS NT OPTION PACK NIGHTMARES" in the WinNTMag-UPDATE newsletter. It gave a frightening chuckle since I had gone down that road a couple of months ago. I was left screaming at my screen and thinking very evil thoughts about the Microsoft programmers."

"You are right on with your description of installing IIS4. I had a similar situation just last week. It's to the point where I'm almost afraid to make any major changes to my server for fear I'll have to reinstall IIS4 again. Great commentary."

To read more feedback from last week’s column, go to http://www.winntmag.com/Articles/Index.cfm? ArticleID=7179&Action= Feedback<http://www.winntmag.com/Articles/Index.cfm? ArticleID=7179&Action=Feedback>

Hidden Drives and Desktop Shortcuts in Service Packs 4 and 5
If you have desktop shortcuts to applications or folders installed on local drives and a system policy that prevents access to local drives, the shortcuts won’t work after you install Service Pack 4 (SP4) or SP5. When you click a desktop shortcut, you’ll see the message "This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator."

There are two possible culprits: a system policy option that enables Hide Drives in My Computer (a User-Shell-Restrictions checkbox), and a computer policy that tells the NoDrives option to hide local drives in Windows NT Explorer (the NoDrives option is a Registry modification, not a built-in system-policy checkbox). These restrictions incorrectly prohibit shortcut access to locally installed applications and folders. You can obtain the bug fix, a new version of shell32.dll, from Microsoft Support. Read more about these issues in Microsoft Support Online articles Q238218 (http://support.microsoft.com/ support/kb/articles/q238/2/18.asp) and Q240414 (http://support.microsoft.com/ support/kb/articles/Q240/4/14.asp).