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 Windows 2000

 Q - Home Networking with Windows 2000 Professional

 A - Get new Win2K capabilities and the best features of NT and Win98 in a
 peer-to-peer home network.

  1. With Windows 2000 Professional (Win2K Pro), you can easily set up a home network between desktops without using a server. In addition to combining some of the best features of Windows NT Workstation and Windows 98, Win2K Pro offers many new capabilities for home networking. Among the features you can enable are file and print sharing and Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), a nifty feature that lets several computers share one Internet connection. Add to this Win2K Pro's NT-style user account management and permissions, and you have a reasonably powerful engine for home networking. Win2K Pro is also strongly backward compatible. You can introduce Win2K Pro into a peer-to-peer networking setup between Win9x clients, or introduce Win9x clients into a Win2K Pro setup.
     
  2. Because Win2K Pro comes with NetBEUI and other legacy protocols, networking different generations of Windows clients isn't a problem. Most people will use TCP/IP as their primary transport protocol in a peer-to-peer Windows network. However, to resolve Windows computer names, you need to have NetBEUI installed

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 Windows XP

 Q -Unneeded Services in Windows XP
 
Disable unnecessary services to improve performance without sacrificing functionality.

 A - The code-bloat problem seems to get worse with every release of Windows—each new release seems to run slower than the preceding one. In most cases, the problem doesn't stem from the base OS code but from the fact that each new release tends to incorporate more functionality. One key area that continues to expand is services: Windows XP automatically starts 36 services. Few users need all those services, however, and by trimming back unused services, you can make your system run more efficiently.

To disable a service, open the Control Panel Services applet and double-click the service to open its Properties sheet. On the General tab, click the Startup type drop-down box and select Disabled. If you discover that you've lost important functionality, restart the service by resetting its Startup type to Automatic or Manual. Here are 10 XP services that you can consider turning off.

10. Automatic Updates service—Some users depend on Microsoft's Automatic Updates to keep their systems up-to-date and will want to leave this service enabled. Personally, I like to be in control of the updates that are applied to my systems, so I turn off Automatic Updates.

9. Messenger service—The Messenger service sends and receives messages that the Net Send command or the Alerter service has transmitted. If you don't use the Net Send function or receive Alerter messages, you can safely disable this service.

8.TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper service—If you're still running WINS and NetBIOS on your network, you'll want the TCP/IP NetBios Helper service to remain enabled. However, if you run only TCP/IP, you can probably eliminate this service.

7. Wireless Zero Configuration service—As its name suggests, the Wireless Zero Configuration service supports automatic configuration of 802.11 wireless connections. Mobile users of laptops and tablet PCs should probably leave this service active, but networked client systems usually have no need for wireless connections and can safely disable the service.

6. Upload Manager service—The Upload Manager service performs asynchronous file transfers. This service lets your system send Microsoft information that's used to search for drivers for your system. I prefer to explicitly manage the drivers I use, so I disable the Upload Manager service.

5. Task Scheduler service—The Task Scheduler lets your system automatically run programs and scripts at a prescheduled time. Some third-party virus scanners and backup utilities use this service; others install their own scheduling service. To see whether anything on your system uses this service, open the Scheduled Tasks folder in Control Panel. If the folder is empty, you probably can disable Task Scheduler without sacrificing functionality.

4. Error Reporting service—The Error Reporting service contacts Microsoft when applications encounter an error. At first, I thought this service was cool, but after taking the time to send an error report to Microsoft several dozen times for a variety of problems with no visible result, I gave up on this service as more trouble than it's worth.

3. Remote Registry service—The Remote Registry service lets you access and manipulate the registry on other networked systems. This service can be useful on administrative workstations, but it can also be a potentially serious security exposure on end users' network clients. I recommend disabling the Remote Registry service on most client systems.

2. Server service—The Server service provides remote procedure call (RPC) support as well as support for file and print serving. Although this service is necessary on server systems, it can pose a security risk on network clients that don't need to provide file and print serving.

1. Computer Browser service—The Computer Browser service maintains and publishes to network clients a list of computers that are on the network. Although this service is useful on one or two key servers, network clients usually shouldn't run this service.

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 Q - How can I uninstall the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine (JVM) from WindowsXP?

 A - You might want to remove the Microsoft JVM, which Microsoft no longer      supports, in favor of the more recent Sun Microsystems JVM. To remove the Microsoft JVM, perform the following steps:

  1. From the Start menu, select Run.
     
  2. Enter the command
    RunDll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection java.inf,UnInstall 

    to start the uninstall process
     

  3. Click Yes to the confirmation, then select Reboot.
     
  4. After the machine restarts, delete the following items:
     
    • the \%systemroot%\java folder
       
    • java.pnf from the \%systemroot%\inf folder
       
    • jview.exe and wjview.exe from the \%systemroot%\system32 folder
       
    • The HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Java VM registry subkey
       
    • The HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\AdvancedOptions\JAVA_VM registry subkey (to remove the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) options)

Microsoft Java is now removed. You can download Sun's newer JVM for Windows at

 http://java.sun.com/getjava/index.html.

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Windows 98/ME

Q - Error Message Using CTRL+ALT+DELETE to Shut Down with USB Keyboard

A - If this article does not describe the error message that you are receiving, view the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article to view more articles that describe error messages:

315854 Windows 98 and Windows Me Error Message Resource Center

SYMPTOMS

If you press CTRL+ALT+DELETE twice on a Universal Serial Bus (USB) keyboard in Windows, you may receive the following error message on a blue screen:
 

A fatal exception 06 has occurred at xxxx:xxxxxxxx. The current application will be terminated.

CAUSE

Restarting Windows by pressing CTRL+ALT+DELETE twice is not recommended. This method causes Windows to suspend most processes and should be used only when the normal shutdown process is not possible.

RESOLUTION

Use the Shut Down command on the Start menu to restart your computer.

WORKAROUND

If you cannot use the Start menu to perform a shutdown, press CTRL+ALT+DELETE, and then click Shut Down in the Close Program dialog box.

MORE INFORMATION

If this article does not describe your shutdown-related issue, please see the following Microsoft Web site to view more articles about shutting down Windows 98:

Click here to view a list of shutdown articles

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Windows 98

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Q - Problems Shutting Down Windows 98 Second Edition

A - IMPORTANT: This article contains information about modifying the registry. Before you modify the registry, make sure to back it up and make sure that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For information about how to back up, restore, and edit the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

256986 Description of the Microsoft Windows Registry

SUMMARY

This article describes how to troubleshoot shutdown and restart problems in Windows 98 Second Edition specifically, not Microsoft Windows 98. For additional information about troubleshooting Windows 98 shutdown problems, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

202633 How to Troubleshoot Windows 98 Shutdown Problems

The following topics are discussed in this article:

MORE INFORMATION

When Windows 98 Second Edition does not shut down properly, it may appear to stop responding (hang) for several minutes while the following message is displayed on the screen:

Please wait while your computer shuts down

Or, you may see only a blank screen and a blinking cursor, or your computer may restart instead of shutting down.

Windows 98 Second Edition Shutdown Supplement

Microsoft has released the Windows 98 Second Edition Shutdown Supplement that addresses shutdown issues on computers with specific hardware and software configurations running Windows 98 Second Edition. These issues include computers restarting when shutting down and computers hanging on shutdown.

Microsoft recommends following the troubleshooting steps that are outlined in this article. If, after following the steps that are outlined in this article, the computer continues to exhibit shutdown problems, Microsoft suggests applying this update. For additional information about how to obtain the Windows 98 Second Edition Shutdown Supplement, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

239887 Availability of Windows 98 Second Edition Shutdown Supplement

NOTE: After you apply the Windows 98 Second Edition Shutdown Supplement, the Disable Fast Shutdown option is no longer listed on the Advanced tab in Msconfig.exe.
 

Troubleshooting

For information about troubleshooting Windows 98 Second Edition shutdown problems, see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

202633 How to Troubleshoot Windows 98 Shutdown Problems  

Common Causes of Shutdown Problems

Shutdown problems in Windows 98 Second Edition can be caused by any of the following issues:

  • The Fast Shutdown registry key is enabled.
  • There is a damaged Exit Windows sound file.
  • A program or terminate-and-stay-resident (TSR) program may not close correctly.
  • An incompatible, damaged, or conflicting device driver is loaded.
  • There is an incompatible Advanced Power Management (APM) or Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) setting.
  • There is an incompatible Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) configuration setting.
  • The computer contains incorrectly configured or damaged hardware.
  • There is a video adapter that is not assigned an IRQ in real mode.

NOTE: Windows 98 Second Edition includes the latest updates for ACPI, OnNow, and APM. In addition, the Fast Shutdown code that was implemented with the initial release of Windows 98 has been removed to support these new features.

Although Windows 98 Second Edition includes many new drivers, not all third-party manufacturers have had a chance to update their hardware drivers. Some existing computers or devices may require an updated BIOS or device driver to fully support Windows 98 Second Edition.

 

Known Issues

IRQ Steering

This option allows several PCI devices to share the same interrupt request line (IRQ). If the BIOS is not fully compliant, this option may cause your computer not to shut down properly, even if two or more devices are not sharing an IRQ. To disable PCI bus IRQ Steering, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click System.
  2. On the Device Manager tab, click System Devices.
  3. Double-click PCI Bus, and then click to clear the Use IRQ Steering check box on the IRQ Steering tab.
  4. Click OK, click OK, and then restart your computer.
  5. After you restart the computer, attempt to shut down your computer again.

If your computer shuts down successfully, you may need to change the BIOS configuration or you may need a BIOS update. For information about how to do so, contact your BIOS manufacturer.

Resume on Ring and LAN

Disabling the “Resume on Ring and LAN” feature in the computer’s BIOS may solve some shutdown-related issues. For information about how to do so, contact your computer or BIOS manufacturer.

Plug and Play BIOS

In some cases, the BIOS and Windows may not be communicating properly with the computer hardware during the shutdown process. You can configure Windows 98 Second Edition to ignore the presence of a Plug and Play BIOS and communicate directly with the hardware.

NOTE: Use this method for testing purposes only. Leaving the Plug and Play BIOS disabled may cause some hardware to stop working.

To configure Windows not to use the Plug and Play BIOS:

  1. Restart your computer, and press and hold CTRL until you see the Windows 98 Startup menu.
  2. Choose Command Prompt Only.
  3. Type the following line at the command prompt:

    cd \windows\system

  4. Rename the Bios.vxd file to Bios.old.
  5. Restart your computer.
  6. After the computer restarts, attempt to shut down Windows.

If the computer shuts down correctly, the system BIOS is likely to be contributing to the shutdown problems. Contact the motherboard or BIOS manufacturer for a possible update.

For additional information about your computer's BIOS, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

299697 General Computer Basic Input/Output System Overview

NVRAM/ESCD

There are specific settings for how the BIOS and Windows interact during the startup and shutdown processes. To check this, disable the NVRAM/ESCD updates feature to determine if doing so resolves the shutdown problem. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click System.
  2. On the Device Manager tab, double-click System Devices.
  3. Click Plug and Play BIOS, and then click to select the Disable NVRAM / ESCD updates check box on the Settings tab.
  4. Click OK, click OK, and then restart your computer.
  5. After you restart the computer, attempt to shut down your computer again.

Fast Shutdown Registry Key Is Enabled

WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

The Microsoft System Configuration utility includes an option to disable Fast Shutdown. If this option is not set in Windows 98 Second Edition, your computer may reboot instead of shutting down. To resolve this issue, change the FastReboot data value from 1 to 0 in the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Shutdown

NOTE: After you apply the Windows 98 Second Edition Shutdown Supplement, the Disable Fast Shutdown option is no longer listed on the Advanced tab in Msconfig.exe.

Antivirus Program

If you have an antivirus program that is configured to scan your floppy disk drive when you shut down your computer, your computer may stop responding. For additional information, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

231666 Antivirus Program Causes Computer to Stop Responding When You Shut Down

Replacing the Configmg.vxd File

Microsoft has become aware that some customers have replaced the Windows 98 Second Edition version of the Configmg.vxd file with the Windows 98 version to address shutdown issues. Microsoft strongly recommends that you not do this. This is an untested scenario that could result in fatal error messages, CPI errors, and hardware failures. The Windows 98 Second Edition Shutdown Supplement detects whether the appropriate version of the Configmg.vxd file is installed, and replaces any earlier version with the Windows 98 Second Edition version.

Functions Performed During the Shutdown Process

Windows 98 Second Edition tries to perform many functions during the shutdown process, including:

  • Completion of all disk write functions.
     
  • Flushing the disk cache.
     
  • Running the Close Window code to close all currently running programs.
     
  • Transitioning all Protected-mode drivers to Real mode.


If this article does not describe your shutdown-related issue, please see the following Microsoft Web site to view more articles about shutting down Windows 98:

Click here to view a list of shutdown articles

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Q - Computer May Reboot Continuously with More Than 1.5 GB of RAM

A - Read the summary below and follow any links for more help on resolving this issue.

SYMPTOMS

If your computer has more than 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of memory (RAM), the computer may reboot continuously when you try to start Windows Millennium Edition (Me) or Windows 98.

Or, when you try to install Windows Me or Windows 98 with more than 1.5 GB of RAM installed, Setup may stop responding (hang) or reboot continuously.

CAUSE

Windows Me and Windows 98 are not designed to handle more than 1 GB of RAM. More than 1 GB can lead to potential system instability.

WORKAROUND

To work around this issue, add the following line to the [386enh] section of the System.ini file:

MaxPhysPage=40000

This limits the amount of physical RAM that Windows can access to 1 GB. To add this line, use the following steps:

  1. Use any text editor (such as Notepad) to open the System.ini file in the Windows folder.
  2. Add the following line in the [386Enh] section of the file:

    MaxPhysPage=40000

  3. Save the file, and then restart your computer.

For additional information about the MaxPhysPage entry, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

181862 Specifying Amount of RAM Available to Windows Using MaxPhysPage

STATUS

This behavior is by design.

MORE INFORMATION

For additional information about memory limitations in Windows Me and Windows 98, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

253912 "Out of Memory" Error Messages with Large Amounts of RAM Installed

184447 Error Message: Insufficient Memory to Initialize Windows

Note that decreasing the size of VCache as mentioned in Q253912 does not resolve this particular issue.

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition
     
  • Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition
     
  • Microsoft Windows 98

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Q - Upgrading a Dual-Boot System

A - Using VMware 2.0 to run Windows 98 from within Windows 2000 Professional is more effective than using a dual-boot arrangement to run two OS's. (For information about VMware, see "Better than a Dual-Boot," January 2001.) However, VMware doesn't work with Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), so to run Windows Me and Win2K Pro on the same machine, you need to set up a traditional dual-boot. I set up such a system and discovered that Windows Me works well in a dual-boot.

Windows Me, Microsoft's replacement for Win98, offers one genuinely new and valuable feature, System Restore. This feature lets you roll back changes to the system files and return the OS to the last known good state. The OS also has a simplified network setup scheme that makes home networking easy, and the product bundles new multimedia and video-editing tools (although you can download these tools separately from Microsoft's download center—http://www.microsoft.com/downloads—for use with Win2K Pro or Win98).

You can consider Windows Me an upgraded version of Win98; therefore, the procedure for creating a dual-boot with Windows Me and Win2K Pro is the same as the procedure for dual-booting Win2K Pro and Win98. For information about the setup procedure, see "Dual-Boot Blues," April 2000.

Upgrading from Win98

If you already have a dual-boot that runs Win2K Pro and Win98, you can easily upgrade to a Win2K Pro and Windows Me dual-boot. To upgrade, just insert the Windows Me distribution CD-ROM into your computer's CD-ROM drive and let the Setup utility run automatically (if your system doesn't support AutoRun, you can run setup.exe from the Windows Me distribution CD-ROM's root directory). When you run the Setup utility, the first screen that appears asks whether you want to upgrade your existing Win9x setup to Windows Me. Accept that option.

Windows Me Setup then checks all your system's disk partitions, which can be a lengthy process if your disk has several partitions. After Setup determines that your partition arrangement is OK, the program asks for the Microsoft product code, which you need to type in. Setup then determines whether your system has sufficient disk space for upgrading to Windows Me. A typical upgrade requires about 300MB, but the disk space that you need varies according to your system configuration. If your system doesn't have enough space, Setup prompts you to exit Setup, delete (or move) files to create space, then start Setup again.

When your system has sufficient space for Windows Me, Setup offers you a chance to save files that the system uses to uninstall Windows Me. These files require 125MB to 175MB of disk space, depending on your system configuration. Saving the system files lets you uninstall the Windows Me upgrade and revert to Win98 should you encounter a program that isn't compatible with Windows Me. If you decide to save the system files, Setup lets you choose the disk partition on which the files will reside.

Next, Windows Me Setup asks you for an empty 3.5" disk so that the program can create a startup disk; Setup erases the 3.5" disk if the disk isn't empty. Although you can opt not to create the startup disk, I recommend that you let Setup create the disk because you might need it to boot your system and restart Setup if something goes wrong.

In the next step, Setup copies files from the CD-ROM to the hard disk. Copying files can take as long as an hour, and when the process finishes, Setup restarts the computer. At this point, Windows Me has replaced Win98 in your dual-boot

Minor Problems

When I upgraded my machine from Win98 to Windows Me, I encountered a problem with insufficient disk space, which I solved by deleting several files related to a previous problem with Microsoft Outlook. (For more information about the Outlook problem, see the sidebar "Fixing My Outlook Problem," page 122.) The existence of more than one hardware profile also caused a problem during the upgrade. I had two hardware profiles on my machine because of an earlier test in which I used VMware to run two OS's. I had created a second hardware profile to use with VMware. When I subsequently set up my Win2K Pro and Windows Me dual-boot, Windows Me noticed the two profiles, asked me to choose one, then locked up. I solved this problem by rebooting the computer and starting Windows Me in Safe Mode (i.e., by holding down the F5 key during the restart), then deleting the VMware virtual profile. Then, I shut down the system and restarted it, and Windows Me started properly.

After Windows Me started, I experienced some minor annoyances with the OS. On the first boot-up after Setup completes, Windows Me uses Windows Media Player to show an advertisement for the OS's features. I didn't find an obvious way to interrupt the clip, but it lasts only a few minutes. I also found that Windows Me had replaced my Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) home page with a link to the Windows Me page on Microsoft's Web site. Additionally, I discovered that in a dual-boot, Windows Me sets itself as the default OS. However, you can easily change the default OS by shutting down Windows Me and manually selecting Win2K Pro from the boot-up menu. After Win2K Pro starts, go to the Control Panel System applet, click the Advanced tab, and open the Startup and Recovery dialog box. Change the default OS back to Win2K Pro.

Windows Me's UI is slightly different from Win98's UI. For example, in Windows Me, you access Dial-Up Networking from the Settings menu, which is easier than following Win98's Start, Programs, Accessories path. Windows Me also contains a Home Networking Wizard. The Home Networking Wizard—which you can find under Programs, Accessories, Communications—is similar to Win2K's Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) feature and lets other computers on a home network share your computer's Internet connection.

Comparable Performance

Windows Me's performance differs only slightly from that of Win98. Windows Me's System Monitor, which you access from Programs, Accessories, System Tools, reports that Windows Me uses only 12MB to 16MB more RAM than Win98 does. Application performance on Windows Me doesn't appear to be much different than on Win98.

For Win2K Pro and Win98 dual-boot users, is Windows Me worth upgrading to? In my opinion, no, unless you have a special need for the OS. Except for System Restore, Windows Me's features are available in Win98 with the appropriate downloads. Unless you're a software reviewer who constantly tries different programs and needs to return your system to a known state, I don't think System Restore alone is worth the effort of loading a new OS on your machine. However, dual-boots with Windows Me will soon be commonplace because Windows Me is the standard OS on many new PCs. If you buy a new system and want to set up a Win2K Pro dual-boot, chances are that you'll dual-boot with Windows Me. Windows Me works as well in a dual-boot as Win98. Minor annoyances that I cited earlier don't appear to create any long-term problems when you upgrade to a Win2K Pro and Windows Me dual-boot

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 Q - Password Caching in Windows Me

 A - I recently rolled out 10 new laptops with Windows Me preinstalled. I was surprised to discover that the OS caches passwords by default. To prevent this security risk, you can clear the check box on the logon screen. However, you must remember to clear the check box each time you log on, or Windows Me automatically logs you on with your credentials.

To disable password caching in Windows Me and Windows 9x, start a registry editor, go to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\ Network registry subkey, and set the DisablePwdCaching DWORD value entry to 1. You can then export the entry to a registry file to obtain the script.

REGEDIT4
  [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft
  \Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Network]
  |"DisablePwdCaching"=dword:00000001
 

Save this script as a text file (e.g., disable_ cache.reg), and double-click the file to run it. You'll receive a message that says the registry entry updated successfully.

To re-enable password caching, change the DisablePwdCaching DWORD value entry to 0. Alternatively, you can delete the entry.

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Miscellaneous

 Q - What You Need to Know About Windows Update Services

 A - Windows Update Services (WUS) is the successor to Microsoft Software Update Services (SUS) and the application Microsoft previously referred to as SUS 2.0. Essentially a free Windows Server add-on that lets small and midsized businesses easily handle patch management for servers and clients, WUS is one of the most exciting out-of-band (OOB) Windows Server upgrades Microsoft has shipped since Windows Server 2003 debuted in April 2003. The product's functionality sits between that of Windows Update and Microsoft Update (a new service that the company will soon introduce), which are designed for individual users, and Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, which is aimed at high-end enterprises. The company also offers a fourth patch-management product, Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA), which can help individuals but is designed to let third-party developers create their own patch-management systems. Here's what you need to know about WUS.

A New Back End

Microsoft's patch-management strategy has been evolving steadily since early last year, when the company finally acknowledged that it was doing a poor job of helping customers keep their products up-to-date easily and seamlessly. However, before Microsoft could ship any new patch-management products, the company had to fix the infrastructure. Its existing products—Windows Update, SMS, MBSA, and SUS 1.x—all use different database back ends. As a result, these products often deliver varying results, even when run on the same systems. Microsoft says that work on a common patch-management back end started in 2003 and will continue through summer 2004, culminating in the releases of MBSA 2.0 and WUS in third quarter 2004. By that time, all Microsoft's patch-management tools will point to the same back end and provide consistent results.

Also helping WUS is the move from several patch-installer routines to just two, both of which will be based on the new Windows Installer (MSI) 3.0 technology, which provides for patches with far fewer reboots, new un-installation capabilities, and massive patch-size reductions. And a new delta compression scheme will eventually make MSI 3.0—based patches as much as 90 percent smaller than equivalent patches released today, according to Microsoft.

New Features

In addition to a new name, WUS sports a wide range of desirable new features. Like earlier SUS versions, WUS provides businesses with a centralized patch-management infrastructure, which lets administrators approve then roll out patches to desktops and servers. WUS adds new content download types—including patches for Microsoft Office, SQL Server, and Exchange Server—to the previously supported Windows updates and service packs. WUS includes improved targeting capabilities that let administrators take advantage of organizational units (OUs) in Active Directory (AD) environments or manually created groups in workgroups to roll out patches to the most crucial systems first. The new service also includes bandwidth-management capabilities that let you control patch delivery during peak business hours so that you can ensure your networks won't be overloaded during crucial periods.

Thanks to a new topology scheme that supports parent and child WUS servers, WUS scales out more effectively than SUS, opening up this patching solution to distributed environments for the first time. If you're wondering how well WUS scales out, consider this: WUS is based on the same technology that Microsoft uses to run Windows Update, so it's proven to be both scalable and reliable. And now WUS can generate simple reports detailing key patch-management tasks (e.g., notifying you whether all your target groups received and installed the updates) and status reports. Unlike the more powerful SMS, however, WUS doesn't support ad hoc queries, which Microsoft describes as a more complex feature.

One feature that won't be changing is the price—none. Contrary to rumors, and despite all the powerful new features, WUS continues to be a free component of Windows Server.

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