Sunbelt W2Knews Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, May 14, 2001 (Vol. 6, #34 - Issue #269)
W2K Service Pack 2 Is Here!
This issue of W2Knews contains:
- EDITORS CORNER
- TECH BRIEFING
- W2K Service Pack 2 Is Here!
- NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
- Microsoft Changes Licensing Terms
- Windows XP sales will start Oct. 25, 2001
- NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
- Did You Know Sunbelt Has On-Site Services?
- The #1 Disk Drive Problem
- Help with Exchange Distribution List
- W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
- This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
- PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
- The MCSE Consulting Bible
Join the Transcender Club!
Transcender invites you to join the Transcender Club! Be our guest and
get special money-saving offers for the latest Transcender releases,
live and online customer service, and helpful exam prep information.
Best of all, it's free, so join Transcender Club today! And now, for
a limited time, Club members only can buy a single-user license for
TranscenderFlash for only $49 without having to purchase the corres-
ponding TranscenderCert product. Join at:
Visit TRANSCENDER for more information.
Some Hot News This Time
The last few days have been exciting. Especially last night was busy!
I got the new W2K SP2 and installed it. See the first impression in
the Tech Briefing section.
Next, some cool new products have been announced so I'd like you to
have a look at those too. And then MS is changing its licensing and
promises to start selling WXP October 25-th which is definitely
interesting. So, let's get to work right away [grin].
But first a "Big Thank You" to all you readers in the UK. You made
our book #1 at Amazon.co.uk !
(email me with feedback: [email protected])
SPONSOR: ARE EXCHANGE DISTRIBUTION LISTS KILLING YOU?
Exchange Administrators get sick and tired of constantly having to
update the distribution lists. ActiveDL is a great tool to automate
this. ActiveDL is an incredible time saver as you can use ActiveDL's
rules-based criteria to automate the creation and maintenance of
distribution lists. With ActiveDL you now easily maintain large and
complex distributions lists without having to manually add and remove
members all the time. Download your eval here:
Visit ARE EXCHANGE DISTRIBUTION LISTS KILLING YOU? for more information.
W2K Service Pack 2 Is Here!
And I'm running it on my machine at home without any problems. I saw
last night on the Sunbelt sponsored NTSYSADMIN list that it was
available and immediately downloaded the 104MB file. I got about
120Kb/sec through my cable modem, so it was not that long. Made a
new Emergency Repair Disk, backed up the most crucial files and
took the plunge. I decided that I'd play guinea pig so you could
have some first impressions. Two things that I immediately noticed:
a) If you want to uninstall this SP2, you need a LOT of spare disk
space! b) It will upgrade your encryption to 128-bit automatically.
I took the readme.htm file from the install, and plugged it on our
website as a .TXT so you can quickly read it before you download the
full 104Meg. None of the htm-links in it worked yet, as it is not
officially released as of now. Keep in mind, you have to test it
thoroughly before you plug it in your production environment. Test,
test again, and then double check and test one more time.
Now, keep in mind that this thing was sitting over at the link below
but when you look it may or may not be there. Sometimes this code
gets yanked again, as it might be a very late beta and they found a
bug. Everything is possible.
And it should show up on the MS official webpage, but it is not there
yet either. I would guess this is going to happen very shortly... Here
is the usual page for W2K SP's
I installed it on my Dell Dual-CPU W2K Pro Workstation, and everything
I have running on it seems to work, including BlackICE defender and
ZoneAlarm which I have both running at the same time. BlackICE to make
sure nothing comes in, and ZoneAlarm to make sure nothing 'illegal'
goes out. (like some one having taken over this box via a trojan and
trying to get into our systems in the office).
So, without repeating everything in the readme file, and saving you
guys from downloading a 100+ Meg (and saving an enormous amount of
bandwidth). Here is the link to the W2K SP2 README file. Better read it!
NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
Microsoft Changes Licensing Terms
The Wall Street Journal had a short article about this the other day.
It states that MS has been announcing broad changes of licensing terms
mainly to simplify them and respond to customer needs. The new program
will go into effect Oct. 1, 2001 and prices should remain unchanged or
even drop for 80% of corporate customers. However, for companies that
rarely upgrade Windows or Office (like once every 3 or 4 years) the cost
could rise anywhere from 22 to 70%.
It looks like a lot of us could benefit from this new scheme, but it
requires you to have the latest software revs on your networks, so you
may need to scramble to get the latest of the greatest installed before
October first. The new plan has a sales process that is simpler, has
tools to do online licensing management, and cuts of the number of
licenses needed to qualify for Microsoft's Enterprise Agreement
license terms in half.
MS said the three-year "enterprise agreements" were too restrictive,
so it plans to roll out limited rental programs that are supposed to
cut costs by about 15% per year. It's more like a car lease than
anything else, because you do not own the software after the rental.
If your staff fluctuates a lot, this program might be more attractive,
but you have to do the math to make sure.
Smaller outfits may not benefit from the new scheme though. Enterprise
licenses will get their upgrades for free, but if you opt for buying
upgrades a la carte, you are now going to pay about 72% of the base
price. MS is doing away with discounts on upgrade programs and it
introduces something called "Software Assurance (SA)" which allows
you to pay per year to bulk upgrades.
SA becomes the only way to get your upgrades other than buying a new
software licenses. Looks like SA will cost 29% of the full price per
year for desktop products such as Office and 25% for servers. Funnily
enough, this is exactly the model that Sunbelt has been operating off
for the last 5 years: 25% of List Price maintenance per year and that
includes tech support, updates and upgrades. Thanks for validating our
Time to call your MS reseller and get the specifics on what this means
for your environment!
Windows XP sales will start Oct. 25, 2001
It was all over the news this week. TV, newspapers you name it. Why?
Because MS is going to spend a humongous amount of money promoting
it, that's why. Twice(!) the money of the Windows 95 announcement
an estimated $400 Million.
MS announced on the ninth, that Windows XP will be released October
25-th. Both bundling via OEM's and sales in retail stores. MS did this
mainly to dispel rumors it would not make the 2001 holiday season.
Most consumers will have to buy a new computer if they want to use
the new OS which is based on NT/W2K. Microsoft has been hoping to
kill off the 9x kernel and replace it with the NT kernel since 1998.
The easy way to judge if a PC will run it, it check when it was bought.
If it's later than Q4, 1999 you have a good chance WXP will run fine.
MS states you need at least 128 RAM. Well, better plug 256 in if you
buy that new box.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed: "Windows XP will be the highest-
quality OS ever, and Microsoft and our associates are committed to
delivering a set of amazing new computing experiences that will set
a new paradigm for PC users around the world."
There will be a very large Release Candidate 1 (RC1), which they say
will be shipped to hundreds of thousands of customers. Usually these
big ones are feature complete. After that there will be a much smaller
RC2 just to make sure all the bugs were caught.
Looking at how things went with W2K, there will likely be a whole
bunch of updates which will add backward compatibility for an expected
few hundred apps the initial release will not support. The old DOS
apps that use VxD's you can trash. They will never run.
Keep in mind that this version has a feature called "dynamic setup".
It lets an XP box that is connected to the Internet continuously and
automatically update itself. Yikes! Nice for consumers, but in a
business environment I would thing twice before I'd let that run all
by itself. It means of course no traditional service packs, and bug
fixes could be distributed transparently to users. But still.
And as we all know, WXP will come in two flavors: Home and Professional.
The moment Intel will finally ship their 64-bit Itanium chips, MS
will have compiled WXP for 64-bit too, and will be ready when the
hardware ships. That was supposed to be this fall, but hey, we'll
believe it when we see it.
THIRD PARTY NEWS
Did You Know Sunbelt Has On-Site Services?
Just as a reminder, we have System Engineers that can come over to
your site, and install products for you. But that's not all, we also
can perform Data Migration Services on-site. Meaning, you have 25
NT servers and you are consolidating to 10 larger ones (NT or W2K)
and need all the data moved over to the 10 big ones, intact, and
with the right permissions. We can do that for you. Check this page
and give us a call!
The #1 Disk Drive Problem
Software Shelf and Executive Software announced yesterday a very
interesting new tool that I thought you'd like. A lot. They did
research about what the biggest problem was with hard drives. And
not so surprisingly the answer was: drives crashing. So, in violation
of the Sunbelt tradition to only talk about products that are
available via Sunbelt NOW, I'm making a pre-announcement and I'll
give you a 'sneak-peak' at our beta-page. Sunbelt will have the
product available shortly.
The problem is of course that it is practically impossible to know
beforehand which drives are going bad. Well, ExecSoft has created a
new product that will warn you up front. It's called DiskAlert. This
puppy monitors all your disks and looks at bad spots that are developing.
It can tell you (or others you specify) if things go haywire.
Selectable thresholds allow you to fine tune alerting of disk
drives in trouble. DiskAlert automatically detects all the individual
physical disks on your system. You then have a choice as to which
disk drives you would like to monitor.
You can alert as many people as you like. You can also have different
people alerted for different disk drives. For example, you can have
person "x" paged and called immediately when there's any trouble
with the web server disk drives, while having person "y" e-mailed
whenever there's a disk problem with a non-vital workstation disk
The health of a disk drive is categorized as healthy, warning,
critical or failed. Depending on how you've configured the
notification alerts, you are informed when a particular disk has
entered a state that is less than healthy. The alert gives you the
status, and the identification of the disk. Additionally you can
be alerted if disk drives are running out of free space. The free
space alerting levels are user-selectable.
DiskAlert uses SMART (Self Monitoring And Reporting Analysis Tool).
It was developed by disk manufacturers to help monitor disk health.
However, each disk manufacture implements SMART to their own specs.
Since these implementations vary from manufacturer to manufacturer,
it is difficult to monitor them consistently through one GUI.
DiskAlert does utilize SMART data being sent from SMART enabled
disk drives. However DiskAlert goes far beyond SMART by collecting
key data from disk drives and using our special algorithms to
determine the health of a disk drive. DiskAlert is the most reliable
indicator of potential disk failure.
DiskAlert also works on older hard drives. Using a new proprietary
algorithm, DiskAlert can monitor drives of any size, speed or age
running on a Windows 2000/NT/XP workstation or server, even those
where SMART (Self Monitoring And Reporting Analysis Tool) is not
enabled. This is especially important because older drives have
a greater risk of failure. Exec Software announced their Suggested
Retail Pricing as follows:
Quantity or pack:
1-Pack ESD* $49.95 (Electronic Delivery)
Volume License quantity, price per license:
20 to 49 $25.00
50 to 99 $23.00
100 to 499 $20.00
500 to 999 $18.00
1000 to 3000 $15.00
So, there you have it. The Sunbelt BETA PAGE is here, no eval is
available yet, but this is a promising useful little tool. Make some
room in your budget for the coming months! And read this page:
Help with Exchange Distribution List
ActiveDL saves time and money by allowing you to easily automate the
creation and maintenance of Exchange distribution lists.
ActiveDL really comes down to automated Distribution List Management.
It is an incredible time saver as you can use ActiveDL's rules based
criteria to automate the creation and maintenance of distribution
lists. With ActiveDL you now easily maintain large and complex
distributions lists without having to manually add and remove members
all the time.
Main Product Features:
With ActiveDL query builder you can define queries, automate your
exception management, restrict deliveries, and create distribution
list families. A family allows you to automatically create, in one
action, multiple distribution lists based on all the values contained
in any Exchange attribute. For example, creating a distribution list
family for the "department" attribute will generate distribution
lists for all the values of the department attribute (i.e., Sales,
Marketing, Accounting, Finance, etc.).
- Enhanced features for distribution list families
- Enhanced user interface
- Enhanced scheduling capabilities
- Enhanced reporting capabilities
- Powerful Query Builder
- ActiveDL provides a rule-based mechanism to create and populate
- ActiveDL's proprietary query builder allows you to construct
complex queries - which will ensure you can build a distribution
list to meet every need.
- The query builder enables you to safely view the test results,
before updating the distribution list.
ActiveDL contains a robust scheduler, which enables you to configure
it to run automatically at scheduled intervals. No more guessing if
a distribution list is current! You can know with confidence that
the specified distribution list is always up-to-date, and that mail
is sent to the intended recipients. Additionally, you can now monitor
scheduling status, reschedule distribution lists simultaneously and
suspend distribution lists from being automatically updated.
ActiveDL includes many pre-packaged reports that allow administrators
to monitor distribution list usage. Reports can be generated in HTML
or CSV format. Want to take it for a test-drive? Here you go:
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
Worm crawls through thousands of systems. Interesting story
Little battle airplane running on an Intel Chip. Nice for upgrade wars
Need a legal reference for electronic monitoring of email? Check this:
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
The MCSE Consulting Bible
According to the 1999 Salary Survey conducted by MCP Magazine, the
average MCSE has 6.8 years of experience. The average self-employed
MCSE consultant with 6 - 9 years of experience earns $85,000 - that's
over $8,000 more than the average salary +bonus and benefits package
of other MCSEs. There is a demand for MCSEs who can offer a variety
of technical expertise and services, and this book will show readers
how to create a successful consulting business. MCSE Consulting Bible
walks readers through the issues to consider when making the decision
to start their own consulting business and then offers key advice on
each aspect of the business from deciding what services to offer, to
marketing, to maintaining customer relationships.