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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:
    • Some Hot News This Time
    • W2K Service Pack 2 Is Here!
    • Microsoft Changes Licensing Terms
    • Windows XP sales will start Oct. 25, 2001
    • Did You Know Sunbelt Has On-Site Services?
    • The #1 Disk Drive Problem
    • Help with Exchange Distribution List
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • The MCSE Consulting Bible
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Some Hot News This Time

Hi NT/W2K-ers,

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 !

Warm regards,

Stu Sjouwerman
(email me with feedback: [email protected])

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:

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!


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 model Microsoft!

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.


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 drive.

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)
2-Pack $99.95
5-Pack $199.95
10-Pack $349.95

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:

  • 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 distribution list.
  • 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.
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.).

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:

    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.