MS Releases Internet Explorer 6.0
Always grabbing the latest & greatest? IE 6.0 has crawled out
in the daylight. I plugged it on the W2K Pro machine in my home
office and in a few minutes it was running. First thing I noticed
though that it changes a few settings to default: the links on the
address bar were suddenly alphabetical, the icons were small
instead of large, and when you hover the mouse over something,
the labels did not appear like they used to. I had to set these
manually back to the way I had them before. So, what's new in 6.0?
Superficially it looks pretty much the same. The new icons are in
color like WXP, but then there is quite extensive new cookie management.
notifier and the some image tools that allow smooth auto-resizing
of larger images. You can also freeze the toolbars like they are.
The one thing that should help solving problems is this option:
"Enable third-party browser extensions." There is a new fault
collection service, and new options for customizing the browser's
style and color.
The biggest change in IE 6 are definitely the security features.
Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge,
Mass. said: "Users can now decide what levels of risk they want
to accept." Many of the features that were ON by default in earlier
versions, have been turned off, so that any malicious code would
not be able to take any advantage. I think this is a good version
to replace all the other older IE flavors with, on a corporate
wide level. You can get it over here:
Running W2K? Block Port 445!
NewsBytes just reported the following:
"Exploiting a hole in Windows 2000, a hacker says he penetrated
Microsoft's corporate network earlier this month and had full
access to hundreds of the company's computers. The security breach,
which took place over a six-day period beginning Aug. 12, involved
a shopping server that was part of the Microsoft Network in Europe,
as well as scores of workstations and servers located overseas, he
"A list of the vulnerable machines was provided to Newsbytes by the
anonymous intruder, a self-proclaimed white-hat hacker who uses the
nickname "Benign." Microsoft officials refused to comment on the
incident, noting that the company does not confirm or deny whether
an unauthorized intrusion into its network has occurred.
"To breach one of the most heavily defended networks on the planet,
the intruder says he did not exploit any known or new software bugs,
nor did he use any special hacking tools. Instead, Benign claims to
have virtually strolled into the systems' back door, using Windows
2000's TCP port 445, which is open by default to allow file sharing
with remote systems." end quote.
The story is much longer, the above is just a quick heads-up. A
link to the newsbytes full story is here:
And the fix in the MS Knowledge Base is here:
Wintel Releases 64-Bit Gear
Fresh from the factory, MS and Intel released the general availability
of Windows Advanced Server, Limited Edition (WASLE) for Intel's new 64-
bit Itanium CPU. Hardware guys like Compaq, Dell, HP and IBM will start
shipping systems running WASLE in the next 30 days.
Here is some of the PR-hype that they had in the press release. Note
especially what they say about "freeing customers from proprietary 64-
bit solutions". What they do not say is S-u-n, but that's right in the
crosshairs of this new combination.
"This is the next logical step in freeing customers from the high cost
and complexity of proprietary 64-bit solutions," said Cliff Reeves,
vice president of the Windows .NET Server Division at Microsoft.
"Windows Advanced Server, Limited Edition, is the result of a massive
effort undertaken by Microsoft and its industry partners to provide
customers with a 64-bit platform that meets their highly demanding
technical and enterprise needs."
OK, so we move from a Sun proprietary solution to a cheaper Intel & MS
proprietary solution. Just more people will sell that, so the
competition will heat up. Waggoner Edstrom, Microsoft's PR people should
give a little more credit to the intelligence of its customers.
And here is a blurb from the Intel Guy, Abhi Talwalkar, vice president
and assistant general manager, Intel Enterprise Platforms Group. "Itanium-
based servers combined with Microsoft's latest server software offer
customers superior performance, greater choice, reliability and investment
protection at significantly lower costs than proprietary solutions."
Note: Positioning against the infamous and dangerous proprietary
solutions again. OK, OK, I may be a bit ironic here, but why don't
they just say it like it is: "We think we have better stuff, and it's
a lot cheaper than Sun".
A lot of software app developers are porting over their stuff to 64-bit
Windows. But for us mere mortals, 64-bit computing is not even on the
horizon yet. These chips are really expensive. Couple years down the
road this stuff becomes affordable. For the moment, the new 2Ghz
Pentium 4 will do just fine, and they are planning to pump these P4's
up to a whopping 10Ghz before they run out of steam. They already
showed lab versions running on 3.5 Ghz this week.
This 64-bit platform is really only useful for high-end stuff like web
farms, data warehousing and datamarts, CAD, scientific research and
of course graphics rendering farms for movies.
Get Ready To Be Bombarded with WXP
It's cool, it's sexy, it's stable and reliable and you need to install
it everywhere. At least, that's what MS wants you to think. And they
will throw a billion bucks at it (together with partners) to make you
believe it. WXP works well enough that there's no reason to think it
won't dominate the world. But a major pain in the neck may be enduring
the onslaught of built-in sales pitches to buy more MS-software.
More over, the new OS will be a little more expensive than earlier
Windows versions. The Home Edition upgrade was tagged at the MAP
(manufacturer's authorized price) of $99, which is about $10 more
than WinMe. The full version is $199, which is roughly $20 more
than WinMe. The Professional Edition is going to be $199 for the
upgrade and $299 for the full version. Both cases 20 bucks more
than W2K. Obviously for consumers this is a good deal. Just $10
more for WXP compared to the clunky WinME code is a nobrainer.
But for a business environment? I have my doubts. And I'm not alone.
MS is playing it like this: they want you to check out a comparison
and then upgrade. I'm quoting some of their promo:
"This overview shows how Windows XP Professional integrates the
strengths of Windows 2000 Professional--standards-based security,
manageability, and reliability--with the best business features
of Windows 98 and Windows Millennium Edition--Plug and Play, a
simplified user interface, and innovative support services--to
create the best desktop operating system for business."
But Dave Kearns, the word wrangler for Network World put it like
this, and I got his permission to quote him:
"Microsoft would really, really like you to move your desktops
to Windows XP as soon as it ships later this year. You'll be
inundated with marketing FUD trying to get you to make that
switch. Resist it, for your own good (see "Windows XP Not for
Businesses," http://nww1.com/go/0820WNT2A.html and "Windows XP
may not be what you thought," http://nww1.com/go/0820WNT2B.html).
"This week, Microsoft was touting a new Web page ("Deploy Windows
2000 Professional Now or Wait?" (currently unavailable)
The page's intent is to sway those of you who are resisting the
move to Windows 2000 on the desktop to get moving and do that
upgrade - if you've already started. Otherwise, they suggest
you start planning to roll out XP Pro just as soon as it's
available. One interesting Q&A on the page is:
Q) Is Windows XP the operating system platform for .NET?
A) Windows XP represents an important step in delivering on the
Microsoft .NET vision. The Windows XP-based personal computer
will be at the center of the .NET experience, empowering people
to move beyond disconnected applications, services, and devices
to complete computing experiences that redefine the
relationship between people, software, and the Internet.
"The short answer would be, of course, "No." There will be at
least two (and maybe more) OS releases before Microsoft is even
close to what's been loosely defined as .NET. But by using
weasel words such as "an important step," Microsoft would like
you to believe that its necessary to go through the progression
of Windows 9x, Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP in order
to fully participate in whatever the .NET initiative becomes.
"Resist. Use Windows 2000 on your desktops (and your servers).
Skip the XP fiasco (see the newsletter and column referenced
above) and wait for the next OS release sometime late next
So, that's Dave Kearns' opinion. Now it's up to you to look
at the data, and decide where you want to go. In Sunbelt, we
now have a wall-to-wall W2K environment. We like it but we
also suffer from a major case of upgrade fatigue. [sigh]
Not Done With Electives, Will I Lose My MCSE?
Question: I have passed all the core NT4 exams and received my
voucher from Microsoft to write the Accelerated exam 70-240.
My company is paying for me to do the upgrade course through
a Microsoft Training Center and I plan to take this exam as
soon as possible. What I want to know is if I pass exam 70-240
before December 2001 , can I do the electives in 2002 and still
receive my MCSE on W2K or do I need to pass the electives
before December 2001 as well?
Answer: If you do not complete the upgrade requirements for the
MCSE by 12/31/2001, you will lose your MCSE for as long as it
takes you to complete any requirements that remain at that time.
OTOH, you must take (and pass) 70-240 by 12/31/2001 (earlier is
better than later, because MS is expected testing centers to be
booked to capacity in November and December because of the
expiration on the 70-240 voucher). If it doesn't matter to you
or your employer that you lose your MCSE temporarily, then you
can wait and finish up next year. Otherwise, if it does matter
--for qualifying for MSDN subscription, for example--you must
upgrade on or before 12/31/2001.
Thanks to Certification Guru Ed Tittel