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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Dec 15, 2003 (Vol. 8, #50 - Issue #456)
Brand New Security Scanner: SNSI
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Last Issue of 2003!
    • How Much Are You Paying Redmond?
    • Security Lockdown Wizard Coming to Windows 2003 in SP1
    • MS's Top 10 Challenges for 2004
    • Microsoft Licenses Intellectual Property
    • Redmond Withdraws Bunch Of Products
    • Exchange SmartScreen Only Free for 10% Of Market
    • Brand New Security Scanner: SNSI
    • So, How Does iHateSpam Server Do In Real Sites?
    • Double-Take 4.3 Service 2 Pack Available
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • NEW: Sunbelt Network Security Inspector
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Last Issue of 2003!

It's unbelievable but another year has flown by. This is issue number 50 of 2003, and there are now 456 issues since we started. It's still fun! The coming issue will be Monday Jan 5th, and has the usual predictions for 2004. Got any? Send them my way: [email protected]. If I use them, you'll get credit.

You can see W2Knews back-issues from Sept 1997 till now in the link below and they are searchable.

Another piece of BIG news is a new product that we're launching: The Sunbelt Network Security Inspector (SNSI, pronounced "snizzy") After extensive surveys, we came to the conclusion a LOT of you needed a low-cost security scanner for your Windows networks, licensed by admin, with a killer database of vulnerabilities. Voila, here it is. It is in late beta now, and will be released in a few weeks. Sunbelt is talking orders for SNSI since some companies after looking at the Betas insisted on buying before the end of the year. Read more at the Third Party News section, or check it out here:

A lot of you liked the Media Center story in the last issue. Here is how Media Center will be integrated in LongHorn (Windows 2005):

And there is a community for MediaCenter enthusiasts, where you can download cool stuff like software that allows you to schedule recordings remotely using IIS on your MediaCenter PC:

We have RSS ready for WinXPnews now, so you can plug the link below in your favorite RSS reader. Microsoft is expected to RSS-enable Microsoft.com and all their updates this spring 2004. And of course there will be a free MS RSS reader as well. But for the moment, get your own RSS reader. YOU WANT ONE OF THESE, just like you want an Adobe Acrobat Reader! Here is a free one:

And now, here are our RSS Feeds:

And here is the new SunPoll. We now know how you think about MS's .Net framework: Seventy percent of you are OK on using it. Now, how about J2EE?

Question: Over the next two years, do you perceive of your J2EE apps as growing...

  • In numbers
  • In cost
  • In general / management complexity
  • Becoming more mission critical
  • All of the above
Vote here: rightmost column:

Quote of the Week:
"A wise man speaks when he has something to say; A fool speaks when he has to say something."
-- Anonymous

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

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How Much Are You Paying Redmond?

It's that time of year again: renewing support, license and software maintenance contracts. Have you done your homework and take a look at the best way to save valuable budget?

The Updated Sunbelt/ITIC Microsoft Licensing 6.0 Report is available now. It contains eight (8) pages of new material highlighting the changes Microsoft made over the past several months to add more business value to it's licensing program. It also incorporates information about upcoming revisions that take effect in January, 2004. As an added bonus, we've included a PowerPoint presentation that highlights the changes in a very succinct format. Sunbelt's survey data indicates that as many as 40% of organizations will be re-negotiating current licensing contracts or signing new deals in/for 2004. This report gives you the information you need to know about the changes and the best strategies for negotiating to win!

Sunbelt is making this Updated Licensing 6.0 Report available for the special price of $149 for the first 100 customers. The regular price is $199. (if you bought it this spring, this is your no-charge update) Don't delay -- this report will help you hold onto to your hard earned IT dollars. Read more about it here:

Security Lockdown Wizard Coming to Windows 2003 in SP1

ENTMag had a good "find" that I originally overlooked. But here it is! The security configuration lockdown wizard for Windows Server 2003 that was supposed to be delivered shortly after the operating system shipped has now apparently been pushed into the first service pack. Bill Gates mentioned such functionality during his Microsoft Professional Developers Conference keynote in Los Angeles. While discussing security enhancements coming in future service packs, Gates said Windows 2003 SP1 could contain a "simple configuration where you can say what the type of the server is, and have all things locked down according to exactly that use."

The decision to put the security feature in SP1 means the feature has been delayed by at least a year. Windows Server 2003 SP1 is expected to go into beta in the first half of next year and be finished in the second half. More info at:


MS's Top 10 Challenges for 2004

One of the industry's top Microsoft watchers, Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft, has released its annual list of Redmond's top 10 challenges for the new year. I'll give you the first 5 here, for the others you need to go to the SearchWin2000 site [grin]

  1. Serve existing customers: Analysts said that the most important challenge for Microsoft in 2004 is what amounts to learning how to age gracefully. Product cycles are longer, and customers are not so fast to upgrade. Analysts said that, since Microsoft can no longer move as fast as it once did, it must pay attention to its existing customers and less to the pursuit of "software grand slams."

  2. Security: No surprise here. The vulnerabilities have overwhelmed any discussion of innovation. "MS's patch management technologies are themselves a patchwork," analysts at the firm wrote. Microsoft says these technologies will improve. The company must deliver on its promises.

  3. Produce clear, reliable road maps: Customers need to know what's coming out and when. The idea of asking customers to put up cash and then giving them vague product sets and delivery dates is unrealistic, analysts said. Independent software vendors also need to know what's coming down the road. Knowing when service packs are coming and what they contain will help customers plan.

  4. Rebuild the partner network. Except for the largest enterprises, most companies purchase Microsoft software or integration services through a partner. Directions on Microsoft analysts said that the nature of the partnerships has changed over the years, with much action moving to the Internet and more functionality going into Windows. The company must use the partners effectively to stave off defections to Java.

  5. Counter Linux. The open source OS is starting to find enterprise traction, and Microsoft must figure out how to keep it at bay. Analysts said that Microsoft must stop Linux at the server, before it gets a foothold on the desktop. Microsoft won't have a new desktop OS to answer challenges from Linux for the next few years. Microsoft also has to improve its Unix migration story.
For the rest:

Microsoft Licenses Intellectual Property

Redmond decided to start making money with their IP. There are now two technologies that can license: ClearType and yes, believe it or not: the FAT file system! The latter has caused some noise, as no one ever believed they would ever have to pay for that. Especially makers of digital cameras and removable media. They now have a choice. Either pay a quarter per device, or change their file system which is very unlikely. Redevelopment is way more expensive. It's even more interesting which other things MS might cook up that are now suddenly "for pay", and what others will do to challenge these patents. There are people that claim many examples of prior art to FAT exist. I know from personal experience (yes my age shows here) that it bears close resemblance to the CPM file system. Here is the data on FAT:

Redmond Withdraws Bunch Of Products

Next week, a long list of products are going to be withdrawn. Some of these are Windows 98 and SQL Server 7. According to Redmond, this is to comply with legal requirements following from the Sun lawsuit regarding Java. Some products will be re-appearing in a modified form by the end of December, for example these are Office XP Pro with FrontPage, Publisher 2002, Windows NT 4.0 and Small Business Server 2000. Oh, this notice is about availability, and not support which is something completely different with dates extending years from now. Windows 98 support though will end in a few weeks. Here is the MS notice:

Exchange SmartScreen Only Free for 10% Of Market

You all know that Bill Gates announced that there will be a junk email filter in Exchange 2003. He kind of spent a few seconds at Comdex talking about it. What he did not say was that it is only given for free to companies that are under the fairly expensive Microsoft Software Assurance. Everyone else has to pay, (price has not been set yet) and it will be released somewhere first half of 2004.

I started asking myself, well how many people are under this Software Assurance? Some research showed that at this point roughly 34% of MS customers have migrated to the new Licensing 6.0 Plan and of that figure, approximately 28% have Software Assurance. Do the math. That's less than 10%. Their PressPass site shows that it is limited to "SA-only".

If you want to know what's in Software Assurance, Microsoft has NOT rolled back prices on licensing agreements or SA. And despite the added business value, cash strapped customers simply may not have the budget for SA. But part of what MS added is:

  • Free home usage rights for Office, Visio, FrontPage and Publisher
  • Free TechNet Web-based support - with the Online Concierge Chat. Depending on Terms and conditions of individual contract will give you a specific number of free Web-based tech support incidents
  • Free training vouchers for Microsoft CTEC worth $300 to $400 for desktop ONLY training
  • Ability to pay as you go for hot fixes
  • Step Up program to move easily from Standard to Enterprise Edition SKUs
Want to get the nitty gritty about the very latest changes to MS Licensing 6.0? Here is a brand new $149 report that might save you many thousands of dollars:

Brand New Security Scanner: SNSI

"A World-Class Vulnerability Scanner That Won't Make a Hole in Your Budget." --Laura DiDio, Senior Analyst, Yankee Group

We are thrilled to announce SNSI: Close the door on hackers!

But, you can't close the door if you don't know which one is open. That's why we designed Sunbelt Network Security Inspector (SNSI pronounced "snizzy"): A low-cost, quick-install, fast-result vulnerability scanner that uses a top quality, commercial-grade database of ranked vulnerabilities.

  • Prioritized vulnerability reports provide detailed and easy-to-follow instructions on how to fix holes fast, so you can focus on the most critical security issues.
  • Configurable scans: create your own scans or use predefined scans such as "high risk" or the "SANS top 20".
  • Windows platform support: Find holes in Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000 and Windows Server 2003 machines.
  • The easy, all-new interface has a short learning curve: just point, right-click and QuickScan.
  • SNSI is licensed per Administrator and lets you scan unlimited machines! SNSI won't make a hole in your budget, so you can afford to be proactive without compromises.
  • SPECIAL OFFER: Run the Beta and get your own black "Hack My Network and Die" T-shirt. Specs and beta at the link below.
We are taking orders from companies that want to order before the end of the year.

So, How Does iHateSpam Server Do In Real Sites?

One of our large installations, (University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point) posted a graph of their recent months of spam since August this year. It's been skyrocketing. There is an area chart and also a tab at the bottom of the page with more specifics and percentages per month. The numbers are staggering. The graphs are interesting to check out:

iHateSpam Server is doing great. You are going to love the new V1.5 that is in beta now. It's got practically everything that our well over 1,700 customers have asked for. Want to test a late beta of Version 1.5? Email [email protected] and please specify if you want the server version or gateway and which Exchange Platform you are running. Check out the new 1.5 feature list:

Double-Take 4.3 Service 2 Pack Available

With the availability of Service Pack 2 for Double-Take 4.3 comes a number of fixes and enhancements. Among the changes in this release are numerous fixes as well as performance enhancements. In addition to new fixes, a number of existing hotfixes have been rolled into this release as well. Building existing hotfixes into this release simplifies the installation process as fewer hotfixes need to be applied after the product is installed.

Performance Improvements:
Changes have been incorporated in this release which improve the performance and efficiency at which DT uses available resources. In some instances the throughput has improved greater than 3x over 4.3.0.

Business benefits of these changes include:

  • The ability to run on smaller networks
  • Improved target write speeds for improved data protection
  • Reduced server overhead on source and lower CPU utilization puts less strain on production servers and applications.
It's a download on the Double-Take page:

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  • WorldWide War Drive is an effort by security professionals to generate awareness of the need by both companies and individual users to secure their wireless access points. The stats are ugly:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031215FA-WWWD
  • Sony's new little walking robot called QRIO. Pretty cool. Turn on Flash though, otherwise you will not see it move. Tip: hover your mouse over the empty spaces.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031215FA-QRIO
  • Posters from a variety of xrayed technical items. Interesting.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031215FA-Xray
  • Ever wondered how much power your computers used? find out with a neat little tool called a Kill A Watt.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031215FA-Kill_A_Watt
  • SpamCop advises on their home page that production sites should NOT use the service. And there are good reasons for this!

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031215FA-SpamCop
  • Project a (BIG) message on a building: HelloWorld Project.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031215FA-HelloWorld
  • Breaking the Gigapixel Barrier: one of the highest resolution, most detailed stitched digital images ever created: Bryce Canyon.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031215FA-Gigapixel

    NEW: Sunbelt Network Security Inspector

    Introducing: The Sunbelt Network Security Inspector (SNSI, say "snizzy"). A brand new security scanner for everyone that cannot afford the high-end scanners that force you to license by IP-range. SNSI is a low-cost security scanner for your Windows networks, licensed by admin, with a killer database of vulnerabilities. Sunbelt is talking orders for SNSI since some companies after looking at the Betas insisted on buying before the end of the year. The price is astounding if you look at what you get: $949.00 which is the competitive upgrade price. You can upgrade from any currently available vulnerability scanner. Even freeware. Regular price: $1,495 per admin. Scan unlimited machines per seat, but multiple SNSI copies in the same organization require multiple licenses.