Getting the Most from Windows Update

March 8, 2008 – 2:04 PM

Imagine having an assistant that helps you by keeping track of what software you have installed on your computer, letting you know when new versions are available, and alerting you to potential security problems. Sure, in a big company, people like this exist: they’re called network administrators. Unless you’re married to a network administrator, you might think that you don’t have access to the same capability when your using your home computer–but as long as you’re running Windows 98 or later, you do!

Windows Update is a built-in feature of Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. At your command, it can check the software you have installed on your machine against the list of current versions from Microsoft, letting you know whether newer versions are available. The update service works for Windows system components, Microsoft applications like the Windows Media player and Windows movie maker, and many Windows device drivers. As a bonus, Windows update also includes early access to beta versions of selected applications and components.

Action go to the Start menu and find the Windows Update item. Select it, and wait for the Windows Update page to load in Internet Explorer’s window. If you’re using Windows XP, find the “Scan for updates” link; for other versions of Windows, look for the “Product Updates” link is. These links are what you’ll use to see what new components are available.

How It Works

It’s important to understand that Windows Update doesn’t send any information about your computer’s configuration to Microsoft. The first time you run Windows Update on a computer, you’ll see a prompt asking you if it’s OK to install the Windows update ActiveX control. When loaded by a Web page, this ActiveX control gathers information about the versions of software installed on your machine, then downloads a list of available components from Microsoft. By comparing the two lists, the control can figure out which versions of components you don’t already have. You simply have to scroll through the list of available updates and decide which ones you want. Be default, all critical updates are selected automatically for download. To read detailed instructions about how to use Windows Update on a computer that is not running Windows XP, see the Knowledge Base article Q198344.

Of course, if you’re using Windows 2000 or Windows XP (Home or Professional), Windows Update will only work if you’re logged in as a user that has administrative privileges.

What You’ll Find on Windows Update

When Windows Update shows you the list of available updates for your machine, you’ll see that the updates are grouped into several different categories. Of course, the exact contents of each of these categories can be different on two seemingly identical machines, since they might actually have very different Windows component configurations. Here are the categories you’ll see:

  • Critical updates and service packs: 8200549You should always install pertinent items in this category whenever they’re offered?this is where Microsoft puts important security fixes so that they’ll be immediately visible. 8200549If you install it, the critical update notification tool will alert you when new critical updates are released. (Note that TechNet also has a spiffy service pack finder that you can use to find service packs for applications that run on Windows). It’s not necessary to install updates for programs that you aren’t using; for example, if you’ve disabled Windows Media Player, you don’t need to install updates to it.
  • Picks of the month: Items here are featured programs or components that Microsoft thinks you’ll like. For example, as I write this the pick of the month is the latest version of Windows Media Player; the contents of this section will change as Microsoft releases new programs (and new versions of existing ones).
  • Advanced security updates: When a new security problem is found in Windows, Microsoft responds as quickly as possible with a security patch to fix the problem. Although Microsoft diligently tests these patches, due to the need for a rapid response, they are not as tested as service packs or product releases. Because of this, it is recommended that you only install the patches when they solve problems with programs or features that you are using or have enabled. If you are not using the feature that the patch fixes, it is recommended that you wait for the fix to come in the next service pack release.
  • Recommended updates: Updates that fall into this category update existing functionality in Microsoft Windows. These updates are not necessary, but as they are improved versions of software already on your system, it is recommended that you download them.
  • Additional Windows features: These are new features that you don’t have installed. They are not necessary in order for Windows to run, but provide additional functionality that you may be interested in taking advantage of.
  • Device drivers: A device driver is a program that allows the Windows software to talk to your computer’s hardware such as a sound or video card. Often new versions of these drivers will be released to take better advantage of the hardware in your computer. If Windows Update finds a new version of a device driver for a piece of hardware that is installed in your computer, it will display it here.

Checking For and Downloading Updates


If you are running Windows 2000 or Windows XP you can launch Windows Update from the Start Menu. However, for any compatible OS, you can launch Windows Update by loading Internet Explorer and navigating to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com. There are several applications that may interfere with the Windows Update service. These are listed in the Microsoft Knowledge Base in article Q241234.

To Launch Windows Update on a computer running Windows XP

Point to Start All Programs and select Windows Update.

If this is your first time running Windows Update, you will be prompted to download an ActiveX component. This component is necessary in order for Windows Update to run. Once the component is downloaded, it starts to scan your computer. If you have already downloaded the component, then you are given the choice to “Scan for updates”.

When the scan is completed, you can chose which updates you want to install. By default, all of the critical updates have already been selected to install. Unless you have a reason not to install critical updates, you should always install them. However, none of the other updates are installed by default, so take some time to read through their descriptions and decide what you want. Most updates have a “read more” link that gives you a little more detail about what the update is for and what benefits it will give you.

Once you have decided what you want to install, click “Review and install updates” from any of the update pages. This will take you to a summary page showing you all of the updates you have chosen to install. If you are happy with your choices, click “Install Now”.

Using the Critical Update Notification Feature


Windows Update is a handy tool, but getting the most from it requires you to do? nothing special! Actually, there is one small thing you have to do: turn on the Critical Update Notification tool. The notification tool periodically checks for critical security updates on the Windows Update site, then notifies you by flashing a small icon in the system tray. If you click on the icon, you’ll be taken to the relevant Windows Update page; this cuts the time it takes for you to learn of, and install, new security patches with zero additional effort on your part.

How do you get this wonderful tool? From Windows Update, of course! Look in the “Recommended Updates” section for a tool named “Windows Critical Update Notification 3.0”, then check the box next to it. When you click on the Download button on the Windows Update page, the notification tool will automatically install.

Security How-Tos

March 8, 2008 – 2:02 PM

Topics on this Page

Windows 2000 Professional
Windows 2000 Server
Windows XP
Internet Security and Acceleration Server

Windows 2000 Professional

Analyze System Security in Windows 2000
Apply Predefined Security Templates in Windows 2000
Change the Policy Settings for a Certification Authority (CA) in Windows 2000
Configure a Certificate Authority to Issue Smart Card Certificates in Windows 2000
Configure a Domain EFS Recovery Policy in Windows 2000
Configure Certificate Trust Lists in Internet Information Services 5.0
Configure Security for a Simple Network Management Protocol Service in Windows 2000
Control Access to a Database on a Web Server in Windows 2000
Create Automatic Certificate Requests with Group Policy in Windows
Define Security Templates in the Security Templates Snap-in in Windows 2000
Disable the Automatic L2TP/IPSec Policy
Enforce a Remote Access Security Policy in Windows 2000
Export Certificates in Windows 2000
Find and Clean Up Duplicate Security Identifiers with Ntdsutil in Windows 2000
Get a Certificate Signed by an Off-Network Root Authority in Windows 2000
Harden the TCP/IP Stack Against Denial of Service Attacks in Windows 2000
Install a Smart Card Reader in Windows 2000
Keep Domain Group Policies from Applying to Administrator Accounts and Selected Users in Windows 2000
Prevent the Last Logged-On User Name from Being Displayed in Windows 2000
Publish a Certificate Revocation List in Windows 2000
Use IPSec Policy to Secure Terminal Services Communications in Windows 2000
Use the Directory Services Store Tool to Add a Non-Windows 2000 Certification Authority (CA) to the PKI in Windows 2000
Back Up Your Encrypting File System Private Key in Windows 2000

Windows 2000 Server

Network security

Configure a Primary Internet Authentication Service Server on a Domain Controller
Configure Remote Access Client Account Lockout in Windows 2000
Configure Security for Files and Folders on a Network (Domain) in Windows 2000
Monitor for Unauthorized User Access in Windows 2000
Prevent Users From Changing a Password Except When Required in Windows 2000
Prevent Users From Submitting Alternate Logon Credentials in Windows 2000
Restore an Encrypting File System Private Key for Encrypted Data Recovery in Windows 2000

Web Security

Plan

Perform Security Planning for Internet Information Services 5.0
Configure the Security for a Server That Uses Microsoft NNTP Service in Windows 2000
Configure User and Group Access on an Intranet in Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000
Provide Secure Point-to-Point Communications Across the Internet in Windows 2000
Safely Connect Your Company to the Internet in Windows 2000
Set SMTP Security Options in Windows 2000
Use IPSec Monitor in Windows 2000

Deploy

Enable SSL for All Customers Who Interact with Your Web Site in Internet Information Services
View or Change Authentication Methods in IIS

Operate

View or Change Authentication Methods in IIS
Prevent Users from Accessing Unauthorized Web Sites in ISA Server
Provide Internet Access Through a Firewall in Internet Security and Acceleration Server
Add an Authorized Page Warning in Windows 2000
Configure IIS 5.0 Web Site Authentication in Windows 2000
Install Imported Certificates on a Web Server in Windows 2000
Prevent Mail Relay in the IIS 5.0 SMTP Server in Windows 2000
Prevent Web Caching in Windows 2000
Secure XML Web Services with Secure Socket Layer in Windows 2000
Set Secure NTFS Permissions on IIS 5.0 Log Files and Virtual Directories in Windows 2000
Use Internet Protocol Security to Secure Network Traffic Between Two Hosts in Windows 2000
Use NTFS Security to Protect a Web Page Running on IIS 4.0 or 5.0

Windows XP

Access an EFI Partition in Windows XP 64-Bit Edition
Audit User Access of Files, Folders, and Printers in Windows XP
Change the Logon Window and the Shutdown Preferences in Windows XP
Configure a Preshared Key for Use with Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol Connections in Windows XP
Create and Disable Administrative Shares on Windows XP
Delegate Security for a Printer in Windows XP
Disable the Local Administrator Account in Windows
Encrypt a File in Windows XP
Encrypt a Folder in Windows XP
Encrypt Offline Files to Secure Data in Windows XP
Manage Stored User Names and Passwords on a Computer in a Domain in Windows XP
Manage Stored User Names and Passwords on a Computer That Is Not in a Domain in Windows XP
Prevent a User From Running or Stopping a Scheduled Process in Windows XP
Remove File Encryption in Windows XP
Set Up a .NET Passport Account in Windows XP
Set WMI Namespace Security in Windows XP
Set, View, Change, or Remove File and Folder Permissions in Windows XP
Set, View, Change, or Remove Special Permissions for Files and Folders in Windows XP
Share Access to an Encrypted File in Windows XP
Turn On Remote Desktop Automatic Logon in Windows XP
Use Cipher.exe to Overwrite Deleted Data in Windows
Use the Autologon Feature in the Remote Desktop Connection in Windows XP
Use the Group Policy Editor to Manage Local Computer Policy in Windows XP
Use the Microsoft Personal Security Advisor Web Site in Windows

Internet Security and Acceleration Server

Configure Logging in Internet Security and Acceleration Server
Set Up and Allocate Bandwidth in ISA Server
Configure the ISA Server 2000 HTTP Redirector Filter in Windows 2000
Enable Reporting in Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000
Filter ISA Server Web Proxy Cache Entries in Windows 2000
Monitor Server Activity in Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000
Securely Publish Multiple Web Sites by Using ISA Server in Windows 2000
Set Bandwidth Configuration in Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server

Networking How-Tos

March 8, 2008 – 2:02 PM

Topics on this Page

Windows 2000 Server
Windows 2000 Professional
Windows XP
Windows 95/98

Windows 2000 Server

Remotely Administer Windows 2000 Server
Adjust the Polling Interval of the Internet Time Feature
Connect a Handheld PC to a Terminal Services Server
Activate a License Server by Using Terminal Services Licensing in Windows 2000
Add an Attribute to the Global Catalog in Windows 2000
Allow Remote Users to Access Your Network in Windows 2000
Audit Active Directory Objects in Windows 2000
Back Up and Restore a Certificate Authority in Windows 2000
Change the IP Address of a Network Adapter in Windows 2000
Complete a Semantic Database Analysis for the Active Directory Database by Using Ntdsutil.exe
Configure a Primary Internet Authentication Service Server on a Domain Controller
Configure a Secondary Name Server in Windows 2000
Configure a User Account to Log on to Windows 2000-Based Computer from a NetWare Client
Configure a Wireless Link That Uses Infrared in Windows 2000
Configure Active Directory Diagnostic Event Logging in Windows 2000
Configure Clients to Use a Network Address Translation Server in Windows
Configure DNS Dynamic Update in Windows 2000
Configure DNS for Internet Access in Windows 2000
Configure DNS in a New Workgroup Environment in Windows 2000
Configure Local User Accounts Log On to Windows 2000 Server from a NetWare Client Computer
Configure One-Way Non-Transitive Trusts in Windows 2000
Configure Packet Filter Support for PPTP VPN Clients in Windows 2000
Configure Printer Settings in Windows 2000 Server
Configure Remote Access Client Account Lockout in Windows 2000
Configure Security for Files and Folders on a Network (Domain) in Windows 2000
Configure TCP/IP Networking While NetBIOS Is Disabled in Windows 2000 Server
Configure Terminal Services for Remote Administration Mode in Windows 2000
Configure the NAT Service in Windows 2000
Configure Windows 2000 to Be a Router
Configure Your Computer for Infrared Communication in Windows 2000
Connect to Shared Folders Over the Network (on a Domain) in Windows 2000
Control NTFS Permissions Inheritance in Windows
Create a System Data Source Name (DSN) in Windows 2000
Create and Configure a Site Link in Active Directory in Windows 2000
Create or Move a Global Catalog in Windows 2000
Delegate Administrative Authority in Windows 2000
Diagnose and Test TCP/IP or NetBIOS Network Connections in Windows 2000
Enable Active Directory Access Auditing in Windows 2000
Install and Configure a DHCP Server in a Workgroup in Windows 2000
Install and Configure a DHCP Server in an Active Directory Domain in Windows 2000
Install and Configure a File and Print Server in Windows 2000
Install and Configure the NWLink IPX/SPX/NetBIOS-Compatible Transport Protocol in Windows 2000 Server
Install MSDSS in Windows 2000 Server
Install Network Load Balancing Service That Was Previously Uninstalled in Windows 2000
Install Terminal Services in Application Server Mode in Windows 2000
Install Terminal Services in Remote Administration Mode in Windows 2000
Install the SAP Agent in Windows 2000 Server
Install WINS in Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2000 Advanced Server
Join a Workgroup in Windows 2000 Server
Manually Re-create a WINS Database in Windows
Migrate from UNIX to Windows Servers
Monitor for Unauthorized User Access in Windows 2000
Move Users, Groups, and Organizational Units Within a Domain in Windows 2000
Perform Advanced Network Load Balancing Procedures in Windows 2000
Perform an Authoritative Restore to a Domain Controller in Windows 20000
Perform Basic Network Load Balancing Procedures in Windows 2000
Prevent Users From Changing a Password Except When Required in Windows 2000
Prevent Users From Submitting Alternate Logon Credentials in Windows 2000
Recover a Deleted Domain Controller Computer Account in Windows 2000
Remove Active Directory with the Dcpromo Tool in Windows 2000
Restore an Encrypting File System Private Key for Encrypted Data Recovery in Windows 2000
Securely Copy and Paste Files Between the Terminal Services Client and the Terminal Server in Windows 2000
Set up a One-Way Non-Transitive Trust in Windows 2000
Set Up and Configure Remote Installation Services in Windows 2000
Set Up Remote Access for an Intranet in Windows 2000
Troubleshoot DNS Name Resolution on the Internet in Windows 2000
Use Both NetWare Servers and Windows Servers in Windows 2000
Use DNS to Find Networked Resources in Windows 2000 Server
Use Gateway Services for NetWare to Share a NetWare Printer with Client Computers in Windows 2000
Use Gateway Services for NetWare to Share a NetWare Volume or Folder with Client Computers in Windows 2000
Use Remote Storage in Windows 2000 Server
Use the Group Policy Migration Utility to Migrate Windows NT System Policy Settings
Use the Terminal Services Licensing Reporter Tool (Lsreport.exe)
View and Set Lightweight Directory Access Protocol Policies by Using Ntdsutil.exe in Windows 2000
Capture WAN Traffic with Network Monitor in Windows
Create Domain Organizational Units in Windows

Windows 2000 Professional

Configure TCP/IP Filtering in Windows 2000
Bind and Unbind Network Protocols and Services in Windows 2000
Change the IP Address of a Network Adapter in Windows 2000
Configure a Wireless Link That Uses Infrared in Windows 2000
Configure Clients to Use a Network Address Translation Server in Windows
Configure DNS Records for Your Web Site in Windows 2000
Configure Internet Printing in Windows 2000
Configure Routing and Remote Access Tracing in Windows 2000
Configure Your Computer for Infrared Communication in Windows 2000
Create a System Data Source Name (DSN) in Windows 2000
Install and Configure a Virtual Private Network Server in Windows 2000
Migrate a Printer Server Configuration Between Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000 Computers with the Printer Migrator 2000 Tool
Mount a Volume at an NTFS Folder in Windows 2000
Share Files and Folders Over a Network for Workgroups in Windows 2000
Use Both NetWare Servers and Windows Servers in Windows 2000
Use IPSec IP Filter Lists in Windows 2000
Use the Hfnetchk Hotfix Checker Tool in Windows 2000
Use the Ntdsutil Utility to Deny Access to IP Addresses in Windows 2000
Determine Which Program Uses or Blocks Specific Transmission Control Protocol Ports in Windows

Windows XP

Configure and Use Callback for Dial-Up Users in Windows XP
Configure a Connection to the Internet in Windows XP Professional
Configure a VPN Connection to Your Corporate Network in Windows XP Professional
Configure a Wireless Link That Uses Infrared in Windows XP
Configure and Use Dial-Up Connections in Windows XP
Configure Internet Connection Sharing in Windows XP
Configure TCP/IP to Use DNS in Windows XP
Connect and Disconnect a Network Drive in Windows XP
Connect to a Printer by Using a Web Browser in Windows XP
Create a PPPoE Connection in Windows XP
Create a Shortcut to a Network Location in Windows XP
Determine Which Program Uses or Blocks Specific Transmission Control Protocol Ports in Windows
Enable the Internet Connection Firewall Feature in Windows XP
Enable Windows XP Automatic Wireless Network Configuration
Install NetBEUI on Windows XP
Prevent the Network Setup Wizard From Creating a Bridge in Windows XP
Save and Restore Dial-up Connections in Windows XP
Search for a Computer on the Network in Windows XP
Set Up Multiple-Device (Multilink) Dialing in Windows XP
Use the Alternate Configuration Feature for Multiple Network Connectivity in Windows XP

Windows 95/98

Create a System Data Source Name (DSN) in Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT

Windows XP Professional How-Tos

March 8, 2008 – 2:00 PM

Topics on this Page:

Desktop Management
Internet Browsing and Web Services
Networking
Security
Setup Hardware
Mobility

Desktop Management

Plan/Deploy

Activate Windows XP
Add Components and Programs to a Computer in Windows XP
Add or Remove a Windows Component in Windows XP
Build a Logo Testing Environment for Software in Windows XP
Create a Custom Startup WinPE CD-ROM in Windows XP
–>Upgrade Windows 98 or Windows Millennium Edition Profiles to Windows XP Domain User Profiles
Use Compatibility Administration Tool in Windows XP
Use Group Policy to Deploy Windows XP in a Windows 2000-Based Network
Use Windows Program Compatibility Mode in Windows XP

Operate/Administer – User Interface

Add and Remove Names in Your Address Book in Windows XP
Add or Change a User’s Picture in Windows XP
Add or Remove Games in Windows XP
Arrange Files Using Folder Views in Windows XP
Change Drive Letter Assignments in Windows XP
Change File Associations in Windows XP
Change or Remove a Program in Windows XP
Configure Desktop Themes in Windows XP
Connect to Terminal Services with Color Resolution That Is Greater Than 256 in Windows XP
Control Accessibility Features for Visually Impaired Users by Using Utility Manager in Windows
Copy Music to and from an Audio CD in Windows XP
Create a Keyboard Shortcut for a Program in Windows XP
Create and Configure User Accounts in Windows XP
Created the Regional and Language Settings for an Unattended Installation of Windows MultiLanguage Version
Customize the Windows Explorer Views in Windows XP
Disable Notification Area Balloon Tips in Windows XP
Disable Visual Notification of 32-bit Program User Mode Exception Messages in 64-bit Versions of Windows XP
Display Comma Separators in System Monitor in Windows XP
Display, Use, and Clear “My Recent Documents” on the Start Menu in Windows XP
Distribute a Custom Desktop Theme to Users in Windows XP
Enable and Use the “Run As” Command When Running Programs in Windows
Enable or Disable the CTRL+ALT+DELETE Sequence for Logging On in Windows XP
Enable or Disable the New Interface Components in Windows XP
Erase Files From a CD-RW Disc in Windows XP
Export Names from Your Windows XP Address Book to Another Program
Force Users to Quit Programs and Log Off After a Period of Inactivity in Windows XP
Import Contacts into Your Address Book in Windows XP
Install and Configure Handwriting Recognition in Windows XP
Install Backup from the CD-ROM in Windows XP Home Edition
Prevent a Program from Being Displayed in the Most Frequently Used Programs List in Windows XP
Publish Pictures to the Internet in Windows XP
Remove Instant Messaging Users for Windows Messenger on Windows XP-Based Computers
Save a Search Query in Windows XP
Search for Files and Folders in Windows XP
Search for People and Groups on the Internet in Windows XP
Search for People in the Address Book in Windows XP
Set Accessibility Features for People Who Are Blind or Who Have Low Vision in Windows XP
Set Accessibility Features for People Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing in Windows XP
Set Accessibility Features for People with Motion Disabilities in Windows XP
Set the Command Processor Appearance in Windows XP
Specify the Program Used to Open Certain Types of Files in Windows XP
Start Setup from MS-DOS in Windows XP
Start the System Restore Tool from a Command Prompt in Windows XP
Synchronize the Time with the Windows Time Service in Windows XP
Turn Off, Display, and Select an Animated Character in Search Companion in Windows XP
Use Automatic Completion with a Command Prompt in Windows XP
Use ClearType to Enhance Screen Fonts in Windows XP
Use Compressed (Zipped) Folders in Windows XP
Use Disk Management to Configure Basic Disks in Windows XP
Use the Briefcase Feature in Windows XP
Use the Desktop Cleanup Wizard in Windows XP
Use the Fast User Switching Feature in Windows XP
Use the Language Bar in Windows XP
Use the Oeminfo.ini File to Brand and Provide Support Information in Windows XP
Use the RUN AS Command to Start a Program as an Administrator in Windows XP
Use the United States-International Keyboard Layout in Windows XP
Use the Windows Classic Theme in Windows XP

Operate/Administer – Multimedia

Configure and Use Text to Speech in Windows XP
Copy a CD-ROM in Windows XP
Create Multiple CD-ROMs from a Set of Files in Windows XP
Display the Volume Icon in the Notification Area in WIndows
Find a Printer in Active Directory and Set Up a Connection in Windows XP
Install and Configure Speech Recognition in Windows XP
Set the My Documents Folder as “Private” in Windows XP
Shadow a Remote Desktop Session in Windows XP Professional
Use Speech Recognition in Windows XP
Use Speech Recognition Profiles in Windows XP

Operate/Administer – Performance

Manage System Monitor Counters in Windows XP

Operate/Administer – Resource Management

Analyze and Defragment a Disk in Windows XP
Back Up Information to a CD in Windows XP
Change a GUID Partition Table Disk into a Master Boot Record Disk in Windows XP
Change Date, Time, Number, and Currency Value Displays in Windows XP
Configure a Computer to Receive Remote Assistance Offers in Windows XP
Configure Automatic Updates to Prompt You Before You Download Updates in Windows XP
Configure Offline Files to Synchronize When a Particular Network Connection Becomes Active
Configure or Disable Solicited Remote Assistance in Windows XP
Configure the Search Companion in Windows XP
Configure Your Computer for Infrared Communication in Windows XP
Connect to Peripheral Devices with IrDA
Convert a FAT16 or FAT32 Volume to NTFS in Windows XP
Convert an IEEE 1394 Disk Drive to a Dynamic Disk Drive in Windows XP
Convert to Basic and Dynamic Disks in Windows XP Professional
Create a Boot Disk for an NTFS or FAT Partition in Windows XP
Create a Mirrored Volume in Windows XP
Create a Multiple-Boot System in Windows XP
Create a System Data Source Name in Windows XP
Create and Disable Administrative Shares on Windows XP
Create and Save a Custom Console by Using Microsoft Management Console in Windows XP
Create and Use a Password Reset Disk for a Computer That Is Not a Domain Member in Windows XP
Create and Use NTFS Mounted Drives in Windows XP
Create Disk Quota Reports in Windows XP
Disable Simplified Sharing and Password-Protect a Shared Folder in Windows XP
Disable the NTFS File System Tracking of Broken Shortcut Links
Distribute Registry Changes to Computers in Windows XP
Enable and Configure the Fax Service in Windows XP
Enable or Disable Print Job Notifications in Windows XP
Enable Remote Assistance in Windows XP
Export and Import Disk Quota Settings to Other Volumes in Windows XP
Fax a Document from a Windows Program in Windows XP
Fax a Scanned Document or Image in Windows XP
Install a Printer Driver Locally for a Remote Printer in Windows XP
Make a Local Printer Available During a Connection to a Remote Desktop in Windows XP Professional
Manage Environment Variables in Windows XP
Modify Scheduled Tasks in Windows XP
Move the Paging File in Windows XP
Move the Spool Folder in Windows XP
Obtain Remote Assistance by Sending an E-mail Message in Windows XP
Obtain Remote Assistance Using Windows Messenger in Windows XP
Prepare and Scan a FAT32 Partition for Virus Detection and Removal in Windows
Print a Device Manager Report in Windows XP
Provide Remote Assistance in Response to an E-mail Invitation in Windows XP
Provide Remote Assistance In Response to Windows Messenger Invitation in Windows XP
Receive a Fax in Windows XP
Re-Create a Missing Automated System Recovery Floppy Disk in Windows XP
Schedule a Server Process in Windows XP Professional
Schedule Tasks in Windows XP
Script Compatibility Layers in Windows XP
Search For Hidden Or System Files In Windows XP
Send a Fax in Windows XP
Set Up a Direct Cable Connection Between Two Computers in Windows XP
Set Up Administrative Alerts in Windows XP
Use Backup to Back Up Files and Folders on Your Computer in Windows XP
Use Backup to Restore Files and Folders on Your Computer in Windows XP
Use Computer Management in Windows XP
Use Disk Management to Configure Dynamic Disks in Windows XP
Use File Compression in Windows XP
Use Files and Settings Transfer Wizard in Windows XP
Use Offline Files in Windows XP
Use the Diskpart.efi Utility to Create a GUID Partition Table Partition on a Raw Disk in Windows
Use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard By Using the Windows XP CD-ROM
Use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard with a Wizard Disk in Windows XP
Use the Program Compatibility Wizard in Windows XP
Use Windows XP to Create a RAID-5 Volume on a Remote Windows 2000 Computer
Work with Scheduled Tasks on Remote Computers in Windows XP

Operate/Administer – User Management

Assign a Mandatory User Profile in Windows XP
Automatically Log On a User Account in Windows XP
Configure and Use Error Reporting in Windows XP
Create and Use a Password Reset Disk for a Computer in a Domain in Windows XP
Gain Access to Local Files by Using a Remote Desktop Connection in Windows XP
Manage Groups in the Address Book in Windows XP
Restore Icons That Have Been Removed from the Desktop in Windows XP
Take Ownership of a File or Folder in Windows XP

Support/Troubleshoot

Add More Power to Recovery Console By Using Group Policy in Windows XP
Edit the Boot.ini File in Windows XP
Install and Use the Recovery Console in Windows XP
Log System Monitor Data to SQL Server in Windows XP
Restore the Operating System to a Previous State in Windows XP
Start Your Computer by Using the Last Known Good Configuration Feature in Windows XP
Troubleshoot Windows XP Setup Problems When You Upgrade from Windows 98 or Windows Me
Use Qfixapp.exe in Windows XP
Use the Netdom.exe Utility to Rename a Computer in Windows XP
Use the System Restore Utility with Windows Management Instrumentation in Windows XP
View and Manage Event Logs in Event Viewer in Windows XP

Internet Browsing and Web Services

Use Windows Messenger Instant Messaging in Windows Messenger
Use Windows Messenger to Make Voice Calls to Another Computer in Windows XP

Networking

Configure and Use Callback for Dial-Up Users in Windows XP
Configure a Connection to the Internet in Windows XP Professional
Configure a VPN Connection to Your Corporate Network in Windows XP Professional
Configure a Wireless Link That Uses Infrared in Windows XP
Configure and Use Dial-Up Connections in Windows XP
Configure Internet Connection Sharing in Windows XP
Configure TCP/IP to Use DNS in Windows XP
Connect and Disconnect a Network Drive in Windows XP
Connect to a Printer by Using a Web Browser in Windows XP
Create a PPPoE Connection in Windows XP
Create a Shortcut to a Network Location in Windows XP
Determine Which Program Uses or Blocks Specific Transmission Control Protocol Ports in Windows
Enable the Internet Connection Firewall Feature in Windows XP
Enable Windows XP Automatic Wireless Network Configuration
Install NetBEUI on Windows XP
Prevent the Network Setup Wizard From Creating a Bridge in Windows XP
Save and Restore Dial-up Connections in Windows XP
Search for a Computer on the Network in Windows XP
Set Up Multiple-Device (Multilink) Dialing in Windows XP
Use the Alternate Configuration Feature for Multiple Network Connectivity in Windows XP

Security

Access an EFI Partition in Windows XP 64-Bit Edition
Audit User Access of Files, Folders, and Printers in Windows XP
Change the Logon Window and the Shutdown Preferences in Windows XP
Configure a Preshared Key for Use with Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol Connections in Windows XP
Create and Disable Administrative Shares on Windows XP
Delegate Security for a Printer in Windows XP
Disable the Local Administrator Account in Windows
Encrypt a File in Windows XP
Encrypt a Folder in Windows XP
Encrypt Offline Files to Secure Data in Windows XP
Manage Stored User Names and Passwords on a Computer in a Domain in Windows XP
Manage Stored User Names and Passwords on a Computer That Is Not in a Domain in Windows XP
Prevent a User From Running or Stopping a Scheduled Process in Windows XP
Remove File Encryption in Windows XP
Set Up a .NET Passport Account in Windows XP
Set WMI Namespace Security in Windows XP
Set, View, Change, or Remove File and Folder Permissions in Windows XP
Set, View, Change, or Remove Special Permissions for Files and Folders in Windows XP
Share Access to an Encrypted File in Windows XP
Turn On Remote Desktop Automatic Logon in Windows XP
Use Cipher.exe to Overwrite Deleted Data in Windows
Use the Autologon Feature in the Remote Desktop Connection in Windows XP
Use the Group Policy Editor to Manage Local Computer Policy in Windows XP
Use the Microsoft Personal Security Advisor Web Site in Windows

Setup Hardware

Plan/Deploy

Add or Remove Mass Storage Drivers for a Custom Version of the Windows Preinstall Environment in Windows XP
Use Sysprep.exe Tool to Automate Successful Deployment of Windows XP

Operate/Administer

Change the Screen Refresh Rate of Your Monitor in Windows XP
Configure and Use Multiple Monitors in Windows XP
Configure Automatic Updating in Windows XP
Configure Devices By Using Device Manager in Windows XP
Determine the Firmware Version of an Itanium-Based Workstation Computer in Windows
Manage Devices in Windows XP
Set Up Hardware Profiles for Laptop Computers in Windows XP
Verify Unsigned Device Drivers in Windows XP

Support/Troubleshoot

Enable Logging of Wiadebug.log in Windows XP
Flash Firmware in Itanium Versions of Windows
Resources for Troubleshooting Sound Problems in Windows XP
Troubleshoot the Video Adapter Driver in Safe Mode in Windows XP
Use the Driver Roll Back Feature to Restore a Previous Version of a Device Driver in Windows XP
Use the Roll Back Driver Feature in Windows XP
View the Storage Devices That Are Displayed As “USB SCSI Storage Device” in Windows XP

Mobility

Configure a Connection to a Virtual Private Network in Windows XP
Configure Recovery Techniques in Windows XP
Use IrComm Mobile Devices and Windows XP to Access the Internet

NT/2K/XP – A Brief History

March 8, 2008 – 1:58 PM

~Lockergnome

What’s the difference? Well, at the very core of them, not much. When you see talk of Windows 98/ME being more stable than Windows 2000 or XP, don’t buy into it. Not because 98SE isn’t one of Microsoft’s better efforts, but because of the disaster of an OS architecture that it still relies upon. By the end of the road, Windows 9x had become such a massive quagmire of heaped on patches and features that it ultimately led to Windows ME… arguably the worst operating system release to ever come from Microsoft. I’d rather use Window 95 than ME.

Windows NT started as a joint venture between IBM and Microsoft you might have heard of… OS/2. A long-running spat between the two eventually forced a split, and each walked away with a copy of the code and the intention to take it in their own direction. The intent was to design a completely modular operating system whereby entire portions of the system could be replaced at will by third parties or by Microsoft in order to support varying hardware platforms, security models or interface elements. Memory management and process separation were paramount design goals. This is the single most important factor in system and application stability because one failed driver or program should not be capable of taking down the entire operating system.

 

Shooting themselves in the foot, enter the magical Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). Instead, a single driver or application can cause the operating system to detect the failure, but not understand how to handle the error. The result is a wealth of dump information that is still of little help to this day. Better than a generic VxD error that can be caused by something totally unrelated, but this trend of STOP error codes having many different meanings isn’t much better, and early versions of NT would gak on even the most trivial of error conditions. The upside is that somebody on the planet can take that information and turn it into something useful… just not anyone that you or I can easily reach. But I digress.

When NT 3.1 was released, it brought Windows to the server for real… well, sort of. Narrow hardware support, half-hearted feature sets and stability nightmares galore labeled 3.1 as a retail Beta release, but if all of the ducks where lined up in a neat little row, it ran quite well. Then came 3.5, which improved things quite a bit, but still left a sour taste in the mouths of customers Microsoft was trying to win over from Novell and Banyan, mainly due to a complete lack of maturity of features and little in the way of real interoperability with existing networks.

Windows NT 3.51 was when this new entrant really made its debut. It wasn’t great, but it was good enough to put into production for certain things. File and print serving were adequate, and it made for an acceptable SQL and Exchange platform. The workstation version was rough, however. Compatibility was difficult, at best. 16-bit Windows application support made DOS look like a step forward. This would get better, though.

NT 4.0 is generally considered to be when the Windows NT core came into its own, and I would have to agree. I would use NT 4.0 whenever possible, dual-booting with Windows 95/98 only when absolutely necessary because of the relative stability that NT offered and the more advanced security and file system features included in the OS. Finally, a workstation OS that would let me take full advantage of extra RAM and multiple CPUs, while still letting me limp along with some games and “legacy” applications if tweaked properly. I was working for an insurance company at the time of the NT 4.0 release and we decided to make NT 4.0 Workstation the standard for desktops company-wide. I considered this to be a relative success, having migrated and rolled out some 800+ PCs based on NT 4.0 and aside from a funky token ring card driver, everything ran quite well. I truly liked NT 4.0, but was eagerly awaiting improvements in Windows 2000.

As hardware advanced, and the vision of ditching the 9x code base creeped closer, Microsoft had to do something about the constant install-and-reboot issues, power management, networking services and multimedia support. These were the highlights of Windows 2000, and they couldn’t come soon enough. Driver development is probably the one thing that held Windows 2000 back from replacing Windows 9x outright rather than waiting for Windows XP. For whatever reason, manufacturers just didn’t get the hint. They still saw that the majority were using 9x, so why play to that geek crowd that just likes to be different? They eventually learned the hard way, but at the expense of many frustrated customers that wanted what Windows 2000 could give them otherwise.

Now we’re at Windows XP. Still based on the very beginnings of Windows NT, though obviously quite a bit different these days. No longer is Microsoft bent on the modular rip-and-replace design of years past. Some of that capability is still around, but mainly used in server systems that require specific Hardware Abstraction Layer components in order for the OS to speak to the hardware properly. Aside from that, you don’t see many entire shell replacements, network authentication modules or other allowances for non-Microsoft modifications (e.g. entire antitrust debacle).

The overall stability of Windows XP has been quite good. Even fewer reboots are required today, though I’m still waiting for the day when all but kernel-level changes lack the requirement of a system restart. Reboots are annoying. Hot-docking, suspend, hibernate and other dynamic features within Windows XP are admittedly better, but still problematic. And don’t even get me started on XP Service Pack 1. I’m still avoiding it like the plague, in case you’re wondering.

So, here we are in late 2002, with the next major version of Windows due somewhere around 2005-2006 and that doesn’t really bother me. Windows ME showed what can happen if things are rushed in an effort to have another source of revenue. There is talk of an interim release of some sort, but the details are sketchy at this point. Microsoft is moving in the right direction, having finally shoved all operating systems over to the NT code base. It’s far more stable, efficient, secure and usable than 98 or ME ever were. Gamers still have a few gripes, but those should be thrown at the game developers for not waking up long ago. DirectX is DirectX, and if a developer isn’t following along with what Microsoft is doing, then they will fall behind the times. I play a few games under XP and have few problems. In fact, it’s better in most cases because of how memory and system resources are utilized.

At the end of this little lesson in history and perspective, should you upgrade to Windows 2000 or XP? I still say it depends. If all you do is surf, read email and watch a video or two, 98 or ME will still suffice. Should you could yourself to be dependant on your computer for much more, I would say that you should seriously consider the move. However, let me qualify that with a plea for how you go about it. Please, please, do not “upgrade”. Do a clean installation. It’s worth every bit of time and effort to wipe the slate clean rather than trying to move to an entirely different architecture while preserving your settings and applications from the past several years. Things are bound to go wrong, no matter how much time and effort Microsoft puts into smooth transitions. They can never account for every nasty application, suspect driver and legacy device among the billions of combinations. Start over. You’ll be a much happier camper. I’ve been using NT-based operating systems since before NT was NT, and ask that you trust me on this one. You would still qualify for the upgrade version of the OS, but this does not require you to perform an actual upgrade of your existing installation. You simply have to have the media from your existing OS handy for verification that you do have an upgradeable product.

Also, don’t even think about Windows XP with less than 256MB of RAM. I know the book answer is 128MB, but forget it. You’re kidding yourself. XP is a pig, and the more RAM you can give it, the better. I run with 512MB in my notebook, and when I get rolling, I can chew that up quite easily. Bloated code, useless services enabled by default, and a prefetch engine that loves RAM… welcome to Windows. For what it’s worth, I have the same recommendation for MacOS X. Anything less than 256MB of RAM, and it can get painful (though you can do more with 256MB under OS X than under XP). I’m afraid it’s the way of the world from here on out. Remember the days when a 1GB disk (heck, a 5MB disk) was considered huge? Today, 1GB of RAM is more common than you might think. I have 2GB in my Gateway 6400 server and plan to move to 4GB in my Dell PowerEdge 1400SC server down the road. I’d have 1GB in my notebook already if it supported such capacities.