August 11, 2000

Window Manager, Brian Livingston

Windows 2000 SP1 fixes some problems, but you should know about these tricks first

A FEW DAYS AGO, Microsoft released its first bug fix, known as Service Pack 1 or SP1, for Windows 2000. Now even the most cautious NT users have no excuse not to upgrade to Windows 2000.

The SP1 download is available at www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/recommended/ sp1/default.asp. On that page you'll find several links to additional information, including a guide to installation and deployment, which you may want to read before the upgrade.

SP1 doesn't include new features for Windows 2000 because Microsoft says its customers have requested that service packs contain only bug fixes. But there is an improved version of Terminal Services, downloadable separately from the same page.

Although it's not a mandatory upgrade, SP1 does include dozens of small bug fixes that make it worth the time for almost any business that uses Windows 2000. In particular, SP1 fixes several security weaknesses that have been discovered in Windows 2000 and other components (such as Outlook and Outlook Express). For Microsoft's complete list of known issues that SP1 fixes, see support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q259/5/24.asp.

The only major concern I've heard with SP1 is how it interferes with the personal firewall products ZoneAlarm and BlackICE (see "New program stops Windows 2000/NT/98 security weaknesses and Trojans for free").

If you're using either of these two firewall products and you install SP1 and reboot, you won't be able to access your network or the Internet.

Fortunately, ZoneLabs, the maker of ZoneAlarm, has published a work-around. Simply change ZoneAlarm's Internet security level from High to Medium. ZoneLabs says this won't leave you unprotected because ZoneAlarm still controls which applications can connect to the Net. Details are at www.zonelabs.com/zonealarmnews.htm. A more permanent fix is to download a ZoneAlarm patch tailored to work with Windows 2000 SP1. To get the patch, set your browser to www.zonelabs.com/downloads/tvupd_w2ksp1.exe.

Paul Thurott, editor of the WinInfo newsletter, charges that Microsoft knew during the beta test of SP1 that it interfered with personal firewalls but didn't put that information into its release notes. For his analysis, see www.wininformant.com/display.asp?ID=2852.

My thanks to Bruce Kratofil, my co-author of Windows 2000 Secrets, for his help with this subject.

Now for a few Windows 2000 tips.

In response to my request for readers' favorite Windows 2000 tips, I've received several that I'd like to share with you in this and future columns.

Richard Harber liked my tip about dragging the My Computer icon onto Windows 2000's Start button to get a cascading menu. He suggests one that he likes even better.

Using the Windows Explorer, Harber says, "try dragging your domain/workgroup name from Network Places, Entire Network, Microsoft Windows Network, {domain/workgroup name}. This not only shows you all network PCs and servers, but also the shares and shortcuts associated with those PCs and servers."

David Morris liked the feature in NT 4.0 that lets you complete a path in the text-mode command processor by pressing the Tab key. But he didn't like the fact that this trick is turned off by default in Windows 2000.

Here's how to turn it back on: Click Start, Run, then type regedt32 and click OK. Find the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Command Processor

In this key, edit the value called CompletionChar. Set the value of REG_DWORD to 9, which is the ASCII value of the Tab key. Exit the Registry Editor, and you're done. You can now use the Tab key to complete commands, without having to restart Windows 2000.

For more information on this feature, see support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q244/4/07.asp.

Finally, Kurt Levitan has a tip for those of you who are upgrading to Windows 2000 from Windows 98.

"I discovered that none of my scheduled tasks were running," Levitan writes. "It seems that they needed a user account/password to be set for them to run. Without this knowledge, important scheduled tasks may never run and the user may not notice it for some time."

Readers Harber, Morris, and Levitan will receive a free copy of Windows 2000 Secrets for being the first to send tips I printed.

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