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Windows-Help.NET Newsletter06 Feb. 1999, Vol 2 No. 6

 Windows 98 to live longer!

by Arie Slob

Dear Windows-Help.NET Subscriber,

Microsoft announced that Windows 98 "lifetime" is to be extended through 2003, two years longer then originally planned. This means that consumers won't need to upgrade their hardware to run a consumer version of Windows NT, which will require 64MB of memory and a 300MHz processor.

It was expected that a next consumer release would be based on the NT kernel, and that still seems to be the case, but there could be one or more releases based on Windows 9.x code. Early last year, Bill Gates predicted that a consumer OS based on the NT kernel would be released by 2001. That seems to be at least three years off. Microsoft is still maintaining that the next "major" consumer release will be the "NT consumer", but then it all depends on the word "major". Rumours are that the next Windows 98 "upgrade" will be called "Windows 2000 Personal Edition".

Driving forces for this delay seem to be the hardware requirements and software compatibility. For one thing, Microsoft got a lot of complaints when it introduced Windows 98, that the software giant underestimated hardware requirements. A lot of people have had serious trouble in getting Windows 98 to work on their older machines. Some relief is to be expected from the upcoming release of Service Pack 1, currently in Beta testing. The SR1 is expected to be available to OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), to be pre-loaded on new systems around June.

SR1 is rumoured to consist of Internet Explorer 5.0, DirectX 6.1 (available now, see article in this Newsletter), and other updates such as Windows Media Player, updated WebTV support, and networking upgrades, as well as other fixes/upgrades. The upgrade is likely to exceed 100MB in size. It's not clear if Microsoft is going to make the SR1 available as a single download, or that users will have to download components individually (most likely).

The other issue is well known with people currently running NT: The games compatibility is going to be a huge issue. Then there are Plug and Play and PCMCIA support issues as well.

Jesse Best, Editorial Director of ZDNet's AnchorDesk has a clear view. According to him a consumer NT will never happen. Read his reasoning.

It was also announced that the next Beta of Windows 2000 is expected somewhere in April, and the final version is expected to ship in late 1999. Take it from me, that won't happen. As numerous experts have pointed out, Microsoft is well aware that IT budgets from the second quarter onward are largely reserved for Y2K issues, so they'll probably delay shipping Windows 2000 to somewhere in the first few months of the year 2000.

In the meantime, Linus Torvalds released the new version of Linux, version 2.2 last week. Some of the improvements to the kernel were updated support for multiprocessor systems, improved file access - using a high-speed memory cache, smoother memory management, firewalls, RAID (disk arrays) and improved hardware support (particularly high-speed connections).

More information can be found at LinuxHQ.

Dell is the latest in a series of hardware makers to announce increased support for Linux. Last week Dell announced it is teaming up with Red Hat, to supply specific Dell servers and workstations with Linux.

One of the things driving this is price. With servers coming to the market with sub $2000 prices, saving $600 on an operating system is becoming more of an issue.

Hewlett Packard and Silicon Graphics both announced support for Linux last week. HP's NetServer line is being offered with Linux pre-installed. SGI plans to make Linux one of its core operating system options. Momentum is building!

Bill Gates in the mean time seems to have taken notice of our suggestion in the Newsletter of 09 January 1999 to sell (some) of his Microsoft stock.   He gave notice to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that he is planning to sell 3.5 million shares (out of a total of about 510 million), which would net him a cool $550 million.

Patch Available for IIS "Malformed FTP List Request" Vulnerability

Microsoft has released a patch that eliminates a vulnerability in the Internet Information Server® FTP service. This vulnerability could allow denial of service attacks against the server or, under certain conditions, could allow arbitrary code to be executed on the server.

More information related to this issue in Microsoft Knowledge Base Article No. Q188348.


DirectX 6.1
Microsoft Corp. announced shipment of version 6.1 of the Microsoft® DirectX® Software Development Kit (SDK), including the first public release of the widely heralded Microsoft DirectMusic API as well as native support for the Intel Pentium III processor family.

Also available for download is the consumer version of DirectX 6.1

Win 95/98

Intel to move to 0.18 micron
Intel will bring its 0.18 micron process online ahead of schedule, amid growing competition. It is expected that the first Pentium III chips based on 0.18 micron technology will be available in the first half of this year. Those chips will initially be designed for notebooks, but other versions will follow soon.

The move will lower the core voltage from the 1.8 volt currently used to 1.5 volts for desktops and 1.1 volts for mobile PC's. While initial (0.25 micron) offerings of the Pentium III will run at 450MHz and 500MHz, it is expected that Intel will push a 0.18 micron Pentium III to about 800MHz.

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Win 95/98/NT, shareware $20.00

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Windows 95 Tip
Automatic Re-dialing
You can configure Windows 95 Dial-Up Networking to automatically re-dial your ISP - up to 100 times - when it encounters a busy signal.


Windows 98 Tip
Using DMA (Bus Mastering)
Traditionally IDE devices where programmed to transfer data in PIO (Programmed I/O) mode. In this mode data is transferred to and from IDE devices via CPU instructions. This requires a relatively large amount of dedicated CPU time, especially when transferring large amounts of data. A typical machine today will use 40% of the CPU doing hard drive transfers in PIO mode and use only 25% of the CPU doing hard drive transfers in DMA mode, on the same hardware.

To Bus Master your system and determine whether your drive supports DMA:


Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.

  Happy 99.exe / Office 2000 / LCD pricing

A new "worm" (so called because it can replicate on it's own) called Happy99.exe is making its way around the Internet, according to data security firm Data Fellows Inc. The worm does not attempt to destroy files on infected machines, but it sends e-mails and newsgroup postings without the victim's knowledge.

Happy99 arrives as an e-mail (or newsgroup) attachment and infects only users who run the attachment. Once they do, all that victims see is a window with a fireworks display. But in the background, the worm alters the host computer's winsock32.dll file, the system's connection to the Internet. Then, each time a user initiates e-mail or newsgroup activity, by either receiving or sending e-mail or posting to a newsgroup, Happy99 spams the newsgroup or e-mail recipient with copies of itself.

Rob Rosenberger has a great take on Happy99 on his Computer Virus Myths homepage:

"Beware any file sent by someone you don't know. Beware any file sent by someone you DO know. Let me also remind everyone: computer security alerts never die ... they just get a new life-cycle".


"Let me remind everyone: 2.8 trillion other filenames might also contain a virus or Trojan horse".

A full description and instructions on how to remove the worm can be found at Symantec's Web site.


Office 2000
Microsoft have opened a Web site devoted to preview Office 2000. Under the banner of "Inside Office 2000: A product-by-product preview", you'll find all the information about the separate components making up the suite: Word, Excel, FrontPage, PhotoDraw, Outlook, Publisher, PowerPoint and Access.

This product information is complemented by productivity-, accessibility-, Y2K- and other information. Well worth a visit if you want to know more about Office 2000!

Flat-panel prices to increase.

Yes, no mistake there, all major LCD manufacturers announced that the prices will increase around 15-40% in the next 6 months. They cite strong demand and limited supply as the reason for the increase. So if you were waiting to see if the price would drop any further, before deciding to buy a flat panel display, now may be your best bet. It'll take a while before prices will go down again.

According to DisplaySearch, a research firm, prices dropped over 50% last year, mainly due to oversupply. But LCD manufacturers have scaled back on new investments, saying they need to make their current plants profitable first. The tighter supply may last for 1 to 1 1/2 years (before new plants come on-line).

  COOL Software!

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