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Windows-Help.NET Newsletter13 Mar. 1999, Vol 2 No. 11

 Privacy "Issues" hit Windows 98

by Arie Slob

Dear Windows-Help.NET Subscriber,

Boy, it has been one of those weeks! After a programmer, Richard M. Smith, of Brookline, Massachusetts, last week reported that he found a hidden "code" number in documents he created with MS Word & Excel (when used in combination with Windows 98), the mainstream media picked the story up, and as usual when that happens with computer-related issues, facts & fiction got mixed.

The true extent of the problem is not yet clear to many experts, and I have been trying to get as much information about it as possible, but it's difficult to get a clear picture.

If you want to get a good breakdown of the facts known so far, I suggest you read Woody's Office Watch of 10 March 1999. It has most of the facts, as reported by Richard Smith - the "horse's" mouth, if you wish.

One thing worth adding here is that, after the article in WOW was written, Richard Smith further discovered that the Windows 98 Registration Wizard (RegWiz), which is an ActiveX control, can be used by any Web site to read your HWID (Hardware ID) and MSID (your Microsoft ID, which is used by MS to track your movements on their Web site). For more information on the Microsoft RegWiz control, and how to disable it, check this Windows-Help.NET troubleshooting document.

If you want to read more on this, here are some links to get you started:

WashingtonPost: Microsoft to Rid Windows of Tracking Numbers.
ZDNet: MS admits Windows privacy flaw.
C|NET: Microsoft admits privacy problem, plans fix.
CMP NET: Microsoft Aims To Fix Win 98 Privacy Issue.

Microsoft's official position (which doesn't address the real problem, but who would have thought they would...) can be found here:
Original Letter & Update.

And of course they are calling it a BUG (well, they call it a "potential privacy issue" and say: "it was brought to our attention that the Windows 98 Registration Wizard might inadvertently be sending a specific hardware identifier to Microsoft during user registration"), as they would have a real problem if it was determined that this was done by design...

Anyway, they (Microsoft) have provided Intel with a breather over the Pentium III ID issue, as that looks like child's play in comparison to this "issue".

In a move which surprised many, lawyers for Intel and the Federal Trade Commission last Monday announced that they had reached a tentative agreement to settle the antitrust case, which was due to start on the 9th of March. The deal is not final, and there seems to be some confusion on the exact implications of the deal. Intergraph, one of the companies who brought the case to court, said they will continue legal action against Intel. To be continued.....

Fix Available for Windows NT "KnownDLLs List" Vulnerability

This is an update to the article posted in the Newsletter of 27 February, which only listed a workaround for the problem. Microsoft has now released a patch, and also updated the list of affected products.

More information, and links to the hot fix can be found in the Microsoft Knowledge Base Article No. Q218473.

Outlook 98 archive patch

According to Microsoft, if you perform an archive operation in Microsoft Outlook, and your computer fails for an external reason (such as the power going out), when you restart Outlook, you may notice that some information that should be archived is not present in the original folder or in the folder to which it should have been archived.

More information, and links to the fix can be found in the Microsoft Knowledge Base Article No. Q214575.


DU Meter 2.20 Released
Hagel Technologies has released version 2.20 of its award-winning utility DU Meter. The new version includes the ability to specify which network device to monitor, as well as a host of minor bug fixes and usability improvements. Recent winner of the Microsoft Windows Users Group Shareware Hall of Fame, DU Meter now reports registered users in 100 countries worldwide!!!
Shareware $15.00 USD
Windows 95 / 98 / NT4

Web site | Download [397KB]

Netscape Communicator 4.51 Released
Netscape Communicator 4.51 for MacOS, Unix and Windows, as well as a few international versions are available for download on the Netscape servers. This update patches security holes (but not all), expands instant messaging capabilities, etc.

Intel releases Indeo® video 5.1 and audio 2.5
Indeo® video 5 is the latest release of Intel's video compression and decompression software. It features greatly improved visual quality, better compression, and playback performance enhancements for MMX technology and the Pentium® II processor. The new release also features an exciting new feature called Progressive Download, which allows high-quality, scalable video to be played back from Internet and Intranet Web pages.

Overview | Release Notes
Download [1.9MB] Win 9.x / NT

Windows 98 Tip
Change the Refresh rate of your Graphical Adapter
You can change the Refresh rate of your Graphics Adapter easily, for more information see this document.

Windows 95 & 98 Tip
Turning off Password at start-up
If you have a network installed, each time you log on you will be asked for a password. You can easily disable this:

More (Win95) More (Win98)

Carelessly planned projects take three times longer to complete than expected. Carefully planned projects take four times longer to complete than expected, mostly because the planners expect their planning to reduce the time it takes.

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Ask your Windows 95 / 98 / NT questions here!

  Web site updates

These pages where updated/added in the past week:

Windows 95
Updated: Print Configuration Summary

Windows 98
Added: How to Disable Microsoft's Registry Wizard
Added: How do I know which Windows 98 Updates are Installed?
Updated: Using System File Checker
Updated: Print Configuration Summary

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