Issue 55 - 1st July 2001
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FROM THE EDITOR
Various people have written some pretty scary stories recently
about Product Activation in Office XP. Most stories were
written before the final release of the product was available,
and generally did a very good job of spreading FUD about how
installing Office XP would be a major problem.
Yesterday I installed Office XP on my PC. This wasn't a beta
release but a proper shrink-wrapped copy. It was actually the
Developer Edition, but one of the 9 CDs in the pack was labelled
Office XP Professional. I'm not ready to do any development
work yet, so that's the disc I installed. And I thought you may
be interested to know how the install went.
At the start, installing OXP is no different to putting Office
2000 on a machine. You run the SETUP program on the CD and you
type in the 25-character Product ID key which is printed on the
CD case. You should probably make a backup copy of the CD and
also keep a copy of the ID key handy, just in case. And with all
this anti-piracy stuff now in place, I don't see how Microsoft
can complain. It's not as if you can give copies of the backup CD
to dozens of friends.
Which brings me onto the Activation Wizard. Each time you
Office XP application (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc), the Wizard
pops up and asks if you're ready to activate Office. If you keep
saying no, then the product drops into a near-useless mode after
50 goes. You can load and print existing document files but you
can't create new ones or edit existing ones.
To activate the product you need to have a phone handy, or the PC
needs to be connected to the Internet (if you have a dial-up
connection, the connection needs to be active or OXP generates
an error. Seems it isn't smart enough to dial your default connection
itself). Select your country from a large drop-down list (this
is compulsory). Enter your name and address if you want (this is
optional). Press a button. Wait 5 seconds. That's it. Activation
is now done, and you have unlimited use of Office XP. No need to
re-register every year, or anything like that. Well, not unless
you bought the cut-price annual subscription version.
If you reinstall Office XP on that same PC, you will need to
re-activate but this won't be a problem. Even if you change the
hard disk or the memory or the CPU. But if there are changes
in more than 2 of the things that Office XP uses to tie the product
to a particular PC, you'll have to pick up the phone and explain
the reason to a Microsoft person.
I'm not in favour of Product Activation. It is an irritating
inconvenience, which makes me assume that Microsoft doesn't
trust me and therefore doesn't like its customers any more.
Ironically, software pirates who manage to get hold of illegal
copies of the corporate version, which doesn't need activation,
won't be concerned with it at all.
But we have to face facts. Office now has copy protection
we have no option but to live with it. However, just in case
my copy of Office XP dies and Microsoft refuses to re-activate
it, I'm keeping a full backup of the Office 2000 CD-ROM on my
hard disk, ready to install if the need arises. There are no
major changes to the file formats between 2000 and XP, so
anything which XP creates can be accessed from, and edited
within, Office 2000. If this kind of security appeals to you,
perhaps you should think hard before your company becomes too
dependent on unique OXP features like SmartTags.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
- Do It Live
- Tek Tips
- Dial a Tech
- Optimize Excel Worksheets
- Acrobat 5 Capture Plug-In
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
- Exchange 2000 SP1
- Netscape Fails to Import
- HyperTerm Re-Patched
- Index Server Problem
- FrontPage Server Extensions
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- Netscape 6.1 Preview
- NSA Advice on Win2k Security
- New Corel Bundle
- Mail Server for Linux
- PageMaker 7
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
- Wireless LANs
- Intel's Pentium 4
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
Here's a rather nifty tech support site which claims to be
dedicated to providing free online help to every computer
user on the Internet. Yes, free. Excellent!
Do It Live
Here's a great support site which, for US$75 a year, promises
round-the-clock access to people who will solve all your
PC problems as they arise. And the site is currently offering
a 33% discount if you sign up now. Certainly worth a look.
We liked this. A lot. If you are looking for technical
tips about PCs, programming, applications etc, you've a good
chance of finding the answer to your query here. Definitely
recommended. Registration is completely free, too.
Dial a Tech
This site offers a variety of paid tech support services at
all levels. So if you're looking for someone to advise on
keeping your PC healthy, or to solve problems as they arise,
check it out.
Here's a clever application which doesn't quite fit into
any existing software category. You could probably describe
it as an ideas processor rather than a word processor, as it
lets you create unstructured documents for use when planning
new ideas or projects. And when you're ready to bring some
structure to the document, it'll help you create a more
conventional outline. Well worth checking out. Shareware.
Optimize Excel Worksheets
If you or your users have some particularly complex Excel
worksheets that take ages to recalculate, here's a tool that
optimizes worksheets and speeds everything up. Well worth
Acrobat 5 Capture Plug-In
Adobe Acrobat 4 ships with a plug-in that converts scanned
page images into PDF format, by OCRing the text. In Acrobat
5, this plug-in has been removed. Instead, you have to upload
your pages to an Adobe web site. Not ideal if your documents
are confidential. Thankfully, Adobe appears to have seen
sense. You can now download the missing plug-in.
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
Exchange 2000 SP1
Service Pack 1 for Exchange 2000 is now available. In addition
to various bug fixes, it also includes an improved migration
wizard for moving users from other systems onto Exchange Server.
Netscape Fails to Import
BugNet is currently carrying a report about a particularly
irritating lack of functionality in Netscape 6. Although
the help text mentions that Netscape 6 can export its bookmarks
to the format used by Internet Explorer and older versions
of Netscape, the feature appears to be missing from the software.
So users who decide not to stick with NS6 can't move their
favourite Web addresses without recourse to a third party utility.
Microsoft has amended a patch for the Windows terminal emulator
which was originally released in October. The new patch updates
one unchecked buffer patch and also fixes yet another one.
Index Server Problem
Another Microsoft patch, and yet again it's an unchecked buffer
that has caused the problem. This time the bug is with Index
Server, part of the company's IIS Web Server. If you run IIS
it pays to keep a close eye on Microsoft's security web site,
as any unpatched bug could allow outsiders to access your files
or deface your Web site with ease.
FrontPage Server Extensions
Unchecked buffer. Hacker can run code of their choice.
Patch available. Blah blah blah. Need we say more?
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
Netscape 6.1 Preview
Version 6 of the Netscape Web browser was well received by
users and the press, at least in terms of the innovative
features it contained. However, comments have been widespread
about the number of bugs. The company now has a preview of
version 6.1 available for download, so you can see what the
next release will look like.
NSA Advice on Win2k Security
The US National Security Agency has released a set of
guidelines and templates on how to secure Windows 2000
system. The templates are designed to be used with the
Security Configuration Editor, which ships with Win2k.
Bearing in mind that the NSA spies on US and foreign
citizens, and that one of the ways it does this is by
messing with computers, you may not wish to trust the
templates. But surely just reading the guidelines
can't do any harm? Can it?
New Corel Bundle
Despite having launched CorelDRAW 10, Corel is not abandoning
its version 9 products. In August the company will launch
a bundle aimed at home users, consisting of CorelDRAW 9 and
PhotoPaint 9, for around US$130. This is substantially cheaper
than version 10. And Corel has also announced Bryce v5.0,
its tool for creating animations on the Windows and Mac.
If you're a budding Disney, this is for you.
Mail Server for Linux
Gordano, the company which makes a top-selling mail
server for Windows NT and 2000, now has a Linux product.
Prices start at around US$750 for a 50-user licence.
Adobe has announced version 7 of PageMaker, its premier
DTP application for creating books, magazines, brochures,
adverts etc. Versions are available for Windows and Mac.
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES FROM ITP
Networking without cables is finally a reality, with
technologies such as Bluetooth and Wireless Ethernet.
In the latest issue of PC Network Advisor, which is now
available, read all about the latest technologies and
find out whether wireless could be feasible for you.
Non-subscribers can read the complete article online for free.
Intel's Pentium 4
P4 machines are rapidly becoming the norm, taking over from
Pentium III boxes. But just how much of an improvement is the
P4 over the III? Are P4 boxes really worth paying a premium
for, or should you take advantage of some of the great PIII
offers that are now around? The latest issue of PC Support
Advisor, which has just been published, investigates.
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