Windows .NET Notes

Windows Notes: XP, 2K, Vista and NT4

Copyright 2010 by Stephen Vermeulen
Last updated: 2010 Jul 29
XML Notes

accounts address always april basic boxes bunch buying causing cid clicking cnet comparing convert copying cpus developing except extends fact fat32 fields firewall host jsp keeps logging message nettop networking ntfs offers possibly post priced prompt purchase purpose rapid ready regular selling specific stay strange success tab taken tell tree trial tried usual voidspace wait wonder wrapper

Windows 7 Notes

  • 2010-Jul-29: Creating your own Windows 7 boot media for CD/DVDs or USB Flash Drives (UFD) using the Windows Automated Installer Kit (WAIK). [9339]
  • 2010-Jun-25: How to move your old Windows XP installation into Windows 7 with the help of VMware. [9246]
  • 2010-May-05: Don't depend on system restore points, Windows 7 can sometimes delete them all on a reboot. [9100]
  • 2009-Nov-12: Windows 7 may not be good for battery life, some tests with the commercial version are showing it drains a laptop's battery in 16% less time than Windows XP. [8741]
  • 2009-Nov-04: Better ways of doing a clean install of Windows 7 using upgrade media. More on this here. Of course the best way is probably to buy a Windows 7 OEM version instead of the upgrade version. [8700]
  • 2009-Nov-03: Comparing the 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows 7, perhaps it is time to move to the 64 bit world? [8695]
  • 2009-Oct-31: A 90 day trial version of Windows 7 Enterprise is available here until Mar'10. [8686]
  • 2009-Oct-23: A good feature summary chart that compares Starter, Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. In short there is very little need for Ultimate (except if you need to work with multiple languages) and you need Professional if you need to join a Domain or want more than 16GB of memory or a dual CPU system or the Windows XP mode. [8664]
  • 2009-Sep-04: Windows 7 does some things that Vista doesn't. [8464]
  • 2009-Sep-04: Microsoft is offering a free 90-day trial version of Windows 7 RTM. [8455]
  • 2009-Aug-24: It has been reported that Windows 7 will sell in the UK for half the US price. European trade laws will probably force this onto the rest of Europe. I wonder how long the American public will tolerate being gouged. Perhaps European countries will have to collect heavy import tariffs to prevent Microsoft from "dumping" into their markets. [8413]
  • 2009-Aug-14: Windows 7 adds support for booting from virtual hard drives (hard disk images stored in VHD files). Some articles on this are: [8393]
  • 2009-Aug-04: To add to the confusion about Windows 7 pricing Microsoft has decided to offer a number of upgrade options, including a special family 3-pack offer. Some more licensing options are discussed here including student editions and special subscriptions like the Action Pack and BizSpark program (intended to get small businesses hooked on Office). [8357]
  • 2009-May-29: How Windows 7 behaves with respect to hard disk and SSD performance. [8054]
  • 2009-May-25: Microsoft has revised its list of limitations for computer vendors to qualify for the Windows 7 Starter edition low-cost license. The key points seem to be that the screen sized cannot exceed 10.2 inches and the processors can only be single core, up to 2GHz and not use more than 15W. [8025]
  • 2009-May-08: Not all of Intel's modern CPUs have support for VT virtualization mode, though it appears that most of AMD's CPUs do. This could be of particular annoyance to users of Windows 7 that want to use the XP mode. Discussed here on Slashdot. [7951] [1]
  • 2009-May-06: A good guide to installing Windows 7 beta in Virtual PC 2007. And here is how to install it on SUN's VirtualBox. [7947]
  • 2009-May-04: Windows 7 (in the more expensive editions) is to include an XP mode which will run in a virtual machine and will include a fully licensed copy of XP Pro to support this. More information on this here. The Register has taken a look at the virtual XP mode, this gets discussed here on Slashdot. [7909]
  • 2009-May-02: The next wave of netbooks might be powered by ARM processors as this would allow their power consumption to be greatly reduced, but this would also force manufacturers to stick with Linux as the operating system. There are some hints that Microsoft (in a strange echo of Windows NT's distant past when it could also run on the DEC Alpha and PowerPC chips) might make a version of Windows 7 that would run on ARM to address this. I find it more plausible that Microsoft would just try to push Windows CE into that role instead. [7932]
  • 2009-May-01: Engadget takes a look at Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 which is to become widely available on May 5th. This version is to expire in June 2010 so people will have a year to get used to it. [7925]
  • 2009-Apr-07: It is starting to look like not even Windows 7 will kill off XP, Microsoft may be going to offer an XP downgrade from Windows 7. [7837]
  • 2009-Apr-02: Possibly before Windows 7 ships Microsoft is going to ship Windows Foundation Server, a light version of Windows Server 2008. This got launched on April Fool's day 2009. Here's Microsoft's page on it. [7677]
  • 2008-Nov-12: A look at the performance of the first beta of Windows 7 shows little to no change over Windows Vista and also shows that it appears to be a relatively minor tweaking of Vista. [7197]
  • 2008-Jun-25: Windows 7 is expected to ship Jan 2010. [6433]
  • 2008-Apr-08: According to Bill Gates, Windows 7 should arrive next year (2009). Of course that will probably turn out to be the first beta, but this will probably convince a lot of people to stay out of the Windows Vista murky waters. But Microsoft says that Windows 7 is still slated for 2010. [5606]

Windows Vista Notes

  • 2009-Nov-06: NewSID can be used to change the SID (computer security identifier) of a cloned system, this has a similar effect to running sysprep. Apparently this is no longer needed, or perhaps never was needed, so it is being retired. [8347]
  • 2009-Aug-26: The 4GB limit to memory on 32bit Windows Vista (and XP and 2000) may really be a licensing issue. [8424]
  • 2009-Jul-16: The takeown command for taking ownership of files. This was in the Windows 2000 Resource Kit and now its in the standard Vista installation. [8283]
  • 2009-Apr-30: There is a 2TB drive limit in Windows Vista, turns out you cannot install Vista to a partition that is larger than 2TB. [7918]
  • 2009-Jan-16: Microsoft is looking to CPU virtualization to allow old applications to run under Vista. [7444]
  • 2008-Oct-25: Windows Vista upgrade installations may start their work by installing an image of Vista and then proceed to selectively tailoring it to your system's needs. [7093]
  • 2008-Jul-17: Buying Vista but downgrading to XP is discussed here on Slashdot. A short summary of how to do this is given here, you install XP as usual fro an XP CDROM using an existing XP key, then when you get to the activation part you must call Microsoft over the phone and tell them you are doing a downgrade of Vista to XP and at this point you give them the Vista key. [6538]
  • 2008-Jul-16: If you have a spare Windows Server 2008 license you could turn it into a Workstation 2008 to get an alternative to Vista. [6526]
  • 2008-May-14: This article discusses the purpose of the svchost.exe processes (which you can often see lurking on your system in the task manager). An important aspect of these is that they are the host process for one or more Windows services and you can see which services each hosts by using the command line tasklist/svc program or by right clicking on one of the svchost.exe instances in the task manager and then selecting Goto service(s) from the popup menu. A writeup of all the various services is available here. [6158]
  • 2008-Jan-28: A tool called vLite is becoming popular, this can be used to strip down Windows Vista to less bloated dimensions. It is discussed here on Slashdot. [5001]
  • 2007-Dec-16: After using Vista at work for some time I've got to agree with this humorous article that praises Microsoft for their rapid delivery of the new OS upgrade to Vista called Windows XP. [4435]
  • 2007-Oct-24: If your Vista suddenly deactivates itself, perhaps you recently changed video cards or updated a device driver? [3506]
  • 2007-Sep-29: Windows Vista now collects a lot more data on the people using it [2312]
  • 2007-Sep-29: The Multi-Monitor Manager may cause your auxilary display to shutdown and restart from time to time, when this happens the windows that were showing on it may flee for the safety of some other display. [2313]

Windows XP Notes

  • 2010-Jul-16: Windows XP is not going away any time soon, apparently 74% of work PCs still use it. [9306]
  • 2010-Jun-25: The cipher command is the DOS tool for working with encrypted NTFS files and directories. [9247]
  • 2010-Feb-10: Various tips for using NTFS on USB Flash drives. How to format a flash drive with NTFS. [8963]
  • 2009-Sep-21: Microsoft is now (Sept'09) refusing to fix some bugs in the Windows XP TCP/IP code that it has fixed in Vista and Server 2003. So best to keep that XP box behind a hardware firewall device. [8540]
  • 2009-Jul-26: If your Windows search (the one with the little dog in it) gets usurped by the "new and improved with authentic Vista flavor" search system, then here is the registry key to get it back. Its pretty simple, just change the registry key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Desktop Search\DS
    from one ("1") to zero ("0"). [8329]
  • 2009-Jul-02: Windows XP still lives on, its been "dead" for a year now but probably is still the most preferred operating system. [8212]
  • 2009-Jun-19: Microsoft extends the end of XP's life, yet again. This time until May 2009. And in June'09 they extended the downgrade to XP option out to about 2011. [7384]
  • 2009-Feb-11: Using the sysprep tool to prepare a reference Windows XP installation for clone style deployment. [7558]
  • 2009-Jan-28: How to disable the autorun feature. [7496]
  • 2008-Aug-27: Windows XP SP3 has caused some grief for AMD based computers, often resulting in failure to boot after being installed. [6753]
  • 2008-Jun-25: Will Microsoft wake up smarter and extend the retail lifetime of Windows XP beyond 30-June-2008? Dell has announced they will provide copies of XP Pro past the cut off date, this is being done under the Windows Vista for Business downgrade license program, so you need to buy a Dell machine with a Vista for Business license and they will supply an install image CD for XP Pro (in case you want to downgrade to XP) or on some models Dell will even pre-install the downgrade at the factory. Microsoft says that XP will still stop selling in June. There are some on-line petitions to save XP and there has been an attempt to demonstrate that people still want XP by calling in to Microsoft's support lines en-masse. More on Dell's XP Pro downgrade offering, looks like it will only be available on a few of their machines, and it may cost you $50. Microsoft said in late June that there would be no reprieve for XP, but that local OEMs may still continue to buy XP through to 31-Jan-2009, they also say that support for XP will last until 2014. This article claims that Microsoft's software license allows customers who purchase a copy of Windows to install and run a previous version of the OS at no additional cost, I wonder what really happens when you enter a Vista license key into an XP install... [5958]
  • 2008-Jun-07: Slashdot discusses reports of Windows XP SP3 causing routers to crash. This may be caused by the UPnP feature, so try disabling that on the router before you get SP3. [6304]
  • 2008-Jun-03: Microsoft has become more official about their new program to extend the life of XP for low-power machines (and prevent Linux from owning that marketplace). [6272]
  • 2008-May-12: Windows XP Service Pack 3 has been released and there are reports of it causing problems for some users. More information on these issues can be found here. [6089]
  • 2008-May-10: Microsoft is starting to wake up to the threat that Linux poses in the new developing low cost PC and laptop market. They are now looking at a program (discussed here on Slashdot) that would sell XP Home licenses at $26 (emerging markets) or $32 (for developed markets) a copy. With the caveat that the machines it is sold for cannot have more than a 10-inch display, 1GB RAM, 80GB disk and 1GHz processor (though there will be some exceptions on the processor speed). Also these machines cannot have a touch screen - they can't seriously think that the vastly over priced UMPC and Tablet PC concepts are still viable, can they? One question about this is: will these limits be enforced after the machine is sold, or can the user toss the 80GB drive and install something larger, or go into the BIOS and set the processor to a fake overclock speed? [6132] [1]
  • 2008-Apr-18: nLite is a slipstreaming tool for Windows XP. This is very useful for producing a customized version of your Windows XP installation disk so that it contains the XP service pack and machine specific drivers of your choice. You can also use it to preload the fields in some of the installation dialogs with settings appropriate to your needs. [5847] [1]
  • 2008-Apr-16: Windows XP SP3 (service pack 3) is due to be released starting April 21/2008 (for special customers) and April 29 for the rest. [5822]
  • 2008-Apr-15: It appears that Microsoft will actually be making a special build of Windows XP for the ASUS Eee laptop. [5811] [1]
  • 2008-Apr-06: Slashdot discusses the end of life date for Windows XP, it's still June 30, 2008. The question is, since Microsoft will allow "system builders, the small shops that assemble machines for customers" to put XP on the PCs they sell until 31-Jan-2009 will you be able to pick up a copy of the OEM XP Pro at your local computer store (who builds machines) until then? [5609]
  • 2008-Apr-03: Microsoft is now going to keep supplying Windows XP (sounds like the Home version) until at least 2010 for devices like the ASUS Eee. [5540] [1]
  • 2008-Mar-25: The timeline for the remainder of Windows XP's life. [5328]
  • 2008-Feb-12: Project Dakota, discussed here on Slashdot, is an attempt to put all the post service pack 2 fixes for Windows XP onto a single bootable CD. [5081]
  • 2008-Jan-29: The Windows XP retail cut off date is currently 30-June-2008, beyond that point in time the only way a consumer can get a new license would be to buy a new PC with Vista from a major vendor (probably Dell) who offers a downgrade option. [5010]
  • 2007-Dec-19: Service pack 3 for Windows XP is expected in mid-2008, though a release candidate has already been made available. [4469]
  • 2007-Dec-02: If, when attempting to access a shared drive, you get an error message with the text "Not enough server storage is available to process this command", then you make have a case of KB177078. When this happened to me I was able to get to one administrative share but not another for drives I had just added. [4383]
  • 2007-Oct-18: Here is a fix for the windows update dialog that appears and insists you reboot (with no option to cancel, just to wait another few minutes). [3465]
  • Problems using VNC with WindowsXP fast user switching. [5894]
  • How to get Windows XP File Search to Really Work (again). The search function of Windows XP (from the start menu "Search") is by default not set to search the contents of most files. In order to turn this on you can follow the steps in method #2 on this page. A similar writeup exists in Microsoft's KB309173.

    If you have ever used the "search for text in files" function and it has failed to find what you were looking for, but you know that the search should have worked it is probably because the behavior of the searching changed greatly between Windows 2000 and Windows XP. By default Windows 2000 would search in all files, but Windows XP will only search in certain "known" file types (probably .txt. and .doc and not much else). The fix for this is quite simple, though remarkably hard to find. Here's what to do:

    1. open the control panel
    2. then go to administrative tools and open the "Computer Management" application, set the display to show both the tree view (on the left) and details list on the right, (the 4th icon from the left on the tool bar) and the do the following steps in the tree view
    3. under "Computer Management (Local)" you will find "Services and Applications", and then "Indexing Service"
    4. do a right click on "Indexing Service" and select "Properties" from the popup menu
    5. the "Indexing Service Properties" window will appear, this has two tabs, in the tab called "Generation" you will find a check box labeled "Index files with unknown extensions", you need to check this and then click the OK button and that is it
    note that despite the fact this setting is controlled through the Indexing Service, you do not need to start the Indexing Service running for this to work. [2310]
  • It is possible for Windows XP to get into a state where you cannot logout (log off), shut down or reboot the computer from the start menu (or by pressing ctrl+alt+del), there is a way to "force" the action that you can try is this happens to you (rather than just hitting the reset or power button). Get to the log off prompt and then hold down a CTRL key while clicking on the "OK" button. This should force the logout to take place, and then, from the login screen you can do a shut down. The same trick also works for doing a forced shutdown or reboot, but in the case I tried I was able to do the forced logout and then was able to do a normal shut down, which seems a bit safer that just doing a forced shutdown. [2309]
  • There is a way to download all the windows updates and prepare them on CD or DVDs for installation [2308]
  • The JavaService Wrapper project's documentation states that during machine shutdown the Windows Service Manager ignores the service dependency tree and tells all services to shut down at the same time (not in the reverse of the order that they were started). [2307]
  • Windows Services can be made to be dependent on other services being started first. Modifying these dependencies are discussed in KB193888, the TechNet article: Understanding Windows Services Architecture goes into this in more depth, it also states that the dependencies are used during the stopping of services too. If you are installing a custom service that needs internet connectivity and also access to files on network drive shares then this article on installing Apache as a Windows Service, may help. It identifies the following other services that your service should be dependent on:
    1. Tcpip
    2. Afd
    3. lanmanworkstation
    4. Rpcss
  • Windows Dynamic disks (described in this article: KB222189 - note this article does describe an "import" function that is provided to allow you to move a dynamic disk from one system to another) cannot be moved from one system to another readily. This knowledge base article: KB232463, mentions this in the context of laptops, but I have run into this while trying to move dynamic-type disks from an older Win2K machine to its replacement WinXP box (when I did this the disk was shown as "foreign"). Probably best to stick with the basic disk type, unless you are really needing to make use of the new features of dynamic disks (for example to provide a RAID file system). It also appears that you cannot put a dynamic disk into a USB drive case and still access its contents (the article KB254105 confirms this is the case) - probably for similar reasons relating to the disk partition database, as once the disk is USB attached it could be attached to any number of machines and this database is not designed to handle this. Other articles on dynamic disks:
    • How to convert basic and dynamic disks in Windows XP Professional: KB309044.
    • How to establish a striped volume with parity (RAID-5) in Windows Server 2003: KB323434.
    • Best practices for using dynamic disks on Windows Server 2003-based computers: KB816307.
    • Basic storage versus dynamic storage in Windows XP: KB314343. This says that the mirroring and RAID-5 features are not available in Windows XP Pro.
    • How to use disk management to configure dynamic disks in Windows XP: KB308424.
  • Slashdot discusses how to fix a pirated copy of XP by installing a new license. [2304]
  • How to safely add or replace a hard drive, has a good introduction to IDE cables and jumpers and also mentions the trick of using Device Manager to uninstall the current entries under Disk Drives prior to imaging the system partition on the current old drive that is to be reimaged to a new replacement drive. It also talks a bit about the Windows Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. [2303]
  • How to rebuild / reinstall / refresh Windows XP without loosing user data and installed applications. [2302]
  • The Windows NTFS supports the concept of alternate data streams within a single file. By default one always sees the primary (or "unnamed") stream, but if one opens the file in a special way one will be able to read or write a particular alternate stream. In July'06 the first rootkits which use these alternate data streams to hide were detected. [2301]
  • How to make XP appear more like Vista [2300]
  • Some Windows networking related tweaks can be found here, including preventing the loading of system policies when logging on to the network. [2299]
  • Also see this for what to do if Windows Update keeps downloading the same patch again and again. [2298]
  • How to uninstall a hotfix or a service pack (perhaps that Windows Update has installed) that is causing the computer not to boot. Use the recovery console (boot from the Windows installation CD to get this) and do a DIR $* to see the various hot fix uninstall directories. Then, for those that were created on the suspect date, CD into each in turn and execute the uninstall batch file with the command: BATCH spuninst.txt. After doing one of these you should reboot (by using the EXIT command) to see if it fixed the problem, and if not, proceed with the next patch. On 13-Oct-06 a set of Windows updates messed up one of my Windows XP Pro boxes (KB922819, KB923191, KB923414, KB924191, KB924496 to be precise). I used this approach to remove them, but the same problem remained. On the following day while I was copying files off the afflicted machine to prepare to rebuild/repair it, Windows Update redownloaded the updates I had removed. I let it reinstall them and found that this time the updates worked properly. So I suspect that something went wrong in the first update that the second attempt corrected. [2297]
  • When rebuilding an XP box that had developed a corrupted network stack I was able to do a back and restore to another hard disk using Acronis' TrueImage drive imaging software. Then, I was able to safely experiment with the copy until I had figured out what I needed to do. As part of the final step of rebuilding this machine I used the Linux Knoppix distribution to:
    1. create a FAT32 partition on the spare space on the test disk (Windows XP Home will only let you create NTFS partitions)
    2. copy a bunch of files off the original NTFS boot disk (which was reinstalled in the computer as a second drive) onto the FAT32 partition. I did this because under XP an administrator of the newly installed operating system cannot get access to all the files from the original drive (which is certainly not the case with Windows NT, but may also be true for Windows 2000). Once you are in Linux you appear to have access to all files again. [2296]
    3. It seems to be relatively easy to install games on an XP Pro box under the administrator account, and I seem to be having pretty good success at getting them to run. However, they will often not work under other accounts on the same machine. Part of the trick at getting them to run seems to be to give the other accounts "Power User" group rights. However my old NT 4.0 Domain server does not have the "Power users" group, so it looked for a while like I would have to create local machine accounts with membership in this group. A bit of web searching turned up this page that suggested there was a way to make the NT4 domain user group appear to be called the power user group and this would have the same permissions. The trick was to go to the workstation where the power user group is needed (actually it sounds like this will apply to all machines) and execute this command:
      net localgroup "power users" /add "DOMAIN\Domain Users"
      once I did this it became possible to install software as a regular user and a lot of the programs that refused to run under other accounts will now work. [2295]

Windows 2000 Notes

  • 2009-Feb-11: Using the sysprep tool to prepare a reference Windows 2000 installation for clone style deployment. [7559]

Windows NT 4.0 Notes

      back to home