Page Two

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-04-08 Print this article Print

But theres still work to do. I hooked the system up to the Internet and ran Windows Update. There were 2 Critical Updates available ("Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1" and "Security Update Microsoft Virtual Machine") totaling 7.9MB.

But there were also 43 other updates. The largest of these, the 23.1 MB .NET Framework 1.1, is probably useless to most Windows 98SE users, but why didnt they include it on the CD? It must have come out since the CD. Thirty-four of the 43 were updates to foreign language features, (e.g., "Italian Menus and Dialogs for Internet Explorer 6 SP1" and "Korean Input Method Editor"), so nobody has a need to install all of them.

The eight non-foreign language features besides the .NET Framework add up to a total of 1,745KB, and some of them are clearly unimportant. But add the 7.9MB of critical updates to the 1,745KB of non-criticals and you get 9,645KB, which Ill round up to 10MB. Downloading that over a phone line at an average of 25,000 bits per second, 10 bits per byte (1 start, 1 stop, 8 data), plus about 10 percent overhead, works out to maybe 75 minutes. That seems very reasonable to me for two months worth of stuff, and in fact its more than two months. The .NET Framework adds maybe 3 hours or more, so skip it if you want.

But wait, theres more! Microsoft has included in the same envelope with the Update CD a copy of Computer Associates eTrust EZ Armor LE, a trial copy of their antivirus/firewall package. I havent looked at these CA packages in years, and I wont have the time to look at them in-depth right now. The disk comes with a 15-day free trial, or you can buy the package outright.

Some day soon I ought to try the same thing with Windows XP that I did with Windows 98SE. Its possible that XP has more and larger patches, but I bet the difference isnt all that big.

Microsoft had the space on this CD to stuff some more non-critical updates, although I can see the argument for not doing so. They need to keep room for future critical updates, for one thing. But I dont want to spend much time complaining about the relatively small problems with this CD. This is a great idea and a good thing, and my main complaint is that they didnt get it to me soon enough. They need to be sending this CD out to everyone, in phone books, with the morning newspaper, and in cereal boxes and Happy Meals. The more people who get this CD, the better off we all are.

So why isnt Microsoft publicizing this more? Why, when I go to Windows Update, am I not seeing a prominent ad for this CD and how to get it? Why arent there ISO images so I can download it instead of having to wait several weeks after ordering it online? Its a great thing, but Microsoft could have done better, even for a first attempt.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at for security news, views and analysis.
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Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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