Windows XP has a problem writing to Windows 2000 and NT servers under certain conditions, according to two developers of mission-critical applications. The problem has led to maddening errors, and these companies are challenging Microsoft to solve it.
The clash is a bit like two ants taking on an elephant. However, the ants in this case have the weight of evidence on their side. The company that has taken the lead in this dispute is Tangent Systems. Tangent produces DocuTran II, an imaging and data capture application used mainly by financial institutions for check processing, payment handling and other tasks where accurate scanning is an absolute requirement. A large Tangent customer typically has hundreds of employees using PCs to write document images to fixed-disk storage on several servers.
The back end can be Windows 2000 Server, Windows NT Server or NetWare.
A few months ago, some DocuTran users began complaining that their workstations were showing error messages and their servers were losing data. To make a long story short, Tangents software development manager, Dave Berkowitz, found after extensive testing that delayed writes from Windows XP clients to the server disks were intermittently causing data loss.
The data loss was observed only when Windows XP clients were writing to Windows 2000 or NT servers using SMB signing. (Server Message Block signing digitally signs data packets on a network.) The problem never occurred when the server was NetWare, whatever the client, or when the client was Windows 2000 Professional, whatever the server.
Tangent decided to go public with its findings after what it believed was a lack of responsiveness from Microsoft. The Tangent developers who conducted the testing posted a report and a free utility, Dlaytest.exe, so that any enterprise can test its own hardware and software configuration for the problem. (To download the utility, go to www.bri.li/3501).