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XP SP3 Confirmed
It appears that Microsoft has confirmed that there will be another service pack for Windows XP and that it’s scheduled to be released during the first half of 2008. Nobody’s talking about what it will include. Read more here.

Problems with Vista activation system
We all knew and accepted that we might have to reactivate Vista if we installed certain types of new hardware. But nobody expected that just installing driver software could trigger the reactivation requirement. Well, it seems several people are experiencing this, including my friend Ed Bott.

Give your input: What should the next version of Windows look like?
Vista is still new so who in his/her right mind is thinking about the next version of Windows already? Microsoft programmers, that’s who. Code named Vienna, Vista’s successor is still in the very earliest stages of development, but at least one blogger is soliciting comments and suggestions for features for the next Windows.

What I love about the new Windows Explorer
In the throes of my nVidia-induced problems with my primary computer last week, I ended up doing a lot of my work on the bedroom computer, which runs XP. Going back to XP after working with Vista as my primary OS for well over a year (first in beta), there were a lot of features I missed, including the Sidebar (whose gadgets I consult often) and the Search feature on the Start menu. But I think the thing I actually missed most was the new Windows Explorer layout and interface.

In particular, I absolutely hated not being able to just click Recent Places to get back to a folder I’d had open earlier. Whoever came up with that idea was a genius; I’ve found it to be extremely useful. Another great aspect of Vista’s Explorer that I missed was the ability to click on any level in the path to go there, and I felt as if I were operating blind as I navigated through document files without the preview feature that lets me see the contents of a Word doc without opening it.

The XP computer also runs Office 2003. To find out what I missed about Office 2007, see the July 29 entry in my tech blog, titled What I Missed About Office 2007 When I Went Back to Office 2003.

How to use encryption for Outlook 2007 email
Most people think of email as an unsecure medium, but it doesn’t have to be. You can use encryption to protect the contents of mail, or digital signatures to authenticate the identity of email senders. Most modern mail clients support using Secure MIME (S/MIME) for this, but it’s not always obvious how to do it. Here’s how in Outlook 2007:

  1. First, you need to get a digital certificate. You can get one free for non- commercial use from Comodo (
  2. Compose your message, then click the Office logo button and select Properties.
  3. Click the Security tab, and click to encrypt the contents and/or add a digital signature to the message.

You can also use S/MIME email with a Windows Mobile device. Read more about that here.

All about Rootkits
You’ve probably heard about rootkits, and you know they’re bad – some sort of malware, “like a virus or something,” as one writer put it. Originally, the word referred to something used on UNIX based systems to hack the “root” account, which is like the administrator account on Windows. Now there are rootkits for Windows too. Here’s a useful overview of what they are, how they work and how they can be detected.

Can I change the default image editor in XP’s Picture and Fax Viewer?
I was hoping that your article on: (How to change file associations in XP) would show me how to correct a problem I am experiencing. The icon at the bottom of the Windows and Fax viewer for closing that program and opening the image for editing now takes me to Microsoft Paint while I prefer to have it open the image to one of my other editing programs. I realize that I can do this by right clicking the icon and selecting the program but would prefer to have it automatically take me the the program I select as it once did. Any help would be appreciated. – Bob R.

ANSWER: First, I have to say that one of the things I really like about Vista is the new Photo Gallery, which replaces the “picture” part of Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (the “fax” part is replaced by Vista’s Fax and Scan application). Photo Gallery is the picture previewer in Vista, and one of the things I love about it is that you can edit pictures right inside it, instead of opening some other program to do it.

That said, it is indeed possible to change the default image editing program in XP’s Picture and Fax Viewer, but you’ll need to either edit the registry or use a utility called Imgeditor which can be downloaded here (ZIP file):

To edit the registry, first back it up, then do the following:

  1. Open your favorite registry editor and navigate to this key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT SystemFileAssociations image shell edit command
  2. Doubleclick the entry in the right pane.
  3. In the data value field, type the path to the program you want to use (for example: “c:Program FilesIrfanViewi_view32.exe” “%1”

You can change the editor for a particular file type this way:

  1. Click Start | Run
  3. Click the File Types tab.
  4. Select the file type from the list and click the Advanced button.
  5. Click New.
  6. In the Action box, type Edit
  7. In the Application Used To Perform Action box, type the full path to the application you want to use to edit pictures.
  8. Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes. This sets the default image editor for the selected file type.

Mapped drives don’t appear to connect or disconnect in Windows Explorer
If you find that mapped network drives aren’t visible in XP, or a mapped network drive stays visible after you’ve disconnected from it, this could be because of a system policy. This issue is fixed by the latest service pack (if you have the same problem in Windows 2000 or Server 2003, you can get a hotfix for it). For more info, see KB article 812933.

No search results over a WAN link with your XP computer
You may not come up with any search results when you try to do the search over a wide area network (WAN) connection. Even though you know the files exist, you still get an error message that says “Search is complete. There are no results to display.” Luckily, there’s a workaround. Read the instructions in KB article 925885.

Vista computer stops responding if USB camera is connected
Does your Vista computer hang up when you connect your USB camera? This only happens with certain cameras, and it’s because of the driver the camera uses. There’s a hotfix available to fix the problem; you’ll need to contact Microsoft Customer Support Services to get it. To find out how, see KB article 939331.

Until next week,

Deb Shinder