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Vista Ultimate Extras unveiled
One of Microsoft’s stated benefits of buying the most expensive Ultimate edition of Windows Vista was that it would be able to run free “extras,” software applets that would be released later. But we were left to wonder what those extras might be. At CES last week, we got a glimpse of some Vista extras that are scheduled to be released in conjunction with Vista’s release to the general public at the end of this month. They range from a Hold ‘Em poker game to a secure online key backup program for BitLocker.

One of the most interesting was called DreamScene. It will let you set an .MPEG or .WMV video as your desktop wallpaper, just as you can choose a picture now. To use it, you’ll need an Aero-capable video card.

For more about these three Extras, click here.

More about Choosing Passwords
Last week, we talked about the difficulty of creating passwords that are both secure and memorable. In this article, Joe Wilcox reveals password weaknesses of many sites and programs, and points toward a link that features a primer on how to choose passwords and secure Adobe PDF files, much of which is applicable to password selection in general.

How to install the Windows Support Tools
You can use the free Windows Support Tools to troubleshoot and manage your network. The Support Tools aren’t installed by default in Windows XP, but they are included on the installation CD with XP Pro. Here’s how to install them:

  1. First remove any previous versions of the tools, including betas.
  2. With the installation CD in the CD-ROM drive, open Windows Explorer and navigate to the CD drive.
  3. Go to SupportTools and double click Setup.exe.
  4. Follow the steps in the wizard. You’ll be asked to agree to the EULA, provide your name/organization and choose the typical or complete installation. You can find descriptions of the individual tools and help on how to use them in the Suptools.chm file.

You can also install the tools from the command line, by typing the following at the command prompt: msiexec /I x:supporttoolssuptools.msi. For a complete installation, add the addlocal=all switch.

Dual booting 32 and 64 bit Windows.
Technically, there’s no problem with dual booting the 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows Vista (or Windows XP, for that matter) on a 64-bit capable system. You should install each OS in its own partition, though. A problem with many OEM systems is that the vendors ship them with one huge partition. There are several ways to solve that problem. Perhaps the easiest, if you have an extra drive bay, is to buy a second physical drive and install it. That will give you more space (and you’ll need plenty of space with two instances of Vista) and a clean new partition on which to install the second instance of the OS. Other alternatives include reformatting your existing drive and repartitioning it (this may be the best if the computer currently runs XP and you want to start over with a clean installation of Vista) or using a third party utility such as the latest version of Partition Magic to resize your existing partition and create a new one.

However, legally there’s another issue: the End User License Agreement for the retail versions of Vista, states in section 2 (a) and (c): “You may install one copy of the software on the licensed device” and “The software may include more than one version, such as 32-bit and 64-bit. You may use only one version at a time.”

Direct link to PDF here.

Although one could argue that you’ll only be using one of the versions “at a time,” I think Microsoft’s interpretation will be that you need to buy two licenses. And while we’re on the subject of Vista licensing, readers should also note that Vista Home editions (Basic and Premium) cannot legally be used as guest operating systems in virtualization programs such as Virtual PC or VMWare. You can install Business or Ultimate edition as a guest OS.

Can’t configure Scheduled Tasks to use the System Account
If you try to create a new task in the Scheduled Tasks folder and configure it to use the System account, you’ll find that the task doesn’t run as you expected. Instead, you’ll find an error message in the log file that tells you to very that the task’s Run-as name and password are valid. The problem is that the Scheduled Tasks Wizard isn’t able to configure a task to run with the System account. You can, however, use the AT.EXE command to do this. For more information, see KB article 223375.

User logon request is rejected without error message
If a restricted user with no password attempts to log onto Windows XP from the Welcome screen, and the logon request is rejected but you don’t get any kind of error message, it may be because the security log is full. There’s a hotfix available to fix the problem, but you have to call Product Support Services to get it. For more information, see KB article 313322.

Network Magic makes getting connected easier
At first glance, you might wonder why you’d need a third party product to set up your home network, since that’s all built into Windows. But if you have a network that’s a little complex or out of the ordinary, you may have endured hours of frustration, trying to get networking to work for you. In that case, a program that eases your way might be just the ticket. It can get especially tricky if you’re trying to connect computers running different versions of Windows. Network Magic can also provide some of the networking features that are in Windows Vista, like the Network Map, even if your network is running just XP computers. Check it out here.

You can also get a free scan of your network that will perform various security and performance tests and detect the devices connected to your network (you’ll have to download an ActiveX control) here.

Deb Shinder, Microsoft MVP