Tips for tracking silent updates

Are you doing your maintenance?

How long has it been since you freshened your files? Those users who have standardized on Microsoft Office may need one or more of the "silent updates" that Microsoft Corp. puts on its support network of World Wide Web and file transfer protocol (ftp) sites and its file download service.

An information management staff person recently asked me why one could not insert a Word Version 6 table into a PowerPoint Version 4 slide. After thinking about a less-than-optimal installation on those systems the answer became obvious: It was an Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) problem.I visited the Microsoft Web site and found an update to the OLE system on 16-bit Windows systems that fixed the problem.

In addition to the OLE 2 update Microsoft also released a Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol 32 update for Windows for Workgroups to completely refresh all components of TCP/IP. There is also a new version of the Win 32 subsystem (Version 1.30c). Many Web browsers require Win32s later than version 1.15 or 1.2. These are available from the Microsoft ftp site (ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/softlib/mslfiles/[filename]) or www.microsoft.com/kb/softlib.

The OLE 2 update is WW1116.exe the Win32 Version 1.30c is PW1118.exe and the TCP/IP32 files are TCP32B.exe. These also can be obtained from Microsoft Download a bulletin board service that can be reached at (206) 936-6735.

Update Sources

Keeping a complex networked environment maintained isn't much easier. There are always system updates and maintenance releases that should have been built in or were implemented poorly. Since the advent of the Web getting access to support is much easier for those common problems but that is not a panacea. The Web is a lower-cost method of allowing entry into the support department by many more users the trick is to get a decent high-speed connection to Microsoft's site during the middle of the day.There are some ftp mirror sites in Europe that can be accessed much quicker for those multimegabyte downloads of patches and updates. Because of the time differences they are outside of the peak load periods and access is generally quicker.

I have noticed a trend with Microsoft regarding the notification of updates. I will use Windows 95 to illustrate. After the operating system's release last year Microsoft posted some security bug fixes on its site as soon as users reported them but didn't broadcast availability for a while. In another case Microsoft announced that Service Pack 1 was out and available but who knew about the many updates posted after the Service Pack was released?

Mail Lists

Microsoft posts updates but in many cases does not announce them. The availability of mail lists however is much better. To subscribe to "WinNews " just send a message with the first line "SUBSCRIBEWINNEWS" to Admin@WinNews.microsoft.com. Leave the subject line blank.

For those interested in Windows NT try e-mailing "SUBSCRIBE WINNTNEWS" to WinNTNEWS-Admin@microsoft.bhs.com. Again leave the subject line blank. For BackOffice fans send "SUBSCRIBE BACKOFFICENEWS" to BackOfficeNews-Admin@microsoft.bhs.com. Leave the subject line blank.

Dodge is an Army project officer with the Training and Doctrine Command System Manager for the Combined Arms Tactical Trainer Fort Leavenworth Kan.

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