XP: Auto Logon

May 17, 2010

You can configure Windows XP to automate the logon process IF your computer is NOT part of a domain.

  1. Start > Run > type control userpasswords2
  2. Clear the Users must enter a username and password to use this computer check box. 
  3. Click Apply. 
  4. Enter the user name and password you wish to automatically log on with, and then click OK. 
  5. Click OK again and you’re all done.

 This feature allows other users to start your computer and use the account that you establish to automatically log on. Enabling auto logon makes your computer more convenient to use, but can pose a security risk.

Source …


Product Review: Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 with Zinstall

February 24, 2010

If you are looking for in-place migration of Windows XP desktops, you could use Laplink’s PC Mover. But if you want to preserve your Windows XP desktop and switch back to it when you need to run an application that doesn’t work on Windows 7, then you should consider Zinstall’s XP7. It creates an XP virtual machine (VM) with all of your old applications and files just a mouse click away. “Consider” is the operative word, however. The product idea is sound; the implementation is lacking.

That description of Zinstall XP7 sounds a bit like what Microsoft supports with its XP mode for Windows 7, but not quite. The problem, as you can see from this Web page on Microsoft’s site, is that XP mode is only supported with limited “V-chip” CPUs. You also need to reinstall an entire XP desktop on the virtual machine from scratch.

Zinstall works by using the “windows-old” directory that the Windows 7 installer creates to rebuild your original Windows XP desktop. It is a neat trick, and I really wanted it to work. But no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t get a stable VM from the product, and so I can’t recommend Zinstall until they do some additional quality control.

If you want to experiment, make sure you use a drive imaging tool (I use Acronis or Symantec’s Ghost) to create a backup copy of your Windows XP desktop first. Next, disable your firewalls and uninstall any anti-virus software. Now you install Windows 7, making sure to boot from the install CD and choose the custom in-place install option, where it copies the Windows OS and all your applications to that “windows-old” directory.

Once that is done, you can start up Windows 7 and install the Zinstall software. Zinstall actually supports two different migration scenarios. Besides the in-place one, the other scenario lets you migrate between two computers. Choose the “only have this PC” to indicate that you are doing an in-place migration; then hit the big GO button as you can see in the screen shot below.

Zinstall will migrate your XP desktop and still keep the old XP running as a virtual machine under Windows 7.

The process takes several minutes to an hour to complete, depending on the size of your hard drive. Speaking of which: Make sure that you have plenty of extra room to install Windows 7 as well as the working copies of Zinstall’s files. I would estimate a spare 30-40 GB should be enough. You can filter out particular files – like videos and mp3s — that you don’t want to migrate if you are tight on space.

Once this process is done, you can switch back and forth between Windows XP and Windows 7 by clicking on an icon on the taskbar. Booting up your Windows XP desktop initially takes some time; after all, you are loading a new VM here. But once that is done, switching between the OSs takes a second or two. If you have used VMware or something similar this will be very obvious. You leave your existing Windows XP desktop unchanged, with its existing apps (that may not run under Windows 7). Everything on your old Windows XP system is preserved, including files and applications. These aren’t migrated to Windows 7; you have to install new apps now just as you would for any new OS install. This differs from PC Mover, where you give up your older Windows XP system and migrate it completely over to the new operating system. You can even view and access the files on the other OS too, again by clicking on the taskbar icon.

Or so they promise. Too bad this wasn’t quite my experience.

I began this review trying to migrate the oldest PC that I had in my office, an old Windows XP system [2.80 GHz Pentium with 2 GB of RAM without any service packs. I couldn’t get the migration to complete without errors. I wasn’t sure if it was because of my three drive partitions, an unused video driver for a card that I no longer had in the PC, or some other gremlin. Next I set up my Dell Dimension desktop with a virgin copy of Windows XP with SP2, and got a fresh version of Windows 7 installed on top of it. The Zinstall setup worked just fine until I tried to reboot the PC, and then I somehow trashed the master boot record. All my efforts for the day were lost. After I jiggled my BIOS battery, I was able to get a working drive again and I could start taking complete breaths. Two serious attempts to make it work; two failures. What if the user was a not-quite-so-journeyman IT support person?

I really wanted this software to work, because it is such an elegant solution that no one else can deliver on. If it worked, it would be the perfect way to move slowly into the modern era of Windows 7. But alas, I can’t recommend the product.

Source …


February 13, 2010

Whilst Adobe are not forthcoming about the purpose of this app, Adobe Reader Manager appears to be a update/download manager for adobe reader 9.2 and launches at windows startup via the following registry entry:

"Adobe ARM"="\"C:\\Program Files\\Common Files\\Adobe\\ARM\\1.0\\AdobeARM.exe\""

To prevent it from starting at windows startup you can safely delete this entry from the registry.

Contrary to what some posts suggest relative to “disabling automatic updates in the enterprise environment by creating bUpdater DWORD and setting value to 0 under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Adobe\Acrobat Reader\9.0\FeatureLockdown” this just prevents Help, Check for Updates.. menu option from appearing.

Adobe forum post …

Useful blog post and comments …


February 13, 2010

"CCleaner is a donationware utility program developed by Piriform used to optimize a user’s computer performance and clean its registry.


  • allows the user to remove unused temporary files from Internet browsers and other supported applications along with browsing history, cookies, recycle bin, and AutoComplete form history;
  • allows for the cleaning of the recycle bin, memory dumps, file fragments, log files, system caches, application data, and various other data;
  • includes a Registry Cleaner to locate and correct problems in the Windows Registry such as missing shared DLLs, unused file extensions and application paths;
  • supports the cleaning of temporary and unneeded files from certain programs, including Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome, Foxit Reader, Microsoft Office (97, XP, 2003, 2007), Nero Burning ROM, Java, Windows Live Messenger, ZoneAlarm, Flash Player, QuickTime, VirtualDub, Windows Media Player, Paint.NET, 7-Zip, Avira AntiVir, Spybot – Search & Destroy, Windows Registry Editor, eMule, KaZaA, Google Toolbar, Netscape, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip;
  • assists in the uninstallation process by allowing users to uninstall programs from CCleaner itself;
  • allows the alteration of start-up programs, similar to the Microsoft Windows MSConfig Utility. Users can disable several start-up programs to free up processor speed at start-up;
  • allows users to delete System Restore Points – as of version 2.13.8.

Rebuilt in C++, CCleaner 2.0 is portable and compatible with all 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 as well as being installed onto a USB flash drive, to ensure portability.

It is not recommended to delete files from the Windows Prefetch folder by ticking the box "Old Prefetch data" in the Advanced section. Deleting prefetch files reduces performance; applications and Windows will load slower. Windows automatically cleans unused prefetch files.

IE Flaw Could Allow Hackers Access to Files

February 4, 2010

Microsoft have confirmed that using a version of Internet Explorer that is not running in Protected Mode an attacker may be able to access files with an already known filename and location. These versions include Internet Explorer 5.01 Service Pack 4 on Microsoft Windows 2000 Service 4; Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 on Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4; and Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, and Internet Explorer 8 on supported editions of Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Service Pack 3, and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2. Protected Mode prevents exploitation of this vulnerability and is running by default for versions of Internet Explorer on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008.

Sources …

PC Advisor …

Microsoft Security Advisory (980088) …

Explanation of Data Execution Protection …

Windows Enterprise Anti-virus Exclusions

December 2, 2009

Virus scanning recommendations for computers that are running:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000 and services such as Active Directory, DNS, DHCP as well as Microsoft Windows Update or Automatic Update related files
  • Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7: Microsoft Windows Update or Automatic Update related files


Anti-Virus Exclusions in the Enterprise…

Apple Magic Mouse Works on Windows 7

November 25, 2009

Apple’s latest mice sensation – the multi-touch capable Magic Mouse introduced iPhone-style touch capabilities in the world of mice for users running OS X. This amazing product of engineering which is a multi-touch descendant of the iPhone soon became the heartthrob of Mac users. Since Magic Mouse is officially supported to work on Macs only, PC users running Windows were left out in the dark since there is currently no multi-touch capable mouse available for PC market.

Good news is that the folks over at UneasySilence have managed to hack the driver to make it run on PCs running any version of Windows from XP to 7. Thanks to Apple for the Bluetooth driver update, and thanks to hackers for the hack which has enabled them to extract the two .exe files from the update so that Windows users can enjoy the taste of the first multi-touch capable mouse on their PCs.

Thanks to a little hackery from Apple’s Bluetooth Update (located here) the Magic Mouse driver was extracted via WinRar resulting in a 32bit version and a 64bit version that you can install on any ordinary Windows PC that will enable all the scrolling ‘magic’ of the Magic Mouse.

With the help of these modified drivers, you can use Apple Magic Mouse on both 32, and 64 bit editions of Windows XP, Vista and 7.

Download Apple Magic Mouse Driver for Windows (32 Bit)
Download Apple Magic Mouse Driver for Windows (64 Bit)