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volume 5 number 9 september 2000 TipSheet

Welcome to the September issue of MicroMetric's TipSheet.

This monthly newsletter is targeted at addressing the needs of our customers.

This month we'll conclude a series of tips on Internet Security and give you a preview of Windows Millennium Edition.

Tip 336   HARDWARE INTERNET FIREWALLS Category:   Security

Whether you have a home office, small business, or a multi-computer household, the demand is always the same: bandwidth. You may be fortunate enough to have a cable modem or DSL line, or even a 64K or 128K ISDN connection. In any event, it makes no sense for one computer to hog all that bandwidth or to order up additional lines that will just be underutilized. The solution? Share the wealth. Small router/firewall products have seized the opportunity in this emergent market.

The router not only shares your DSL, cable, or ISDN connection among multiple machines, but it also adds a strong layer of security to your system by assigning an IP address to each computer, one that can't be seen by the outside world. This network address translation, or NAT, is generally performed by DHCP, a protocol that allows each machine to request its address from the router, which makes the job almost painless for you.

If you want to share your high-speed cable or DSL Internet connection, the Linksys EtherFast Cable/DSL Router may be the most economical answer. It has all the features you'd expect for an Internet-sharing device: the ability to share a single IP address from your ISP, network address translation, and a built-in DHCP server that automatically assigns IP addresses to computers on your local network.


It's the end of an era. Microsoft says that Windows Me--its cutesy abbreviation for Millennium Edition--is the last member of the product line that conquered the world's desktops five years ago with the release of Windows 95. (Yes, Microsoft said the same of Windows 98, but this time they seem serious.)

This final installment in the Windows 9x family, to be available September 14th, is aimed at device-happy consumers who like multimedia tools and long for a more crash-resistant PC. Businesses using Windows 95 or 98 will also find things to like about Me. In particular, its recovery capabilities could entice systems administrators beset by users who crash machines after installing unauthorized software. But companies that prize stability, networking capabilities, and security features are far better off migrating to Windows 2000 Professional (We'll do a Tip on this in the near future)

Two powerful system-safety features--which Microsoft has grouped under the general heading of PC Health--are among Me's best innovations. One is an invisible watchdog that prevents disastrous alterations to system files. Even better is a rollback tool that lets you revert to an earlier system configuration--a godsend to anyone who has ever tried to revive a PC torpedoed by crummy software.

Our conclusion: The Me-exclusive PC Health features are the best reason to invest in the upgrade. But if you aren't pining for recovery features, you don't really need Me. Instead, wait for Microsoft to fix bugs and incompatibilities (we spotted a few), or hold out for the next Windows. Meanwhile, take advantage of the various new features that you can download independently of the OS.

Though Microsoft isn't touting Windows Me as a performance-boosting upgrade, our tests did corroborate the company's claim that it boots faster than Windows 98 SE.

Freed from processing autoexec.bat and config.sys and displaying the whole MS-DOS user interface, Windows Me booted up about 35 percent faster than Windows 98 SE, which took 84 seconds. Shutdown times, already in the 3-second neighborhood for Win 98 SE, decreased by half.

Even if your PC meets Microsoft's system requirements (which include 32MB of RAM, 320MB of free disk space, and an Internet connection), you may want to think twice before upgrading. Most of the good stuff is available for downloading into a Win 9x environment. And in jumping to Me, you forfeit some compatibility--mainly with older DOS programs and drivers.

Copyright 2000, MicroMetric, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy in total, with this statement and copyright, is hereby granted.

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