Winternals Gets Scooped Up by Microsoft

Bruce and Mark are heading the way of Microsoft. Microsoft now owns Winternals and all its assets. I predict that this will be a very good thing in the long run. Give people a taste of what Windows PE can do with Vista and then turn around and sell them something that actually works with the Winternals Administrator Pak.

OK, now time for conspiracy theories! You’ll remember back on April 15th of this year that I blogged about Winternals building a case against Best Buy for pirating the Winternals software. If you try my link in my blog entry to the evidence, it doesn’t work anymore (although the story about the lawsuit is still on the Winternals site). Mark announces Best Buy and Winternals came to a settlement on July 10th. Microsoft bought Winternals on July 18th. Coincidence? I think not! You’ll remember that Best Buy and Microsoft were big buddies with their MSN program starting in December of 1999. Microsoft went to bat with Best Buy in October of 2002 to strike a better deal. With this settlement, Microsoft gets licensing fees for all the stores of one of the country’s largest retailers. Sounds like Microsoft finally got the deal they always wanted. 🙂

Just consider this…Best Buy was rumored to have been developing their own version of the ERD Commander based on the free version of BartPE. BartPE was definitely cutting into Winternals profits and with WinRE in Vista coming to the masses in January 2007, it doesn’t take long to see that Winternals would be in some seriously hot water next year. Very smart move on Microsoft’s part in saving the company! Mark Russinovich is the kind of talent that Microsoft needs. Hopefully, all the utilities that Russinovich has been working on getting automatically built into the OS.

– Soli Deo Gloria

LiteOn DVD Burner SOHW-1693S Dies

What a bummer…didn’t even make it through a 50 pack of DVDs. My LiteOn DVD burner died today…would burn part way through the disc and then start spinning out of control. The drive was 8 months old: very disappointing. Newegg.com does have a cool RMA program where you can send the unit back to them (you have to pay shipping their way) and they will repair the unit under the manufacturer’s warranty. Better than nothing I guess! I’ve ordered a Pioneer DVD burner in the mean time: model DVR-111D. Let’s hope this one lasts more then 8 months!

– Soli Deo Gloria.

Missing Network Connections

After packaging a MSI file to remove the Novell client, we discovered that the MSI file wiped out all the adapters in the Network Connections applet. Eek! After trying countless articles at Microsoft, I discovered that deleting the Config value under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network and then rebooting the system returned all the adapters back into Network Connections.

– Soli Deo Gloria

Sysinternals Video Set

Sysinternals is about to release a 6 DVD series on various topics, all of which interest me! For a limited time, they are offering them at a discounted rate of $299. When they are finally released, the price jumps to $399. Take a look here: you can see they have a 49 minute video for FREE to download on their web site! After looking at the newer versions of the Sysinternals utilities, it appears they are also restricting the use of these utilities in a corporate environment. If you use them in a corporate environment you have to get a license. A EULA now appears for each program the very first time you run them on a new PC.

Older versions of the Sysinternals utilities do not have this EULA, so if you need to use these in a corporate environment and don’t want to get a license, I suggest finding older versions which do not have this EULA. (Note: although I have these older versions, the EULA of these older versions forbid me from distributing them to anyone).

The other interesting part of this video is that Mark indicates that Filemon and Regmon will be merged into one tool called Process Monitor.

– Soli Deo Gloria

Attack of the 16-bit App

Recently, I was given the task of upgrading some Windows 95 machines in our company to Windows XP. One user on Windows 95 was using a 16-bit application called Advanced Gage Calibration. This program is used to calibrate machine tools. Upon copying to Windows XP and launching the program, it complained about missing files. Upon loading trusty Filemon, I determined it needed VBRUN300.DLL along with some other DLLs. After copying over all the files flagged by Filemon, the program was still giving a “BTREIVE: File not found error”. This was quite curious as Filemon showed it wasn’t hitting any missing files.

Having experience with BTREIVE in the past, I knew it was an ODBC driver which interfaces a program with a database. I was going in circles on Google trying to find a BTREIVE installation program (a hex dump of WBTRCALL.DLL showed it was version 5.11). I took a step back and took another look at the Filemon log. Before loading any of the files, the AGC program reads C:WINDOWSWIN.INI. WIN.INI is the forerunner of the Windows 9x/NT Registry. Back in yesteryear, programs use to store their program data in WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI. I remember tinkering with Gator, a 16-bit text editor, back in 1993. The trial version would store its trial “countdown” data in a secret section in the WIN.INI file. Even after uninstalling and reinstalling Gator, it would know how many days you used in their trial period because of this section. Upon looking at the WIN.INI file on the Windows 95 machine, I discovered this:

[BTRIEVE]
OPTIONS=/m:63 /p:4096 /f:40 /l:60 /u:5
TASKS=50

This must pass certain options to BTREIVE to read the data. One of the errors was a subscript error, so some of these options must tell BTREIVE the “index” and “boundaries” of the database. The other interesting thing was this text string in the hex dump of WBTRCALL.DLL: “Btrieve V5.11 DLL for MS-Windows Beta Version“. Beta version? Why would you sell a program with beta drivers? Yikes!

– Soli Deo Gloria