12/96 Notes From The Lab
From WinMag Central
NT 4 Point Uh-Oh
(Like any big release, Windows NT Server 4.0's got bugs. We found
a few that range from disquieting to dysfunctional. Microsoft
has been notified-now it's your turn.)
- Thanks to a bug, each user logging on locally needs at least
list access to every directory along the path to the Desktop subdirectory
for his or her profile. Without it, you'll get a dialog box titled
"Desktop" with the words "Can't access this folder.
Path too long." Explorer then fails to load, leaving no choice
but to use Task Manager or log off. Unfortunately, that requirement
also gives you list access to the Profiles subdirectory, which
contains directories bearing the account names of every user who
has logged on locally since NT was installed. Even Microsoft admits
that's not ideal. One possible cure is to have the network administrator
use Explorer to separate users' profiles so they don't share a
common parent directory, then use the Registry Editor to point
to the new subdirectories.
- NT 4.0 also exhibits some interesting behavior over a network.
Even administrative users have problems deleting read-only folders
on the server via the network, if they're working from a Win95
machine. First, you're asked if you really want to delete the
read-only item, which is exactly what happens when you try deleting
local read-only files. So far, so good-but a "yes" triggers
an access-denied message. You must disable the read-only attribute
for the folder (which, luckily, you can do over the network) before
deleting the file. If you're working with a complex directory
tree, like a hard-disk copy of a CD-ROM, you're in for a very
- NetBEUI, the protocol recommended by Microsoft, has a problem
connecting two servers via remote access. If two or more system
names on a server differ only in the first character, the protocol
fails, saying there's already a computer by that name on the network.
When it reports the offending system's name, the dialog box mysteriously
substitutes "IS~" for the first letter. Go figure.
- Looking for a surefire way to crash your system? With ROLLBACK.EXE,
located in Support\Deptools\<system>, which is on the NT
4.0 Workstation and Server CD-ROMs, you're guar-anteed to take
your system back to where it was at the end of NT's character-based
setup routine. Even your emergency repair disk can't put NT together
again. Yes, Microsoft did develop ROLLBACK.EXE, but it got on
the CD-ROMs by accident; it was intended for OEMs only.
Hide and Go Find
Microsoft swears this is a feature, not a bug. If you opt to hide
files with system extensions (.DLL, .VXD and so forth), NT's Explorer
will conceal the Desktop, Nethood, Printhood, Recent and Templates
subdirectories as well. Why? Well, user studies have shown that
novices get confused when the Desktop subdirectory appears in
two places at once (as a subdirectory and at the root in a two-pane
Explorer window). Similarly, you can access the other directories
mentioned by alternate means (from the Desktop, Start menu and
so forth), so they are also hidden from Explorer to avoid confusion.
Why didn't Microsoft simply give that behavior its own radio button?
And why does Explorer's Find view still show the Desktop folder
as a subdirectory? Why, indeed.
Windows NT 3.51 has an oversight in its DOS command processor
that many folks knew about and expected not to find in 4.0. No
such luck. Basically, you can overwrite files using the copy command
from the command line without so much as a warning prompt. The
warning prompt from the prehistoric DOS days still hasn't found
its way into NT.