MetaFrame weighs in

As I wrote last week, a new upgrade makes Microsoft's useful Terminal Services (TS) remote-access application much easier to manage.

As I wrote last week, a new upgrade makes Microsoft’s useful Terminal Services (TS) remote-access application much easier to manage (see Microsoft Support).

Under Microsoft’s original pay-per-view licensing scheme, a Windows 9x, Me or NT machine that used TS one time would consume a $US60 to $US120 licence forever. This was true even if a user logged on only once.

The patch, however, allows TS licences that haven’t been used for 90 days to be reclaimed by the server. This way, licences that were consumed by nomadic users or crashed disks will eventually be put back into the pool so other PCs can use them.

Specifically, a Windows 2000 server assigns each TS client a random expiration date between 52 days and 89 days after licensing. An active client renews its own TS licence indefinitely. But if a machine doesn’t use its licence for several weeks, back into the pool it goes. Windows 2000 Professional clients enjoy a built-in licence, so expiration dates apply only to Windows 9x, Me and NT clients.

The new policy isn’t as good as concurrent licensing, but it does reclaim licences in just a few internet years, rather than never. If you can wait a couple months for a once-used licence to be recovered you can avoid the need to call Microsoft to request more licence packs, the official method to replace licences that vanished.

In addition to reclaiming licences, the new TS patch also corrects another serious flaw. The old server software allocates a licence to any device that connects to the network using TS, whether or not a user successfully logs on. The patched software, by contrast, doesn’t use up a licence until a user’s second valid log-on. This should prevent cases where merely turning on a device causes a TS licence to be consumed.

Several readers recommended improvements on TS provided by MetaFrame software from Citrix Systems. MetaFrame offers better performance, printing, multimedia support and local drive mapping than TS alone, according to Sid Herron of VectorESP.com, an authorised MetaFrame reseller in the US.

Citrix recently released MetaFrame XP, a version that runs on Windows NT, 2000 and the forthcoming XP Server. MetaFrame doesn’t replace Microsoft’s version of TS but adds services to it. For example, MetaFrame streams video and audio files via a remote connection, which TS does not. And the add-on has better support for server load balancing and shadowing.

Microsoft’s new patch reduces management and licensing costs, making TS more widely accessible. MetaFrame pricing was also cut from $US6000 for 15 users to $US5800 for 20 users. Some combination of the two offerings may give your company the optimum way to support workers near or far.

Popping pop-ups

Meanwhile, for those annoyed by websites that open new browser windows without your approval, Panicware’s Pop-Up Stopper is a free program designed to stop such irritation. An even better download is WebWasher, a program that’s free for individuals and schools, $US29 for businesses. WebWasher provides a wide variety of options that can not only prevent unwanted pop-ups but can be configured to filter out irritating web scripts, blinking animations and more. See WebWasher.

Brian Livingston’s latest book is Windows Me Secrets (IDG Books).

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