Grief with Microsoft software, hardware

You have to give Microsoft Corp. credit some of the time. Sure, the majority of us feel frustrated by the bugs in many of its products. But at least the company is serious about fixing problems–especially if users cry loudly enough.

For instance, last time I wrote about a security hole in Windows XP’s online help tool. As I reported, Microsoft plugged the hole and included the fix with Service Pack 1 for Windows XP. At that time, the company said it would not release a separate patch. Since then, however, it has reversed that position and released an individual fix.

Also last month, Microsoft insisted that a vulnerability in Word 97, 2000, and 2002 was really a feature. The problem? A miscreant could steal files off your hard drive. The company responded by posting some general advice on how to protect your documents. But a few weeks later, Microsoft changed its mind and released a set of patches to fix the Word hole, as well as a related one in Excel 2002.

Microsoft has fessed up to hardware problems, too: The company recently acknowledged connection glitches with its new networking units. Owners of Microsoft’s MN-500 broadband wireless base station and MN-100 wired Ethernet router have experienced dropped connections and error messages. Some users reported that their connections would go down as often as every half hour.

Microsoft released a firmware patch that applies to both devices. If you use the Auto Update service, you should already have been notified about the fix (click here to learn how to set up Auto Update). Lastly, see Microsoft’s general tips on how to improve your wireless performance.

Bug Exterminator: Outlook 2002 Troubles

My Windows XP system was only three months old when I first ran into a major problem with Outlook 2002. It happened right after I installed Service Pack 2 for Office XP. I couldn’t use Outlook anymore without the program crashing. I uninstalled the service pack, but that didn’t help; I also followed some newsgroup recommendations, but those suggestions didn’t help either. I contacted Microsoft, and they wanted me to pay a fee for support.

Scott Malat, New York

Bugs and Fixes responds: I contacted Microsoft on Malat’s behalf. A company tech e-mailed Malat a link to a patch, and the problem went away.

If you are experiencing the same problem, you can request the fix by contacting [email protected]. Microsoft has yet to add the patch to its updates library.

In Brief

Toshiba PDA Recall

Some Toshiba Pocket PC E740 devices are losing data when their batteries die. The serial numbers of affected units range from 72014641L through 92041620L. Click here to read a PDF file on the manufacturer’s repair procedure.

Oh, Brother!

Brother is recalling some of its older multifunction devices and laser printers because the fuser can create a fire hazard. The models affected are HL-1040, HL-1050, HL-1060, and MFC-P2000. If you bought one of these units between 1997 and 2000, return it to your authorized service center for a fuser replacement (see the details here).


Found a hardware or software bug? Tell us about it via e-mail at [email protected].

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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