Network Productivity Group

... a computer consultancy


The tip...

We had the pleasure of attending a Microsoft seminar the other day.  It is always good to stay up with what the Redmond boys are up to.  There was one rather pleasant announcement.  Starting now, Microsoft will offer a FREE virus consulting service via telephone.  Stepping up to their responsibility for viruses, all you need do is call 1-866-PC-SAFETY and Microsoft will offer to help you identify and remove any virus you might have.

That is the good news.  We have not tried it yet but urge you to.   Let us know how it goes.  

Here is, if not the bad news, what I predict the “caveats” will be. 

I expect they are going to ask you: 

What anti-virus program are you using?  It is up to date?  Have you run a full system scan? 

Have you run one of the on-line scans?  (These are available from TrendMicro,; Symantec aka Norton Anti-virus,, and McAfee,, and there may be others.) 

The last and biggest “hook” will be, I expect, have you downloaded and installed all of the “critical” updates for your system? 

Historically these updates have seemed as risky to system health as they have been valuable although our personal experience has only found that Internet Explorer 6.0 removes the ability to exclude files when using Microsoft free Backup. 

So we tried Update on our Windows 98, ME and 2000 Pro systems (XP was already set to auto update and has been doing that since we installed it – no trouble so far).  Windows 98 was a little scary – 19 critical updates recommended.  That was a bit much for us so we downloaded and installed them five at a time and after each install checked that we could still use the Internet, check e-mail, open and access Quickbooks (the major application on that machine) and the “regulars” as in Word, Excel, etc.   

To summarize, all our systems are now up to date, all are working and we only encountered one fairly simple “gotcha”. One of the updates installs and turns on a change in Outlook Express.  In TOOLS | OPTIONS | SECURITY | VIRUS PROTECTION an option has been added that will not let you open attachments to e-mails even if you want to.  You might consider leaving that on and turning it off when you really, really want to open an attachment. 

We need to add our own set of caveats.  Our Opera browser machine runs on the XP machine and we have not had any conflicts between it and XP despite regularly installing the updates.  We cannot say that this will be true with 98, ME or 2000.  We do not have installed or use Netscape.  We do not use Outlook for e-mail.  I suggest you do as we did and install the Updates a few at a time and check your browser and e-mail program after each installation.  You can remove them.  If you are using the “exclude” function of the Windows Backup program take note of the aforementioned conflict with Internet Explorer 6.0.

How do you get the updates?  Go to and midway down that page on the left-hand side you will see “Windows Update”.  Follow that link and the web site will scan your machine for the critical updates, recommended updates and driver updates.  We expect the critical ones are going to be a prerequisite for the new virus service and we recommend the drivers.  The others are up to you.  (In the case of 98 most of the “recommended” were relevant to languages we do not read or write.)

And don’t forget that we are here to help.  


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Telephone US (562) 930-1343- Fax (562) 439-7174