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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
XP bandwidth brouhaha

THE NEWNESS OF Windows XP -- with its sometimes addled approach to license restrictions, copy protection, and security -- lends itself to confusion. Reader Tom Gleason sent me an example, quoting Web sites that claimed XP needlessly consumes 20 percent of your PC's network bandwidth.

Like a lot of online talk, this is misinformed. Windows 2000 introduced QoS (quality of service) features using an Admission Control Service and the Internet Engineering Task Force's RSVP signaling. XP doesn't support these two protocols but provides its own QoS components. The QoS Packet Scheduler dialog box in XP Professional shows a default "bandwidth limit" of 20 percent. This created a buzz on the Web to the effect that XP artificially withheld one-fifth of your bandwidth, even if its Packet Scheduler was turned off.

Not to worry. There's no restriction unless your network specifically supports XP-style QoS and it's requested by an application, such as a streaming media player. Even then, by default only 20 percent is set aside. (See www.techtv.com/screensavers/windowstips/story/0,24330,3365585,00.html.)

But it is worth looking into QoS, because some applications can benefit from increasing it or, conversely, terminating it. For example, high-speed Internet access through the DirecTV satellite service will not work unless XP's QoS is disabled. (See www.direcpc.com/xpinstall/install.htm.)

Reader Frank Brown sent me a completely different concern about XP, relating to VNC (Virtual Network Computing), a free remote-access application I described last week (see "Your virtual network," InfoWorld, March 11).

Microsoft's XP license agreement says, "Except as otherwise permitted by the NetMeeting, Remote Assistance, and Remote Desktop features described below, you may not use the Product to permit any Device to use, access, display, or run other executable software residing on the Workstation Computer, nor may you permit any Device to use, access, display, or run the Product or Product's user interface, unless the Device has a separate license for the Product."

That means using any software other than Microsoft's to view an XP desktop from Windows 2000 or any other operating system would violate the company's license agreement, in case you care.

"I use VNC extensively to manage several hundred desktops daily," Brown says. "So for me this is a big deal, and a good reason to stay away from XP until I see significant value added compared to Win 2000. So far I haven't."

I'm interested in hearing any surprising facts you've discovered in your own experience with QoS, XP, or any other Windows technology.

Readers Gleason and Brown will receive gift certificates for a free book, CD, or DVD of their choice for being the first to send me a tip I printed.




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