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IE5 installation kills-off NT remote update service

A helpful little piece of integration breaks update automation. Pending arrival of Win2k, no doubt...

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A network administrator for a major US bank has drawn our attention to a serious (for him, at least) breakage of NT caused by Internet Explorer 5.0. In summary it would appear that Microsoft integration/proprietorisation via IE 5 disables a highly useful open systems(ish) routine, the Schedule service. This ships with NT, and in the equivalent of the Unix cron service. "We use it extensively at our company to deploy updates and perform functions. We run it under special user account so that it can access network resources." But if you upgrade to IE 5, Schedule is replaced by Task Scheduler, one of those little extras Microsoft adds to its software, and this only runs as a system service, and can't be changed to a user account. So blap, no more update deployment automation for our bank. Our informant continues: "But here's the weird part: If you look at the Services applet in Control Panel, you see "Task Scheduler" in the list. Schedule is gone. But if you go into the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services you see that the Schedule entry is still there... just changed. It now runs MsTask.exe instead of the faithful AtSvc.exe. But wait.. it gets better. The two services don't play nicely together. If you have MsTask you cannot schedule events on any machines that have AtSvc. So... even though all my servers have AtSvc, I can't send jobs out to them from my IE5 'enabled' computer. "What the hell does this have to do with a web browser that isn't part of the OS? [ahem …] Why didn't they just add a new service entry and leave the decent scheduler in its place?" Task Scheduler isn't listed as an option for select or deselect during the install process, so he checked the IE 5 installation files, and found that its installation is a requirement, you can't get round it. "Essentially, this gives MS the ability to hook your OS and schedule jobs whenever it wants. This totally sucks." You can see why this is happening, because in the longer term the browser is integrated in Win2k, and the scheduling processes will be hooked into the grand MS schemes for remote management and update scheduling. But that's not much comfort for NT shops whose mechanisms for getting around Microsoft's shortcomings now have been broken by IE 5. Today you can use the add/remove applet to uninstall the feature on individual machines after it's been installed. Our network manager again: "So what do I do? Deploy 10,000 machines with IE5 and then manually visit them in four states to uninstall the Task Scheduler? Oooooooh... I know... I'll use the Schedule services to do it for me..." ®

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