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Technical Problems with WPA

In addition to the many privacy issues surrounding the WPA, this new technology has created technical nightmares for Microsoft users. To illustrate, take a look at the problems Rob Robinson, a network admin, ran into as he attempted to upgrade a server to Windows XP. What makes Rob's experience unique is that this server was also running Terminal Services (TS).

Rob summarizes his experience with this line: "WPA is unquestionably one of the worst abominations that MS has imposed on its customers." In short, upgrading his server disabled the TS application. This required Rob to call Microsoft for help. As he puts it, "No one with whom I spoke had the foggiest idea of how one installs TS client licenses and stated that no information was available in their MS databases." In the end, Microsoft suggested that "the only solution was to format the hard drive, reinstall everything, and thereby gain another 90 days of TS usage."

Rob still had to call back before the 90 days to get his license number, which was made more difficult by a dead DSL line. Microsoft eventually cut and pasted the 35-alphanumeric-character code from one database to another. All the computers then agreed that there was a working and activated license server.

Rob says that the next step was to enter the 5 x 7 character license pack code. "This was achieved after some fun telephone interaction with the phonetic alphabet," he says. "Our server now said that all was well. We had an activated TS license server and 10 licenses. Unfortunately, Remote Desktop still thought that there was no proper licensing. No amount of license server starts, stops, restarts, or other steps—including a system cold start—would convince the OS that the licensing existed." Rob finally removed TS licensing from the system. The only good news is that administrative Remote Desktop access then was enabled.

From this scenario, it is easy to see the predicament that the WPA places its users in. The typical installation of Windows XP may not present too many issues for the novice user, but this example illustrates the difficulties that more advanced users and administrators may face if they attempt to upgrade to any operating system using the WPA. In the end, Rob was told that any upgrade to his server would require a repeat of the entire formatting and reinstallation process.

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