Most systems administrators are familiar with Microsoft's practice of releasing a hotfix for a problem documented in the Knowledge Base, but making the hotfix available only by phoning Product Support Services (PSS).
My guess as to why they do this is to keep distribution of these non-regression-tested hotfixes to a minimum, since said hotfixes will eventually be re-released in a more polished form. But it's still annoying.
Here's some good news. Now it's possible to obtain hotfixes from Microsoft without calling PSS. This has been made possible by a new Web form that lets you request a specific hotfix by its Knowledge Base (KB) article number. The form asks for the country you live in, your email address, the KB article number you're referring to, the version of Windows you're using and which language you're requesting the hotfix for.
I tried the service to request a specific hotfix (KB 936003) and in about 20 minutes I got an email saying that my hotfix had been packaged and made available for download. A link in the email referred me to a self-extracting archive hosted on Microsoft's site, which had been protected with a one-time-only password.
I was able to download the hotfix, extract it with the supplied password and apply it. Total time from requesting the hotfix to actually applying it was about half an hour. Note: The password on the hotfix expires after a certain length of time, since it's not meant to be redistributed.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of experience working with Windows, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and other TechTarget sites.
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