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Microsoft adds new features to free monitoring tool

IT managers can delve deeper into their computer networks with the latest version of Process Monitor, a tool that originated at Sysinternals, which was acquired by Microsoft.

Microsoft released this week an update to its free monitoring tool with extra features that will let IT managers see even more deeply into what is going on in their computer networks.

Process Monitor 1.11 lets IT managers monitor network processes for any unusual activity or problems, and it provides a window into what is happening in the operating system.

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In the fall, Microsoft released the first version of the tool, Process Monitor 1.01. It was the first technology from its Winternals Software LP acquisition in July of last year. Winternals is an Austin, Texas-based maker of Windows-based systems recovery and data protection tools. The deal also included the acquisition of the Winternals Web site, called Sysinternals, a popular destination for Windows users that includes forums, blogs and free software tools.

At the time of the acquisition, Microsoft said it would continue making free Sysinternals tools available.

New features include boot time logging of all operations

This newest version, Process Monitor 1.11, was released earlier this week and now includes boot time logging of all operations. "That's pretty significant," said Serdar Yegulalp, a Windows expert and publisher of The Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. "It's one of the more useful features."

IT departments field a lot of complaints about hanging boot times for computers, and this new feature lets them see exactly what is going on very early in the boot process, Yegulalp said.

It shows device drivers as they kick in, and it provides a log of all the activity in the system, he said. "You can see what the last good thing was that happened in the system."

Cancellable search was also added, which is not as significant but it's helpful, said Yegulalp. The tool collects a lot of data, and searching through it can take a while. Now the search can be canceled if it turns out the search term is wrong, when previously the search had to continue to completion.

Window finder toolbar for efficiency

Process Monitor 1.11 has a new window finder toolbar for setting process filters easily and several other improvements will help IT managers monitor and diagnose system activity as it happens.

Process Monitor combines two other well known Sysinternals tools -- FileMon and RegMon -- with other features. FileMon monitors and shows activity on a system as it happens, and RegMon monitors and shows the specific applications that access the registry.

Microsoft said it is phasing out the Winternals Administrator's Pack. It has always been a commercial product, but it will not be sold after April 30, according to Microsoft. It includes nine tools, including crash analyzer wizard, FileRestore, and enterprises editions of FileMon and RegMon.

Components of the pack will be added to Microsoft's Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance. This pack will be available on May 1 through an add-on subscription license for Software Assurance customers.

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