Microsoft finds flaw in server software

A new glitch in one of Microsoft's server software packages is causing headaches for some small businesses.

A new glitch in one of Microsoft's server software packages is causing headaches for some small businesses.

The problem affects all customers who installed SharePoint Services after Nov. 24. SharePoint, which is used to create a company intranet, is included as part of the standard and premium editions of the recently launched Small Business Server 2003 package, which also includes the Windows Server 2003 operating system and Microsoft Exchange e-mail software. The problem prevents SharePoint from installing properly.

Microsoft said it learned of the problem last week and posted a knowledge base article describing the problem on its Web site and to a newsgroup. It said it added more prominent links about the problem on its site on Monday. In the posting, the company said it expected to have a software update correcting the issue "in the next several days."

"We really understand the problem, and we're really close to finding a solution," said Eugene Ho, director of development for Windows Small Business Server.

The problem occurs when the software incorrectly interprets some dynamic-link libraries as invalid. For now, Microsoft is recommending a workaround that involves setting back the date and then uninstalling and reinstalling the affected software components. Those who installed the software before Nov. 24 should not experience problems, Microsoft said.

The problem is most likely to crop up for those installing Microsoft Small Business Server but can also occur for those who download SharePoint Services directly from Microsoft. Most large businesses that use SharePoint do so in conjunction with SQL Server, and those installations are not affected, Microsoft said.

Among those hit with the issue was Ken Schoenberg, who handles information technology for a small law firm in Delray Beach, Fla. Schoenberg said he spent hours trying to figure out what went wrong after installing the software last week. Schoenberg said e-mails to Microsoft went unanswered and that it took him quite a while to find mention of the issue on Microsoft's Web site.

"I think anything that causes a problem at the point of install should have been widely publicized by Microsoft...rather than just posted in a knowledge base article and mentioned in the 'Release Candidate' newsgroup for the software," Schoenberg said in an e-mail interview. He also said Microsoft should have taken the added step of e-mailing a warning to people as they were activating and registering the software.

"Finally, it's pretty scary that a bug like this was able to get through their testing," he said.

Microsoft officials said the company worked quickly to communicate broadly about the problem and develop a fix.

"This is obviously something we feel bad about, but we feel confident on the overall quality of the product," Ho said. "It's just one of those unfortunate things."

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