Windows XP Tablet PC: repair of memory leaks

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What is up with Microsoft? Lately? WXPNews recently reported a "new" fix for a well-known memory leak in the tablet pc edition of Windows XP. Most tablet pc users know the longer you use it, the slower it gets. Some desktop owners have probably seen similar symptoms with their systems, but this "fix" is only for tablet pc users. Here is my problem with this fix and I'll share the workaround further below.

On June 6, 2006, Microsoft sent out a "revised" knowledge based article announcing a fix for the memory leak present in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005. I looked all over this new article, and it appears to me that the only update is a new requirement that users first call Microsoft support (at $35.00 per hour) to obtain the fix.

A Google search for "tablet PC memory leak" revealed a number of web links discussing a prior Microsoft article announcing what appears to be the same fix for the memory leak. This article was published July 5, 2005, a year ago. This article is also problematic because it came out right around the time that Microsoft started requiring people to re-validate their systems with the then newly introduced "Windows Genuine Advantage," another anti-piracy shield by Microsoft which does nothing to stop software piracy and everything to annoy users. As discussed in one of my prior articles, Windows XP: Genuine Disadvantage [], it's yet another hoop created by Microsoft requiring that we prove we are the rightful owners of the "genuine" product before we get necessary updates and fixes we're entitled to.

Microsoft's position in these knowledge base articles is reprehenisible. Basically, Microsoft is prohibiting your access to a fix of their faulty programming until you take some specific action that should NOT be required from you:

Last year, you were instructed to first download and use Windows Genuine Advantage and re-validate your product key before getting the hofix for the memory leak (an action that obligates you to first lower your Internet security to validate your product key);

This year, you are directed to first call Microsoft support at $35 per hour so that support personnel can get whatever information they require before sending you the hotfix.

Microsoft continues to prove that greed, not quality, guides its customer support. It continues to present obstacles that are at a minimum ridiculous, and more often costly and time-consuming. I would have to be in absolute dire straights before I'd ever call anyone's customer support. I can't think of any reasonable reason for Microsoft to require its customers to call support for a downloadable fix. In the unlikely event there is a logical reason to essentially charge customers for the fix, Microsoft should provide a clear explanation in its knowledge base article. It's more likely, however, that Microsoft has lost interest in its tablet pc software line which had been marketed primarily to businesses. It could be that charging for support (downloadable hotfixes) is merely a way to make more money in an essentially dead tablet pc market.

Well, luckily, some of the research and development guys at Microsoft maintain PR blogs. Last year TabBlogger, a test engineer at Microsoft who works on the tablet pc project, provided this blog with a direct download link to the hotfix for the memory leak. Hopefully, both the blog and link will remain available to tablet pc users who don't feel like lowering their Internet security or paying customer support for this downloadable fix.

Obviously, I make no guarantees regarding this or any fix provided by Microsoft for its products. Let's be realistic. Programming isn't an exact science and I do recognize that, despite their best efforts, the developers at Microsoft are faced with way too many variables to provide a completely clean and reliable program out of the box. It would be naive and even perhaps unfair to expect that.

What I don't like is Microsoft's continued antagonism of its paying customers by forcing validation and revalidation of its products; its ineffective user-end anti-piracy measures; and its recent brass in requiring people to call support for downloadable fixes. Frankly, if it can get away with charging for that, there isn't much incentive for Microsoft to release bug-free software, is there?

So what does all this have to do with browsing the Internet, which is what this blog is supposed to be about? Probably very little. Admittedly, I've gone off topic in my recent rants against Microsoft. In a feeble attempt to bring my blog back on track, let me turn to the Internet research I did here. Most of what I've learned about any problem I have with one of my computers has come from the Internet. People post questions and answers all over the net. The trick is to choose the right keywords and conduct a search using Google, Yahoo, MSN or whatever search engine you prefer. This article resulted from my Internet search for "tablet pc memory leak," which in turn was prompted by my desire to see if anyone had already posted the fix for the memory leak so that I wouldn't have to sit on the phone with Microsoft support (my time) at $35 an hour (my money). Internet research will similarly save you time and money. I strongly urge you to plug in a few keywords into a reliable search engine from time to time before you type in your personal data, credit card information, or anything else a vendor asks of you. Sometimes you get a good hit and you read a helpful blog that tells you how to download a potential fix, or something like that.

N. Saco is a contributor and founder of several information web sites, including WomensWebWatch.Com and WetwareSolutions.Com. Her blog is located at InternetExplorerBlog.Com [] and a copy of this article can be found there. She has a degree in Communications, focusing in critical analysis, a minor in cultural anthropology, and 20 years experience in research, writing and investigation, primarily in medical litigation support. [This article may be freely distributed at no charge to your readers along with the author's bio and web links. Copyright 2006 Nikki Saco. All other rights reserved.]

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