Reader's nostalgia for his good old Windows-- YAU PC

by Alan Zisman (c) 1999, first published in Vancouver Computes, June 1999

Christer Jacobsson wondered:

Is it possible to make the Desktop in NT4 as much like the venerable Win31-desktop?

In 3.1, when I install a program, a visible folder is created on the desktop and the program's starting icon will sit inside this folder. To start the program, this icon is double-clicked.

In contrast, installing a program in NT4 *no* visible folder is created on the desktop but the program will appear under the Run entry in the Start button. To start my program, I have to click Start->Run->Basic Tax Pkg 98/99->Tax 98/99. For me, who has poor eyesight, it would be much easier if there sat a visible folder, Basic Tax Pkg. 98/99, on my NT4 desktop and inside it an icon, Tax 98/99, which I could double-click to launch the tax program.

So: Can the NT4 desktop easily be customized to appear and behave as much as possible like the old Win3.1 desktop?

Alan wrote:

1) You can customize the NT 4.x (or Windows 9x) desktop in any of a number of ways-- you can, for example, place large icons  ('shortcuts') of frequently used programs 'loose' on the Desktop, and start those programs by double-clicking on them, much as you did in Win 3.x.

If you have a large number of such icons, you can create folders, and place these shortcut icons within the folders.

-- you can copy icons from your existing Start Menu items by right-clicking on the Start Button, and choosing OPEN from the popup menu. This will give you a large-icon view of the contents of the Start Menu.

Use the right-mouse button to drag icons from the windows to the Desktop-- this will give you a popup menu with choices to Copy/Move/Create Shortcut Here/Cancel-- pick COPY... using the left mouse button will MOVE the icons, removing them from the Start Menu entirely.

2) A version of the old Win 3.x Program Manager exists under NT 4.0, as progman.exe in the C:\WINNT\system32 folder (or whatever your NT folders are called). By default, it is empty, but it could be set up to run automatically on startup, and you could add program groups and icons as desired to have a real Win 3.x-like experience (except that minimized Program Groups are taskbar-like rectangles rather than Win 3.x-like squares).

3) You can customize the Start Menu itself, to make it easier to find what you often use... Mine. for example, has a custom 'Check Here First' submenu at the top, with the icons of the 10 or so most frequently used programs and documents. Makes it much easier, without cluttering the Desktop.

To customize the Start Menu, again, start by right-clicking on the Start Button, and choosing OPEN... then you can create new folders, copy existing shortcuts, etc.

Al Robres asked:

Can you tell me how to disable the "auto-play" in Win95?
Every time I put a CD disk in the drive it wants to run the disk.
Alan suggested:

Two ways:

1) If you have the TweakUI Control Panel add-in (free from Microsoft and VERY handy for lots of these sorts of tweaks), go to its Paranoia tab, and uncheck the:

 [x] Play audio CDs automatically
 [x] Play data CDs automatically


2) Alternatively, go to the Control Panel/System/Device Manager option... open up the CD-ROM listing by clicking on the [+] sign... select your CD-ROM and click on the Properties button. Go to the Settings tab, and uncheck the
 [x] Auto Insert Notification option.

Finally, holding down the shift key when you insert the CD will disable autoplay without making any permanent changes.

Ken Weitzel queried:

Can anyone tell me how easy it will be to remove NT4 WorkStation from a machine; leaving 95 and everything else intact?

If not considered wise; can I safely erase the files in the winnt and lower directories to save drive space?   How about the huge swap file?

And finally, if it isn't possible to remove it, does anyone know how to make the default boot to win95 instead of NT?

Alan answered:

Either can be done...

1) the easiest way to make W95 the default boot is to boot to NT using an Administrator log-on, then go to Control Panel/System/Startup-Shutdown... this lets you choose the default Startup from a dropdown list, and while you're there, set the default time the menu stays on screen.

Alternatively, edit Boot.ini in Notepad (remove the Read-only attribute first), so it resembles this version, which boots to W95 by default:

[boot loader]

[operating systems]
C:\="Windows 95"
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version
4.00 [VGA mode]" /basevideo /sos

2) To totally remove NT-WS, boot to DOS or Win95, then remove the

-- your NT folder
-- the following C: root files:
 pagefile.sys (your NT swapfile)

If you have NTBOOTDD.SYS, delete it as well.
This may do it, but to be completely sure, boot to your Win95 emergency diskette, and type: SYS C: from the dos prompt.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan