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Command line usage in Windows XP


See also

Recommended Books Recommended Links Recommended Papers

Selected Utilities


Windows XP Slow Startup and Shutdown

Windows Process Viewers Microsoft Power Toys Free Registry Tools Registry Hardening Alternatives to Norton Utilities Scripting in Windows Windows Terminal Services Network Tools for Windows
WSH ArsClip Windows Macrorecoders Keyboard remapping NetDrive Recovery Reinstallation of Windows XP Performance tuning
Undeleting files under Windows Norton Ghost Alternatives to Norton Ghost FAT32 Partitions Data Recovery Disk Repartitioning and Resizing Fighting spyware Windows Integrity Checkers Windows Security
Working with ISO Images Office Excel Windows Powershell NetDrive Tips Humor Etc

This page contains the recommendations for my CS students on how quickly create a budget student laptop with some additional, mostly command line, utilities. They might be slightly outdated (on newer dual core laptops Microsoft Virtual PC is probably a must to have so that you can run Window XP and Suse simultaneously which makes some of recommendations below redundant).

Microsoft will stop providing support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014,

There are several steps in configuring Windows XP desktop with command line tools.  Tools listed below are those tested extensively; most of them I am using for many years.


Here are the steps:

  1. [Optional] Using Partition Magic or Knoppix cut the size of C drive to ~60-80GB. You usually do not need more then that and on a typical for modern laptops 80G drive you will have extra 20G partition is very useful for keeping your documents and greatly simplify reimaging of C-drive (it's a very bad practice to keep everything on the system drive -- first of all this unnecessary enlarges the Ghost image of this drive).

    Also on the second partition you can store the latest Ghost image of C drive which is very convenient when traveling (if you did something wrong you just restore the image and continue working in 15 min, not 15 hours).

  2. Tweak look and feel
  3. Touch pads, as nice as they are, can be a nuisance when trying to type. If your thumb happens to brush the pad while the rest of your hand is typing, the input location within your application may change. That means that the touch pad can be disabled in the operating system if USB mouse is present. There are a couple of options:
    1. On older laptops like C610 there is an option in BIOS for touchpad to be disabled with USB mouse is present.
    2. On newer Dell laptops like D620 if you go to control panel, then mouse, you should have the option of disable touchpad if USB mouse is present. If not something is wrong with either mouse driver or touch pad driver.
  4. Install Cygwin
  5. Install Active Perl and Komodo (or Python is you prefer the latter)
  6. Install Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP (a half-dozen of tools are really useful):
  7. Install Windows 2003 Resource Kit (it is compatible with XP)
  8. Install winxpvirtualcdcontrolpanel_21.exe. This free Microsoft tool for Windows XP lets you create a virtual CD drive on your hard disk. After that you can work with ISO images directly without buring them on Cd/DVD.
  9. OFM managers are really superior file manager for advanced users then Windows Explorer. They really are:
  10. Install NOTEPAD++ -- great free replacement for notepad. Another option is to install Notetab.
  11. Create c:\Arc directory and install 7-zip and info-zip. You might wish also to install RAR.
  12. Install BlueMonkey (rebranded Netscape Messenger; it's very stable but also is a bloatware and stays in memory even after you close it so you need manually delete it from memory when you do not need it -- it just occupies swap space; you can delete it from the registry startup if you wish).
  13. Update IE to version 7 (only for PCs with 512M memory of more; suicidal move for 256M RAM PCs). You might consider Opera as smaller and faster browser but generally IE wins in compatibility.
  14. Install Microsoft Antispyware tool (only if memory is greater then 256M).
  15. Create C:\Utils directory and install hijackthis , PrcView and some integrity checker, for example Integrity Checker by Sara Dean (adequate for watching c:\Windows\System32 directory) and/or MJ Registry Watcher - Version - Last Update 4/4/2009
  16. Install Norton Ghost 2003 (you can use later versions but personally I used to trust only Ghost 2003: it never failed me) or create SystemRescueCd (I switched in 2009 from Ghost 2003 as it shopped recognizing my hardware). Make an image -- full fleged Windows with all components is an intellectual property you do not want to use. And unless you keep documentation many ideas and files can be lost with the list drive. Do it regularly (at least weekly for data at least monthly for C: drive). Don't wait for a disaster happen (some Trojans overwrite files with document related extensions).
  17. Install Office 2003 or earlier version. As a substitute consider Office 2000 (very cheap on eBay) or MS Works (contains MS Word).
  18. Install FoxIt PDF Reader (adequate for most purposes and have smaller foot print; complex forms might need Adobe Acrobat, though).
  19. Install ArsClip. This is a wonderful free clipboard manager.
  20. Install Novell Netdrive (provides FTP pseudo-filesystem; provides with any Windows filemanagers richer functionality that FTP client)
  21. Install Teraterm
  22. Install Filezilla
  23. Install image burning software such as ImgBurn which is free.
  24. Correct path to include C:\Utils directory, Perl and SFU.
  25. Install Workrave for prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
  26. Install RandyRants SharpKeys -- registry hack that permits remapping CapsLock to Alt.
  27. Install VideoLAN -- a very good videoplayer
  28. Install AutoHotkey -- gives you an ability to script launching programs and performing certain actions, for example in Frontpage.
  29. Install Console by bozho It provides tabs among other things, which is very convinient.

    Console is a Windows console window enhancement. Console features include: multiple tabs, text editor-like text selection, different background types, alpha and color-key transparency, configurable font, different window styles

  30. Install clip.exe  from Windows 2003 server

    Quickly Copy Error and Display Messages

    ...copy the CLIP.EXE file from a Windows Server 2003 into your system's path (best if placed in %systemroot%\system32 folder). You can also get the file from HERE (14kb)

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Old News ;-)

Hate the Adobe Acrobat bloatware? Need to read PDF documents ? Get free FoxIt PDF Reader !

[Nov 18, 2011] Mount an ISO image in Windows 7, Windows 8 or Vista

The freeware utility from Microsoft to mount ISO Images doesn't work in Windows 7 or Vista. Thankfully there's another utility that does.

The utility that we will use is called Virtual Clone Drive. This utility will let you mount .ISO, .CCD, .DVD, .IMG, .UDF and .BIN files.

[Oct 30, 2011] Ten years of Windows XP

That was really a smashing success of Microsoft.

Windows XP's retail release was October 25, 2001, ten years ago today. Though no longer readily available to buy, it continues to cast a long shadow over the PC industry: even now, a slim majority of desktop users are still using the operating system.

Windows XP didn't boast exciting new features or radical changes, but it was nonetheless a pivotal moment in Microsoft's history. It was Microsoft's first mass-market operating system in the Windows NT family. It was also Microsoft's first consumer operating system that offered true protected memory, preemptive multitasking, multiprocessor support, and multiuser security.

The transition to pure 32-bit, modern operating systems was a slow and painful one. Though Windows NT 3.1 hit the market in 1993, its hardware demands and software incompatibility made it a niche operating system. Windows 3.1 and 3.11 both introduced small amounts of 32-bit code, and the Windows 95 family was a complex hybrid of 16-bit and 32-bit code. It wasn't until Windows XP that Windows NT was both compatible enough-most applications having been updated to use Microsoft's Win32 API-and sufficiently light on resources.

In the history of PC operating systems, Windows XP stands alone. Even Windows 95, though a landmark at its release, was a distant memory by 2005. No previous PC operating system has demonstrated such longevity, and it's unlikely that any future operating system will. Nor is its market share dominance ever likely to be replicated; at its peak, Windows XP was used by more than 80 percent of desktop users.

The success was remarkable for an operating system whose reception was initially quite muted. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, the media blitz that Microsoft planned for the operating system was toned down; instead of arriving with great fanfare, it slouched onto the market. Retail sales, though never a major way of delivering operating systems to end users, were sluggish, with the operating system selling at a far slower rate than Windows 98 had done three years previously.

It faced tough competition from Microsoft's other operating systems. Windows 2000, released less than two years prior, had won plaudits with its marriage of Windows NT's traditional stability and security to creature comforts like USB support, reliable plug-and-play, and widespread driver support, and was widely adopted in businesses. For Windows 2000 users, Windows XP was only a minor update: it had a spruced up user interface with the brightly colored Luna theme, an updated Start menu, and lots of little bits and pieces like a firewall, UPnP, System Restore, and ClearType. ...

Long in the tooth it may be, but Windows XP still basically works. Regardless of the circumstances that led to its dominance and longevity, the fact that it remains usable so long after release is remarkable. Windows XP was robust enough, modern enough, well-rounded enough, and usable enough to support this extended life. Not only was Windows XP the first (and only) PC operating system that lasted ten years: it was the first PC operating system that was good enough to last ten years. Windows 98 didn't have the security or stability; Windows 2000 didn't have the security or comfort; Mac OS X 10.1 didn't have the performance, the richness of APIs, or the hardware support.

... ... ...

Given current trends, Windows 7 will overtake XP within the next year, with many businesses now moving away from the decade-old OS in earnest. Not all-there are still companies and governments rolling out Windows XP on new hardware-but the tide has turned. Windows XP, with its weaker security and inferior support for modern hardware, is now becoming a liability; Windows 7 is good enough for business and an eminently worthy successor, in a way that Windows Vista was never felt to be.

Ten years is a good run for any operating system, but it really is time to move on. Windows 7 is more than just a solid replacement: it is a better piece of software, and it's a much better match for the software and hardware of today. Being usable for ten years is quite an achievement, but the stagnation it caused hurts, and is causing increased costs for administrators and developers alike. As incredible as Windows XP's longevity has been, it's a one-off. Several factors-the 32-bit transition, the Longhorn fiasco, even the lack of competition resulting from Apple's own Mac OS X transition-conspired to make Windows XP's position in the market unique. We should not want this situation to recur: Windows XP needs to be not only the first ten-year operating system; it also needs to be the last.

Selected comments


"We should not want this situation to recur: Windows XP needs to be not only the first ten-year operating system; it also needs to be the last."

It feels like you completely missed the point.

Stability. Matters.

In today's fast-paced, constantly iterating (not innovating, as they claim) world, "good enough" is an alien concept, a foreign language. Yet we reached "good enough" ten years ago and it shows no signs of ever going away.


OttoResponder wrote: All those words and yet one was missed: monopoly. You can't really talk about XP - or any other Microsoft OS - without talking about the companies anti-competitive practices. For example, the way they strong-armed VARs into selling only Windows... Sure the Bush Administration let them off the hook, but the court's judgement still stands.

Pirated XP is still installed far more than Linux despite being an OS from 2001.

Linux on the desktop has shortcomings and pretending they don't exist won't make them go away.

Microsoft used strong arm tactics but the competition also sucked. I have known many geeks that chose XP over Linux because they found the latter to be too much of a hassle, not because of OEMs or software compatibility.


"Windows XP didn't boast exciting new features". I stopped reading there because that's a load of crap/myth. XP came with a large number of NEW and EXCITING features. Read more about them here: . XP was a very well engineered system that improved by orders of magnitude upon Windows 2000. Its popularity and continued use demonstrate just how well designed the system was. Great compatibility, excellent stability and performance. Security was an Achilles heel but SP2 nailed it and XP became a very good OS.

Windows 7 has some nice features but plenty of regressions too. Windows 7 can't even do basic operations like freely arrange pictures in a folder or not force a sorting order on files. The search is totally ruined for real-time searching, WMP12 is a UI disaster. Service packs and updates take hours to install instead of minutes and can't be slipstreamed into setup files. There's no surround sound audio in games. There is no choice of a Classic Start Menu. Windows Explorer, the main app where I live (instead of living on Facebook) is thoroughly dumbed down.


"Windows XP didn't boast exciting new features or radical changes, but it was nonetheless a pivotal moment in Microsoft's history. It was Microsoft's first mass-market operating system in the Windows NT family. It was also Microsoft's first consumer operating system that offered true protected memory, preemptive multitasking, multiprocessor support, and multiuser security."

Talk about contradictions. First, claim there were no new or exciting features, then list a bunch of them. XP was the first fully 32 bit Windows OS and broke dependence on DOS. I'd say it did offer radical changes for the better. carlisimo | 5 days ago | permalink I'm still on XP, and I'm hesitant about upgrading... I don't like the changes to Windows Explorer at all. dnjake | 5 days ago | permalink How often do you need a new spoken language or a new hammer? When people spend effort learning how to use an operating system and that operating system meets their needs, change is a losing proposition. The quality of Microsoft's work is going down. But Microsoft's quality is still far better than almost any of the low grade work that is standard for the Web. Windows 7 does offer some improvement over XP and it is a more mature operating system. It will be used longer than XP and it remains to be seen how long XP's life will turn out to be. The quality of the Web is still low. Even the most basic forms and security sign in applications are primitive and often broken. It may easily take another decade. But the approach Microsoft is talking about with Windows 8 probably will eventually will provide a mature system based on the HTML DOM as the standard UI. Between that and XAML, it is hard to see why anything more will be needed. The days of ever changing operating systems are drawing to a close.


superslav223 wrote:

Windows 2008R2 is probably safer than RHEL for web hosting.

Really? I'd like to see some results on this.

Quote: IE6 and IE9 might as well be entirely different browsers.

Yes, because they had competition surpassing them. Otherwise you get 5+ years of... nothing.


I am in charge of the PC Deployment team of a Fortune 400 company. I can tell you first hand the nightmare of upgrading to Windows 7. The facts are, legacy apps haven't been upgraded to run on Windows 7, much less Windows 7 64bit. We had the usual suspects, Symantec, Cisco, Citrix all ready for launch, but everyone else drags their feet and we have had to tell our customers, either do away with the legacy app and we can find similar functionality in another application or keep your legacy app and you will be sent an older PC with XP on it (Effectively redeploying what they already have with more memory). Add to that, we are using Office 2010 and it's a complete shell shock to most end users used to Office 2003, though going from 2007 isn't as bad.

On the other hand I do small business consulting and moved over a 10 person office and they were thrilled with Windows 7, as it really took advantage of the newer hardware.

It just depends on the size and complexity of the upgrade. My company just cannot throw away a working OS, when these production applications won't work... Maybe in a perfect IT world


fyzikapan wrote:

The various Linux distros still haven't managed to come up with a solid desktop OS that just works, to say nothing of the dearth of decent applications, and what is there frequently looks and works like some perpetual beta designed by nerds in their spare time.

It's funny b/c it's so very true


Windows XP's longevity is truly remarkable. The article makes a good point in that the strong push towards internet-connected PC's and internet security made running all pre-XP Microsoft desktop OS'es untenable after a few years, especially after Windows XP SP2 released with beefier security.

I personally jumped ship to Vista as soon as I could, because after the stability issues were ironed out within the first 6 months, it was a much smoother, better PC experience than XP (long boot times notwithstanding). Windows 7, which was essentially just a large service pack of Vista sold as a new OS (think OS X releases), was a smoother, more refined Vista.

I believe that Windows 7 is "the new XP", and it will probably still command well over 10% of the desktop market in 5+ years. I believe that for non-touch screen PC's, Windows 7 will be the gold standard for years to come, and that is the vast majority of buisness PC's and home PC's. New builds of Windows 7 boot faster than XP, and run smoother with fewer hiccups. The GPU-accelerated desktop really does run smoother than the CPU driven ones of the past.

Nothing will approach XP's 10-year run, most of that as the dominant desktop OS. The lines between desktop and laptop have been blurred lately as well; Windows 7 and Mac OS X are considered "desktop" OS'es even when they run on laptops. There is a newfound emphasis on mobile OS'es like never before today. More and more people will use Tablet devices as media consumption devices - to surf the net, watch videos, etc. More and more people use computers *while watching TV; it's a trend that is only increasing, and smartphones and tablets make this even easier. ----------

Because Windows 8's "Metro" UI is so touch-focused, I could see it taking off in school usage, laptops, and, of course, tablets in the 201x decade. It will be interesting to see how Windows 8 tablets run when the OS first launches in late 2012; tablet hardware is at least an order of magnitude slower than desktop hardware. Within a few years of Windows 8's launch, however, there may be no perceptible performance difference between Tablet and desktop/laptop usage.


Hagen wrote:

OS X 10.0-10.7 = $704 Windows XP - 7 via upgrades (XP Professional Full - Ultimate - Ultimate) = $780

Windows XP - 7 via full versions (Professional - Ultimate - Ultimate) = $1020

OS X has been cheaper if you were looking for the full experience of Windows each time. I dont' have time to research which of the versions were valid upgrades of each other, b/c that was a super PITA, so I'll just leave that there for others to do.

You're too lazy to do the research for your own comparison?

Ultimate mainly exists for the people that max out laptops because they have nothing better to do with their money. The best feature of Ultimate (bitlocker) has a free alternative (truecrypt).

You certainly don't need Ultimate for the full Windows experience.


DrPizza wrote: I don't even understand the question, particularly not with regard to how it relates to Apple. Apple doesn't give you iterative improvements. It releases big new operating systems that you have to buy.

I think the case can be made that the transition between versions of Windows, traditionally, are a bit larger of a jump than transitions between versions of Mac OS X.

The leap from Windows XP to Windows Vista was quite large; compare that to the changes between Mac OS 10.3 and Mac OS 10.4. Similarly, Vista to 7 looks "more" than 10.4 to 10.5.

While Apple's charging for each point iteration of its operating system and adding new features, most of the underlying elements are essentially the same. They round out corners, remove some brushed metal here and there, change a candy stripe or two, but the visual differences between versions aren't as dramatic.


cactusbush wrote: Yeah, we are obliged to upgrade OS's eventually, when we purchase new hardware. Problem is that Windoze is getting worse - not better. Windoze Vista and 7 -STINK- and the future with Win8 looks even bleaker. My issues revolve around having command and control over my personal machine rather than it behaving like a social machine or by having the OS protect me from the machine's inner workings.

Several previous commentators have already remarked along similar lines, their frustration with Win7&8's isolation and de-emphasis of the file managing 'Explorer' app. - "aliasundercover" listed several Win7 shortcomings; including excessive 'nag screens', less control over where things get put, "piles of irrelevant things run incessantly in the background", the need for the machine to 'Phone Home' constantly and the "copy protection and activation getting meaner".

Years ago the purchase of XP and its new limited installation to only one computer; determined that XP would be my last MS OS purchase. Linux however has not yet blossomed to a desirable point.

MS is developing dumbed down style of operating systems that I don't want and don't like.

1) There is absolutely nothing stopping you from "having command and control" over your personal Windows 7 machine. In fact, Windows 7 provides more and better facilities for automatically starting and managing various tasks.

2) Nag screens can be easily disabled. Moreover, there are multiple settings for these screens. For example, I only see these screens when I install or uninstall software.

3) I don't see how explorer has been "isolated" or "de-emphasized." There are a few UI changes to the program, but most can be reverted to what XP looked like, save for the lack of an "up" button (which can be restored with certain software). Learn to use the new search in the start menu. It will save you a lot of time in the long run.

4) I'm not sure what the "less control over where things get put" complaint is about. Pretty much every program installer allows you to change where programs are installed.

5) Windows 7 runs faster and more efficiently than Windows XP, regardless of background processes.

6) Windows 7 activation has been painless. I don't see why anyone cares about Windows "phoning home" for activation after installation or the copy protection scheme, unless you're a pirate. Buy a copy of Windows 7 for each PC and stop being such a cheap-ass.

Honestly, it sounds like you have had very little actual exposure to Windows 7 and have just picked up complaints from other people. Neither XP nor 7 are perfect OSes, but 7 is leagues above XP in terms of security, performance, and standards. Windows 7 is a modern OS in every sense of the word. XP is an OS that has been patched and updated many times during its lifespan to include features and security it should have had in the first place.


lwatcdr wrote:

Nightwish wrote: That and most people walk into a best buy and get whatever they're told to get having no idea what an OS is or that there's a choice. Enterprise is terrified of change.

Enterprise needs to get work done. Vista had all the problems of a major update with the benefits of a minor update.

I'm left wondering the age of the people spouting this "enterprise is terrified of change" meme.

Seriously. This isn't meant to insult of younger people. It isn't bad to be young. However youth often don't fully grasp the factors that go into the decision making process.

IT departments aren't afraid of change. Change is exactly what keeps them employed and makes their job interesting. You'll find that they usually run the latest and greatest at home, likely have a brand new gadgets, and spend their free time on sites like ars.

So why don't they upgrade? Because upgrading costs time, money, and the devoted attention of people in key rolls. It also results in lost productivity in the short term. The benefits of upgrading must be weighed against the costs of upgrading. But not only that, the upgrade must be weighed against other projects that might help the organization more. Only so much change can be managed and endured simultaneously.

Meanwhile, casual and overly emotional observers pretend that IT departments are sticking with XP because they're lazy or haven't given the topic much thought. Rest assured, migration from XP has been given a ton of attention and the decision of when to leap isn't made lightly.

Great post... I think young people don't fully grasp how important it is to keep those main line of business applications operating.


I love XP and always will. I have been using it for almost 10 years. Got it just after it came out on my first real computer. The Dell Dimension 4100 with 733MHZ Pentium3 and 128MB SDRAM.

Just a few months ago I sold a brand new replacement laptop that I was sent from Dell so that I could buy an older, cheap laptop. A 2006 Inspiron E1405. It has a 1.83GHZ Core Duo, released before even the Core 2 Duos came out, only a 32-bit CPU. I am running XP SP3 on it with 2gigs of RAM and it flies. I run every program that any normal person would. Currently have 13 tabs open in Chrome, Spotift open, some WinExplorer windows, and Word 2010 open. Not a hint of slow down.

XP is just so lean and can be even furtherly leaned out through tons of tweaks.

FOR ANYONE WHO STILL RUNS XP, download an UxTheme.dll patcher so that you can use custom themes!


All this crying about "Holding us back". I say to the contrary, it kept us from moving "Forward". Forward as in needing new hardware every couple of years that in the end gave us NO REAL new functionality, speed, or efficiency. It wasn't until the CORE processors from Intel that there was any NEED for a new OS to take advantage.

Being able to keep working on old hardware that STILL PERFORMED, or being able to upgrade when you FELT like it (instead of being FORCED to because the new crappy whizbang OS brought it to its knees) with results that FLEW was NICE.

Windows 7 is a worthy successor to XP, but that doesn't mean XP wasn't a GREAT OS during its run!

Mr Bil

A few of us are using XP because the 70-250 thousand dollar instrument requires a particular OS to run the software. Upgrading to a new OS (if offered) is a 3 to 14 thousand dollar cost for new controller boards in the PC and the new software, not to mention the additional cost of a new PC. We have two Win98, one WinNT, and three WinXP machines in our lab running instruments.


I just got on the Windows 7 bandwagon a little over a month ago. There are some things I like and some things I don't like. The boot times and shut down times are considerably faster that XP. Also I feel like the entire OS is just much more stable. I never get programs that hang on shut down. It just plain works. I don't care much for the new Windows 7 themes. I immediately went to the Windows Classic theme as soon as I found it. However, I still like the old XP start menu more. It was just more compact and cleaner. I do like the search feature for Windows 7. There are some other things I don't like, like the Explorer automatically refreshing when I rename a file. It's a pointless feature that adds nothing to the experience.

At my job, however, I see no upgrade from XP in sight. I work for a major office supply retailer, and we are hurting financially. We still use the same old Pentium 4 boxes from when I started back in 2003.


What moves people (and companies) to upgrade (or not) their OS ? Basically, 2 things: applications and hardware. For a long time, XP covered this 2 items very well (even in the case of legacy Win-16 or DOS applications in most of the cases, either natively or thru 3rd. party support like DOSBox), so the market felt no big need to change. Microsoft knew this, that's why things like DirectX10 got no support on XP. OTOH, the hardware market evolved to 64 bit platforms, and things like the 3GB address space limit in XP and immature multi core processors support became real problems.

I think that Windows 7 / Windows 8 will spread faster when people and enterprises feel the need to migrate to 64 bit hardware (that was my case, BTW).

[Jun 19, 2010] Graphix an Stuff!

My Batch Files Are Available Here

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A Message From Bold Fortune

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Slimming Down Windows Xp: The Complete Guide 12

Bold_Fortune's Complete Guide To Slimming Down Windows XP

[Mar 14, 2010] Where is the Windows 7 Classic Start Menu

Classic Shell

Classic Shell is free and takes up very little memory. It changes the Windows 7 start menu to classic and it looks exactly the same like what you see in Windows XP. The nice thing about it, besides being totally free, is that when you type the first letter of a program or folder it brings you to the correct menu.

Get it from here:

Classic Shell Files on

[Mar 14, 2010] Console Get Console at Great replacement for cmd.exe

Console is a Windows console window enhancement. Console features include: multiple tabs, text editor-like text selection, different background types, alpha and color-key transparency, configurable font, different window styles

Asterisk Key Software Informer

This review applies to version 8.3 The latest version of this software will soon be reviewed by our informers.

This is a FREE program to reveal asterisk passwords. Usually, programs in Windows have the option to save passwords and these passwords are saved behind asterisks like these ****** in order to protect your passwords from prying eyes. This function makes working with your programs easier and more comfortable. But, as you don't need to write your passwords anymore, you eventually forget them.

If that happens, you can use an utility like Asterisk Key to reveal the passwords saved by your application behind the asterisks. This program runs under Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, 2003, XP and Vista. With this program you can recover passwords from any Windows application using standard asterisk password feature.

You only need to open the program where your password is stored and the Asterisk Key will detect it and show the password in plain text inside its main window. The interface is only available in English but it's intuitive enough and easy to use. This program has two strong points. First, it's FREE. Second, it supports any Windows application, not only Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Some applications like Mozilla Firefox 3 already have an option to show hidden passwords. In the case of Firefox you only need to select that option in Options/Security/Saved Passwords. In fact, showing hidden passwords should be a default option for all programs saving passwords behind asterisks. By the way, if you already have your passwords, save them in a safe place. You never know what you've got till it's gone!

Top Ten Things I Miss in Windows

There is an old saying that goes "you can't miss what you never had" meaning that for those who have never had something of these things they will have no idea what they are missing out on. Typically I use Ubuntu or some Linux flavor as my operating system for every day tasks, however as most techs know using Windows is unavoidable at times. (Whether it be because I am fixing someone else's machine, at work/school, or queuing up some Netflix watch instantly on my home system) That being said the following are the top ten features/programs I find myself grumbling about/missing the most when I am working on the Windows platform:

  1. Klipper/Copy & Paste Manager - I use this one alot when I am either coding or writing a research paper for school. More often than not I find I have copied something new only to discover I need to paste a link or block of code again from two copies back. Having a tray icon where I can recall the last ten copies or so is mighty useful. --[use ArsClip --NNB]
  2. Desktop Notifications - This is something that was first largely introduced in Ubuntu 9.04 and something I quickly grew accustomed to having. Basically it is a small message (notification) the pops up in the upper right hand corner of your screen for a few moments when something happens in one of your programs (a torrent finishes, you get a new instant message, ect.) or you adjust the volume/brightness settings on your system.
  3. "Always on Top" Window Option - This is something I find useful when I am instant messaging while typing a paper, surfing the net, or watching a movie on my computer. Essentially what it does is make sure that the window you have this option toggled on is always at the top of your viewing regardless of what program you have selected/are working in. It is useful because it allows me to read instant messages with out having to click out of something else that I am working on.
  4. Multiple Work Spaces - When I get to really heavy multitasking on a system having multiple different desktops to assign applications to is a god send. It allows for better organization of the different things I am working on and keeps me moving at a faster pace. -- [that can be done with Microsoft Toys --NNB]
  5. Scrolling in the Window/Application the Cursor is Over - This one again is mostly applicable when some heavy multitasking is going on (but hey - its almost 2010, who isn't always doing at least three things at once right?). Basically in Ubuntu/Gnome desktop when I use the scroll on my mouse (whether it is the multi-touch on my track pad or the scroll wheel on my USB mouse) it will scroll in what ever program/window my mouse is currently over instead of only scrolling in what ever application I have selected.
  6. Gnome-Do - Most anyone who uses the computer in their everyday work will tell you that less mouse clicks means faster speed and thus (typically) more productivity. Gnome-Do is a program that allows you to cut down on mouse clicks (so long as you know what program you are looking to load). The jist of what it does is this: you assign a series of hot keys to call up the search bar (personally I use control+alt+space) and then you start typing in the name of an application or folder you want to open and it will start searching for it - once the correct thing is displayed all you need to do is tap enter to load it up. The best part is that it remembers which programs you use most often. Meaning that most times you only need to type the first letter or two of a commonly used application for it to find the one you are looking for.
  7. Tabbed File/Folder Viewing - Internet Explorer finally got tabs! Why can't the default Window's explorer for viewing files/folders join it in the world of twenty-first century computing? Tabs are very useful and are a much cleaner option when sorting through files as opposed to having several windows open on your screen.
  8. Removable Media Should Not Have a Driver Letter
    This guy does not understand Windows well enough to know that you can assign letter statically to USB drives -- NNB

    The system Windows uses for assigning letters to storage devices was clearly invented before flash drives existed and I feel it works very poorly for handling such devices. It is confusing to new computer users that their removable media appears as a different drive letter on most every machine (and even on the same machine sometimes if you have multiple drives attached). A better solution is something like Gnome/KDE/OSX do: have the drive appear as an icon on the desktop and have the name of drive displayed not the drive letter (its fine if the letter still exists - I under stand the media needs a mount point, just it adds confusion displaying this letter instead of the drive name)

Posted by Jeff91


Anonymous said...
Gnome-Do: try launchy.
December 17, 2009 5:33 PM

Anonymous said...

Alt+F2, the lancelot launcher in kde4 and the always on top window feature (and generally better window management under

I can execute firefox from Alt+F2 faster than finding it in the start menu and I like the way lancelot launches the menu from a mouse hover, in windows I look like a newb sitting there with my mouse for a few seconds before I remember to click on the start button

December 18, 2009 5:25 AM

vizigr0u said...

5) Gnome-do You must be kidding right ?
Since Vista, the exact same thing is built-in, and the shortcut isn't a 3 keys shortcut, it's just about openning the Start Menu, so the Window Key will do fine.
December 18, 2009 7:03 AM
Anonymous said...
Many of these things can be solved with add-ons to Windows. However, I don't use most of those add-ons due to the fact that those add-ons take resources. I find Windows to be resource-intensive enough.

I do miss multiple workspaces for Windows. Microsoft has a Power Toys implementation for XP that I haven't tried yet.

I use Cygwin for UNIX-like tools plus Emacs. These two additions to Windows allows me to be much more productive when I'm working in a Windows environment. I don't know if either works for Windows/Vista or Windows/7 since I use the tools on Windows/XP.

Some applications implement an 'Always on Top' capability, but most don't. I think that this option would be useful when IM'ing someone while talking about code or helping someone with a computing task.

December 18, 2009 7:24 AM

exain said...

Bang on. I totally agree with the points you've mentioned.

I wanted to add ALT+left click to move the windows. Extremely handy to quickly move the window away or put it in focus where you need it. I keep doing it in Windows and then realize that I'm not on my system.

I use parcellite instead of klipper and no wobbly windows. Talking about workspaces, if you don't use compiz and use metacity (with composting enabled for special effects), then you can drag your windows to another workspace from the taskbar only. No need to right click on the title bar or to ALT+right click and select the workspace.

December 18, 2009 7:38 AM

lefty.crupps said...

I miss KDE when using Windows. I miss KDE's KRunner ([alt][f2] launcher thing) and its capabilities. I miss KDE's awesome KIO-slaves for access to network file systems with smb:/ and sftp:/ and others. I miss KDE's great apps. I miss, in addition to Always On Top, the other settings I can do with KWin such as assign an app to always use a specific desktop, or placement. I miss the hightlight-to-copy, middle-click-to-paste that X has. I miss the great command line that Linux has.... yeah there is a lot I miss when on a Windows machine. One of many reasons I avoid them!
December 18, 2009 7:39 AM

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention:

1) useful applications pre-installed

2) system utilities which do NOT time out after 60 days. This one is my favorite, when someone tries asking me ("computer guy") why their CD burner or photo manager "stopped working"... takes a look... hmm, a dialog box writtein in English, saying you need to purchase this software now that the trial ended.


December 18, 2009 7:51 AM

Corfy said...

I use VirtuaWin on my Windows computer to fix both 8 and 7. Yes, it is a third-party add-on, but having those abiliities more than makes up for any resources it uses. Granted, it isn't perfect (sometimes the program moves desktops when I don't want it to), but I couldn't use Windows without it anymore.

Oh, and the XP PowerTool provided by Microsoft is a joke. Yes, you can get four desktops, but you have two choices.... either don't move your programs from one desktop to another or have all of your programs on all of your desktops.

December 18, 2009 8:25 AM

Frank said...

I miss the 'click window header with middle button' feature that sends the window to the back, behind all the others.
December 18, 2009 9:34 AM

[Nov 14, 2009] CodeSnippets Windows' command prompt How to DEFINITELY change default codepage

Want to use WinLatin1 (1252) instead of DOSLatin1 (850, default when cmd.exe is started) ?

You want to apply the new codepage to :
- the current opened command prompt

C:\> chcp 1252
- all the opened command prompt in the future
Go to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Nls\CodePage]
And change the "OEMCP" value to "1252"
You need to restart your computer to see the changes.

So you'll be able to display extended characters (such as accents and so on)


Don't know how to check the command prompt's codepage ?

C:\> chcp

[Oct 24, 2009] A Tale of Two Windows 7s


Windows 7 improves things *just* enough for me to have little moments of 'ooh, that's nice', which is something missing from XP and Vista.

For the first time ever in a new Windows installation I didn't feel compelled to immediately set up my video drivers. Everything worked smoothly enough. Of course, I did eventually load them up, but it didn't even require a reboot. Needless to say, I'm very pleased with Windows 7 so far.

You can see whether your current passwords are rated "strong" by using Microsoft's online Password Checker. And you might be surprised by the results. A strong password should be minimum 8 characters or longer and include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

For tips on how to create passwords and pass phrases that are easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. a strong password checklist, and more, read Strong passwords: How to create and use them.

Microsoft discounts Windows 7 Home Premium to $50; deal to last two weeks By Gregg Keizer


For two weeks starting Friday, Microsoft will pre-sell Windows 7 upgrades for as little as $50.

"As a way of saying thanks to our loyal Windows customers, we are excited to introduce a special limited time offer," Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc said in an entry to a company blog early Thursday.

Microsoft offered a similar deal prior to the launch of Windows Vista three years ago.

"For customers in the U.S., Canada and Japan, starting tomorrow on June 26, they will be able to pre-order a copy of Windows 7 for delivery on October 22 of either Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional," said Brad Brooks, vice president for Windows consumer marketing, in a video interview posted alongside LeBlanc's blog post. "[For] Home Premium in the U.S., pricing will be $49.99, and the Professional version will be $99.99."

Those figures represent a reduction of between 50% and 58% from the standard list prices for the upgrade editions of Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional. Orders can be placed with participating retailers, such as Best Buy and, or at Microsoft's own online store.

The pre-order discount prices are valid from June 26 through July 11 in the U.S. and Canada, but end July 5 in Japan. Customers in the U.K., France and Germany will be offered similar pre-order discounts starting July 15, said LeBlanc.

[Oct 9, 2009] Mac OS X and Linux Fail to Compare to Vista - In terms of growth - Softpedia

While the verdict is still out on Windows Vista, Microsoft's latest operating system, in combination with its predecessor, Windows XP, managed to keep Windows users off limits for both Mac OS X and Linux. It is becoming somewhat of a generalized perception that Vista is not all the Redmond company promised, and far from the $500 million Wow advertised across the world in early 2007. Hardware and software incompatibility issues, lack of driver support and of dedicated software products and devices, poor performance and reliability are among the problems that plagued Vista since the operating system hit the market in November 2006 and in January 2008.

And while it sounds like Windows Vista delivered an unexpected window of opportunity for the increase in adoption of Mac OS X and Linux, the fact of the matter is that the two rival platforms have almost flatlined in terms of uptake in 2007. According to statistics provided by Market Share by Net Applications, starting in December 2006 and through September 2007, Linux doubled its market share. This detail would sound nothing short of promising, except for the fact that the doubling in market share is equivalent to a jump from 0.37% to 0.81%. In the past month, the open source operating system only increased its footprint on the market by 0.4%, from 0.77% to 0.81%.

The growth of Mac OS X is more consistent compared to that of Linux. But then again, Apple's operating system is the beneficiary of an excellently marketed platform, from the small, and not at all anodyne design details, to the pluses inherent with a closed business environment. In this context, Apple's biggest advantage is also Mac OS X's Achille's heel, as proprietary hardware is regarded as less accessible than personal computers. The combined market shares of Mac OS and Mac Intel, as published by Market Share by Net Applications, reveal a jump from 5.67% in December of last year to 6.61% in September 2007. In the past two months, Mac OS X grew from 6.15% to 6.61%.

Windows Vista, with all its overcriticized faults, evolved from 0.16% in December 2006 to 7.38% at the end of the last month. During the same period, Windows XP dropped from 85.30% to 79.32%, a percentage slips which makes it obvious that XP users upgraded/migrated to Vista and not to Mac OS X and Linux. While of course there is also a small segment that did in fact made the jump to the two alternative platforms, it is clear that the vast majority of XP users remain loyal to the Windows brand.



These are sales figures taken from retail channel sales, which ignore the fact that FAR MORE copies of Linux are downloaded for free from distro mirrors than are purchased through the retail channels That "doubling" probably represents Ubuntu sales through DELL, if you trust the figures, which I don't. They too often reflect the wishes of MS.

If the retail sales have doubled I would wager that the download channel count has MORE THAN DOUBLED, and by all accounts it was at 5-10% of desktop market share before VISTA. I know that the number of new users, who said they had just left Windows, now on the PCLinuxOS forum has at least quadroupoled since VISTA's release.

[Jan 26, 2009] VideoLAN - Free and Open Source software and video streaming solutions for every OS!

VideoLAN is a software project, which produces free and open source software for video, released under the GNU General Public License.
Learn more about the VideoLAN project.

Our main software is the cross-platform VLC media player.

We are also hosting x264 and other projects.

About VLC media player

VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.
It doesn't need any external codec or program to work.

[Jun 20, 2008] WindowsPager

A similar application is Virtual Desktop Manager from Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP

WindowsPager is a desktop-switcher/pager for Windows Vista/7/XP/2000 to manage 'virtual' workspaces/desktops. It will integrate smoothly into the desktop panel.

Features: Report bugs and feature request to the Forum
Author: © 2007, 2008, 2009 Jochen Baier, [email protected]
Licence: GPL Version 2
Download (source and executable)

[Apr 18, 2008] CoScripter

A useful Firefox plug-in

CoScripter is a system for recording, automating, and sharing processes performed in a web browser such as printing photos online, requesting a vacation hold for postal mail, or checking flight arrival times. Instructions for processes are recorded and stored in easy-to-read text here on the CoScripter web site, so anyone can make use of them. If you are having trouble with a web-based process, check to see if someone has written a CoScript for it!

[Mar 24, 2008] Workrave

Great free (GPL) program for too enthusiastic programmers, Unix and web administrators or computer users who can hurt themselves by acquiring Repetitive Strain Injury. Hat tip to the developers directly: Rob Caelers (Core features, Debian packaging, Linux version, ...), and Raymond Penners (Graphical user interface, W32 port, ...). You guys really rock !!!

Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit. Please refer to the feature comparison for a complete list of features, and how the program performs with respect to other programs on the market. The program runs on GNU/Linux and Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft's Ballmer On Windows Server, Yahoo, Linux -- Microsoft -- InformationWeek

InformationWeek: I think you see VMware aggressively courting virtualization customers. Customers that I've spoken with are saying Microsoft is definitely coming from behind here. You mentioned it on stage here. There's Hyper-V's delay. Does Microsoft's entrance now into the virtualization space put it at a disadvantage in the virtualization world?

Ballmer: The choice is, you know, to be first to have share or not. I guess I prefer to be first to have share. Now, you've got to remember, this market has barely been scratched, less probably in the install base -- less than 5% of all systems run virtually. Virtualization is way too complicated, way too expensive today for people to take advantage of it, and it's way too isolated from the rest of everything that happens in application development to data center deployment and operations. That's not my way of criticizing, it's just if we're going to get -- if the phenomenon is going to fully take effect, then we've got to democratize it. That might be VMware, [but] they haven't shown moves in that direction. Somebody could argue it might be one of the open source alternatives. I like what we've got. I think we pay out on those problems.

That doesn't mean the other guys are going to go away. Obviously we recognize that fact and we provide good interoperability with VMware's virtual machine. But I don't think -- there's a simplicity with performance, with management, integrated management, with everything else, I think we're going to make a real difference. Sure, I wish we had everything we're announcing now and shipping this year a year ago, sure. Two years ago? Sure. But, believe me. We're going to make a big difference.

The fact of the matter is Linux isn't much cheaper to use than Microsoft, in terms of initial expense, continued support, or even in terms of development.

What Linux excels in is its large community of free, and sometimes paid developers to fix problems corrected more quickly than a single company can possible achieve. When you take Linus' recent comments into account, about him never caring or running a Linux server, only being focused on the desktop, one has to really wonder what how it can possibly compete with commercial giants like Sun and Microsoft.

What Microsoft excels in is their world-class support and a quality product at a reasonable price with an enormous ecosystem and unlimited developmental budget.

The commercial Linux vendors, Red Hat and Suse, can't offer the ecosystem Microsoft does, nor the leverage it has with its developers or vendors. The non-commercial Linux distributions are fun to play with, but totally impractical for business use.

The war goes on... Linux and most significantly Solaris are taking a bad beating. Once MS goes full bore in the virtualization space, it's going to blow Linux, Solaris and VMWare out of the market entirely, because of its massive commitment in research and functionality.

Finally, if MS doesn't like how its being treated in the US or Europe for that matter, it might just decide to stop selling to those markets -- where would that leave customers?

... ... ...

Ballmer: "I used to always joke with IBM, you know, we were opening up the desktop to them, and they were opening up the mainframe and the data center to us. And who out-hustled who is a big deal in terms of who wins."

[Feb 29, 2008] Project details for Key Scripter

Key Scripter listens to key press/release events from a keyboard device and sends fake key events to an X display. It supports gaming keypads such as the Nostromo SpeedPad and allows the creation and usage of complicated key scripts for games and other applications.

Release focus: Major feature enhancements

This release also supports Windows. A Win32 binary has been added to the download packages. To compile the source files on Windows, the latest release of MinGW is required. Additionally, this release fixes a few memory allocation bugs, adds support for wildcard binds, and provides improvements to debug messages. The example configuration file has been extended with extra features.

Andrei Romanov [contact developer]

[Feb 24, 2008] The Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy - and Their Open Source Alternatives WHDb

The list itself is almost useless as the author has no clue about capabilities of most programs he listed but comments contain a lot of useful information from people who did used the programs they mentioned:
emptyset Says:
February 8th, 2008 at 1:16 pm

I'm surprised no one mentioned MPlayer. It runs on *nix/OS-X/Windows and plays FLV and that Real player crap that may still be laying around on your HDD… and it plays just about everything else too.

Danny Says:
February 8th, 2008 at 1:33 pm

I like OpenProj as an alternative to MS Project. OpenProj can open and work with MS Project files:

Sam Says:
February 8th, 2008 at 1:54 pm

I used to use Bluefish, but now I use Geany. I love EditPlus on Windows, Geany is a very nice alternative. My favorite feature is regex search/replace across multiple files.

Instead of NVU I would suggest Radria Its active, i've been using it for sometime and I love it.

[Feb 7, 2008] NOTEPAD++

It is a really good replacement for Notepad. Highly recommended.

Notepad++ is a free (free as in "free speech", but also as in "free beer") source code editor and Notepad replacement, which supports several programming languages, running under the MS Windows environment.

This project, based on the Scintilla edit component (a very powerful editor component), written in C++ with pure win32 api and STL (that ensures the higher execution speed and smaller size of the program), is under the GPL Licence.

This project is mature. However, as you can see it's a one-man-project, there are still some bugs and missing features. If you have any question or suggestion about this project, please post them on the forums. As well, if you have any feature requests, you can always make the demand, but there's no guarantee that I'll implement it.

You're encouraged to translate Notepad++ (if it is not present in the Download Section) and/or to translate the Notepad++ official site into your native language.

I hope you enjoy Notepad++ as much as I enjoy coding it.

Here are the features of Notepad++ :

Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding
Supported languages :
C C++ Java C# XML HTML
PHP CSS makefile ASCII art (.nfo) doxygen ini file
batch file Javascript ASP VB/VBS SQL Objective-C
RC resource file Pascal Perl Python Lua TeX
TCL Assembler Ruby Lisp Scheme Properties
Diff Smalltalk Postscript VHDL Ada Caml
AutoIt KiXtart Matlab Verilog Haskell InnoSetup
If you have a colour printer, print your source code (or whatever you want) in colour.
User Defined Syntax Highlighting
It allows user to define his own language : not only the syntax highlighting keywords, but also the syntax folding keywords, comment keywords and the operators. ( screenshot1, screenshot2, screenshot3, screenshot4 ).
For most supported languages, user can make his/her own API list (or download the api files from dowload section). Once the api file is ready, type Ctrl+Space to launch this action (see screenshot). For more information about Auto-completion, please see Auto-completion HOWTO.
You can edit several documents at the same time.
You have two views at same time. That means you can visualize (edit) 2 different documents at the same time (screenshot). You can visualize (edit) in the 2 views one document at 2 different positions as well. The modification of document in one view will carry out in another view (i.e. you modify the SAME document when you are in clone mode, see screenshot).
Regular Expression Search/Replace supported
You can search and replace one string in the document by using the regular expression.
Full Drag 'N' Drop supported
You can open a document by drag & drop. You can also move your document from a position (or even a view) to another by drag & drop.
Dynamic position of Views
The user can set the position of the views dynamically (only in 2 views mode : the splitter can be set in horizontal or in vertical), see screenshot.
File Status Auto-detection
If you modify or delete a file which opened in Notepad++, you will be notified to update your document (reload the file or remove the file).
Zoom in and zoom out
That's another fantastic function of Scintilla component. Just see screenshot.
Multi-Language environment supported
The Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic and Hebrew Windows environments are supported. See Notepad++ under the Chinese Windows , under the Arabic Windows and under the Hebrew Windows in action screenshot.
User can just click on the bookmark margin (located right side of line number margin) or type Ctrl+F2 to toggle a book mark. To reach the bookmark, type just F2 (Next bookmark) or Shift+F2 (Previous bookmark). To clear all bookmarks, click the Menu Search->Clear All bookmarks. See screenshot.
Brace and Indent guideline Highlighting
When the caret stay beside of one of those symbol { } [ ] ( ) , the symbol beside of caret and its symmetric opposite symbol will be highlighted, as well as the indent guideline (if any) in order to locate the block more easily. See screenshot1, screenshot2 .
Macro recording and playback

[Jan 31, 2008] DupFinder gui 0.12 / console 0.92 by Matthias Boehm

About: DupFinder searches for duplicate files. It has many options that allow you to include only the files that you want. A special algorithm makes it much faster than other programs. A GUI and a command line version are available.

[Dec 3, 2007] UnxUtils

Port of common GNU utilities to native Win32. In this context, native means the executables do only depend on the Microsoft C-runtime (msvcrt.dll) and not an emulation layer like that provided by Cygwin tools.

[Nov 25, 2007] AutoHotkey - Free Mouse and Keyboard Macro Program with Hotkeys and AutoText Nice addition to windows.

AutoHotkey is a free, open-source utility for Windows. With it, you can:

Getting started might be easier than you think. Check out the quick-start tutorial.

More About Hotkeys

AutoHotkey unleashes the full potential of your keyboard, joystick, and mouse. For example, in addition to the typical Control, Alt, and Shift modifiers, you can use the Windows key and the Capslock key as modifiers. In fact, you can make any key or mouse button act as a modifier. For these and other capabilities, see Advanced Hotkeys.

Other Features

License: GNU General Public License

[Sep 10, 2007] How To Manage Environment Variables in Windows XP

If you installed Cygwin then you can use most utilities from command line provided that they are in the PATH
You must be an administrator to modify a system environment variable. System environment variables are defined by Windows and apply to all computer users. Changes to the system environment are written to the registry, and usually require a restart to become effective.

Any user can add, modify, or remove a user environment variable. These variables are established by Windows XP Setup, by some programs, and by users. The changes are written to the registry, and are usually effective immediately. However, after a change to user environment variables is made, any open software programs should be restarted to force them to read the new registry values. The common reason to add variables is to provide data that is required for variables that you want to use in scripts.

To view or change environment variables:

1. Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.

2. Click the Advanced tab.

3. Click Environment variables.

4. Click one the following options, for either a user or a system variable:

• Click New to add a new variable name and value.
• Click an existing variable, and then click Edit to change its name or value.
• Click an existing variable, and then click Delete to remove it.

[Sept 4, 2007] Great Free Files 20 Fantastic Open Source Downloads

I personally found Filezilla useful in case you need to download a lot of files or a huge file to your ISP and connection is not stable. It has option to restart on error. 7-zip is a competitor to Rar.

FTP lives! This file transfer protocol may seem old-fashioned and ancient, but the truth is, it's often the simplest way to transfer files between PCs, or between a PC and a server.

It's especially useful for transferring large files, because ISPs often block e-mail attachments over a certain size. And it's great for transferring groups of files. FileZilla has just about every FTP feature you need. It's a breeze to set up and edit new FTP connections.

The interface is particularly easy to use, so that you can easily navigate external FTP servers and your local hard drive, and transfer files between then. You can also use multiple simultaneous connections to speed up file transfers. Windows includes a built-in archiving utility that can compress and decompress files in the .Zip format, but it's nobody's idea of particularly useful.


If you need to do more than the most basic of archiving tasks with the Windows zip tool, you're out of luck. 7-Zip comes to the rescue. It offers you considerable power over compressed archive creation and extraction, including several different archive formats and compression methods and levels, and lets you create encrypted, password-created archives.

The interface is quite configurable, and can even create a two-pane view, which is rare in archiving programs.


Think your home or small office wireless network is safe? Do you have any idea whether any intruders are on it? This free program is a great way to find out.

Run it on a PC attached to your network via Ethernet. (The program won't work in Windows Vista, so you'll need Windows XP.) When you run it, it immediately does a network scan, finding the wireless and wired devices attached to it. For each device, it lists the unique MAC address (a kind of serial number), the IP address, the manufacturer if it can figure it out, and model number if it can find that. It also tells you what kind of device it is, such as a router, printer, PC, and so on. And it will also flag any suspect devices it finds.

Just compare the information it finds to what you know of your network. If there are any wireless devices connected that you don't know about, you may have an intruder.

[Aug 18, 2007] How to disable touchpad in laptop

This is a simple remedy for the erratic movement of cursor. On most laptops you can also disable the touchpad from the BIOS setup [press F2 or del when the computer starts to enter BIOS settings].
There are no keyboard shortcuts available for this setting. Moreover some laptops coming now are having a button for locking the touchpad when needed. That might be much helpful as you cant go to control panel every time you type. You can create a shortcut of mouse properties somewhere in your quick launch or start menu for doing the above procedure in a faster way.

[Aug 17, 2007] Setting up a Notebook versus a Desktop

[Aug 16, 2007] Favorite Utilities Mount .iso files under windows XP

Readme for Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel v2.0.1.1


System Requirements
- Windows XP Home or Windows XP Professional

Installation instructions
1. Copy VCdRom.sys to your %systemroot%\system32\drivers folder.
2. Execute VCdControlTool.exe
3. Click "Driver control"
4. If the "Install Driver" button is available, click it. Navigate to the %systemroot%\system32\drivers folder, select VCdRom.sys, and click Open.
5. Click "Start"
6. Click OK
7. Click "Add Drive" to add a drive to the drive list. Ensure that the drive added is not a local drive. If it is, continue to click "Add Drive" until an unused drive letter is available.
8. Select an unused drive letter from the drive list and click "Mount".
9. Navigate to the image file, select it, and click "OK". UNC naming conventions should not be used, however mapped network drives should be OK.

You may now use the drive letter as if it were a local CD-ROM device. When you are finished you may unmount, stop, and remove the driver from memory using the driver control.

For a more completed tutorial (including how to make an ISO from a CD) click here. The article explains making an ISO using Nero - however, I prefer BurnAtOnce which is donationware.

[Aug 10, 2007] - Disable CD Autorun in XP Home

To Disable CD autoplay, completely, in Windows XP Pro
  1. Click Start, Run and enter GPEDIT.MSC
  2. Go to Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, System.
  3. Locate the entry for Turn autoplay off and modify it as you desire.

How to Disable the Feature That Allows CD-ROMs and Audio CDs to Run Automatically

How to Disable the Feature That Allows CD-ROMs and Audio CDs to Run Automatically

To disable the feature that allows CD-ROMs and audio CDs to run automatically:

[Jul 20, 2007] HOW-TO Map a drive to your FTP server - Engadget

you can map an ftp or webdav server as a network drive in XP without having to use any such tool - it's built into the OS! from My Computer, find "Map Network Drive" in the Tools menu. A window will pop up asking for a drive letter and a folder, and at the bottom is a link reading "Sign up for online storage or connect to a network server." click that link, select "Choose another network location" from the Add Network Place Wizard, and follow the wizard's prompts to add the location and login information. Simple.

[Jul 20, 2007] Novell's NetDrive

This is better than using "My Network Places" for ftp because you can edit files in place on the remote site. Has to make your favorite ftp client obsolete.
A free implementation that lets you map your FTP server just like a local drive. This is great application that permit you to manage you FTP site as if it is a local drive. It does not need Novell client to be available: this is a standalone application. Licensing restrictions keep Novell from distributing netdrive.exe on their web site so you will need to find it using Google or other search engine. It used to available from several university sites, but as program grow older the number of such sites disappeared. Here is one link that was active at the time or last correction of the page (Google is your friend and with search string "Netdrive 4.1" you can do wonders :-)

Download the program from HERE. Double click and follow the instructions to install the program. Once the program is installed, open the program (Start->Programs->NetDrive->NetDrive) and click new site.

Here is step-by-step tutorial for setting up NetDrive.

[Jul 11, 2007] Disable CD autoplay in Windows XP Home

Windows AutoPlay is pretty annoying feature which allows for a program contained on a CD to be run when it is placed into the drive and read by Windows.
To disable the CD autoplay feature, use the following Windows XP registry hack:

Key: SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\Explorer
Name: NoDriveTypeAutoRun
Value: 181 hex 0x0b5

[Jul 11, 2007] Disabling Autoplay in XP Home editions

Disable CD autoplay in Windows XP Pro

It is safest to disable CD autoplay in XP using either local group policy or, for an enterprise, an Active Directory group policy. The local group policy editor method:
  • Click Start
  • Click Run
  • Enter GPEDIT.MSC
    Group Policy mmc will popup. On left panel:
  • Double-click Computer Configuration to open submenu
  • Double-click Administrative Templates to open submenu
  • Double-click System to open submenu
  • Double-click Turn autoplay off option which will be near the bottom of the list in the right panel.
The default is the Not configured . Set it to Enabled.

Relate tips:

How do I really disable auto-play in Windows XP - Ask Leo!

TweakUI, one of what Microsoft calls "Power Toys for Windows XP". It's more than a toy. It allows you to adjust (or 'tweak') several settings that aren't exposed directly by the Windows tools.

Once you've installed TweakUI you'll find a lot of options in it. For our current problem, in TweakUI expand My Computer, and then AutoPlay. Click on Drives and uncheck the drive letter that you no longer want to AutoPlay. Click on Apply and that's it. No more "what would you like me to do" dialogs.

TweakUI has a number of other settings, I encourage you to install it and browse around in it. It's something I install on every computer I run. (The PowerToys page has a number of useful tools, have a look while you're there). - Turn Off the CD-ROM Autorun

Windows XP - Solution 1

Windows XP - Solution 2

[Jul 10, 2007] Opera (Internet suite) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Opera also has IRC chat client.

Opera 9 is packaged with a torrent plugin, so BitTorrent downloads can be handled just like regular HTTP/FTP downloads.

It is notable in the face of criticisms of rendering accuracy, that Opera 9.0 passes the Acid2 rendering test by the Web Standards Project, which is designed to test compliance with the latest HTML, CSS and other web standards.[26] Browsers such as Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 do not pass this test.

[Jun 27, 2007] The Old New Thing The history of the Windows PowerToys

The history of the Windows PowerToys

During the development of Windows 95, as with the development of any project, the people working on the project write side programs to test the features they are adding or to prototype a feature. After Windows 95 shipped, some of those programs were collected into the first edition of the Windows 95 Power Toys.

As I recall, the first edition contained the following toys:

This was a handy internal tool which also served as a test of the shell folder design.

CDAutoPlay, DeskMenu, FlexiCD, QuickRes
These were side toys originally written by shell developers for their own personal use.

Command Prompt Here, Explore From Here
These were proof-of-concept toys which tested the shell command extension design.

Round Clock
This was a program to test regional windows.

Shortcut Target Menu
This was a feature idea that didn't quite make it.

I wasn't around when the decision was made to package these toys up and ship them, so I don't know what the rule was for deciding what was PowerToy-worthy and what wasn't. Nor do I know where the name PowerToy came from. (Probably somebody just made it up because it sounded neat.)

Upon the enormous success of the PowerToys, a second edition was developed. This time, people knew that they were writing a PowerToy, as opposed to the first edition of the PowerToys which was merely cobbled together from stuff lying around. The second edition of the Windows 95 PowerToys added FindX, Send To X, the Telephony Locator Selector, XMouse, and Tweak UI.

Later, the kernel team released their own set of toys, known as the Windows 95 Kernel Toys. Alas, the original blurb text is not on the Microsoft downloads site, but here's an archived copy. (In reality, it was I who wrote all of the Kernel Toys, except for the Time Zone Editor, which came from the Windows NT Resource Kit. I also wrote the somewhat whimsical original blurb.)

This was all back in the day when it was easy to put up something for download. No digital signatures, no virus checking, no paperwork. Just throw it up there and watch what happens. Today, things are very different. Putting something up for download is a complicated process with forms to fill out in triplicate and dark rooms with card readers. I wouldn't be surprised if an abandoned salt mine in Montana were somehow involved.

Nowadays, every team at Microsoft seems to have their own PowerToys, trading on the good name of the Windows shell team who invented the whole PowerToys idea. (As far as I can tell, we don't get any royalties from other divisions calling their toys "PowerToys".) A quick check reveals the following PowerToys available for download from Microsoft; I may have missed some.

(Plus, of course, the Windows XP PowerToys, which does come from the shell team. The Internet Explorer team originally called their stuff PowerToys, but they later changed the name to Web Accessories, perhaps to avoid the very confusion I'm discussing here.)

What's frustrating is that since they are all called "PowerToys", questions about them tend to go to the shell team, since we are the ones who invented PowerToys. We frequently have to reply, "Oh, no, you're having a problem with the XYZ PowerToys, not the classic Windows PowerToys. We're the folks who do the classic Windows PowerToys."

Even the blog name "PowerToys" has been co-opted by the Visual Studio team to promote their Powertoys for Visual Studio 2003.

Some people claim that Tweak UI was written because Microsoft got tired of responding to customer complaints. I don't know where they got that from. Tweak UI was written because I felt like writing it.

That page also says that sometimes PowerToys vanish without warning. That's true. A few years ago, all the Windows XP PowerToys were taken down so they could be given a security review. Some of them didn't survive and didn't come back. Other times, a PowerToy will be pulled because a serious bug was found. Since PowerToys are spare-time projects, it can take a very long time for a bug to get fixed, tested, and re-published. For example, the HTML Slide Show Wizard was pulled after a (somewhat obscure) data-loss bug was found. Fixing the bug itself took just a few days, but testing and filling out all the associated paperwork took six months.

There's no moral to this story. Just a quick history lesson.

Published Wednesday, February 02, 2005 7:00 AM by oldnewthing

Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP


With new sources of files coming from every direction (such as digital cameras, e-mail, cell phones, portable media players, camcorders, PDAs, and laptops), SyncToy can help you copy, move, and synchronize different directories. Download or learn more.

[Jun 26, 2007] Data Recovery First Aid 3 tips to increase your chances of success SoftwareTalks

Tip #1: Use your system as little as possible until you recover all of your lost files. The more activity taking place on your hard disk, the greater the chance that some of your lost data might be written over.

- Don't copy any files to the disk containing your lost data;
- Avoid browsing the web, because your web browser saves cache files on the disk;
- Don't launch any unnecessary programs, because they can also use your disk;
- Don't restart your computer.

Tip #2: Before you go further, take steps to free up some space on the disk containing your lost files. The more free space your system has, the less chance of overwriting any lost files with new ones. You can do one or more of the following things.

- Delete old files that you don't need anymore (you can also move them to another source, like a USB flash drive, instead of deleting);
- Empty your Recycle Bin - making sure that you haven't put any important files in there by mistake;
- Empty your browser cache. For Internet Explorer, click on the "Tools" menu, then select "Internet Options". Then, on the "General" tab, click the "Delete Files…" button.

Tip #3: To install any software after data damage increases the risk of your data being overwritten, so if you haven't had any data problems yet, consider installing a data recovery program just in case. Prevention is always better than cure, and a recovery program is good insurance for your data. However, if you don't yet have a recovery program, find one and - if possible - avoid installing it to the disk where your lost files are located.

Most recovery programs work fairly similarly. You need to select the disk where the lost files are located, let the program analyze the content of the disk - this can take a while - and then select the file you want to recover. Then, provide a location where you want to save that file. You should try to avoid recovering files to the same disk. You could use another hard drive, a network or removable media like a floppy disk or USB flash drive.

Windows Powertools (exe), from Vivek Narayanan - Software Downloads - TechRepublic

Overview: Windows Powertools is a collection of powerful and easy to use tools for your Windows PC which can be used to speed up your PC and help you stay in control of it. Features: Clear your cache and make your PC faster. Compress your disk drives (New) .Ping your Internet connection and prevent your ISP from disconnecting you. Define startup programs and prevent unwanted application on startup. Edit your registry. Clear boot sector and do drive cleanup, and make your computer faster. Defragment drives and make your PC 2 to 3x faster. Monitor running tasks and kill unwanted tasks. Convert FAT32 volumes to NTFS within 5 minutes. Version 1.3 may include unspecified improvements, enhancements, and bug fixes.

[Mar 11, 2007] Remote Desktop Connection Software

Remote Desktop in Windows XP Professional provides remote access to the desktop of your computer running Windows XP Professional, from a computer at another location. Using Remote Desktop you can, for example, connect to your office computer from home and access all your applications, files, and network resources as though you were in front of your computer at the office.

[Feb 8, 2007] Microsoft tweaks IE7

In my experience with early versions of IE7 is that it is not stable. Moreover it is bloated slow and buggy. Sometimes it is unable even to load a webpage -- IE7 reports DNS error instead. Refresh helps but this is a very annoying problem...

February 08, 2007 (IDG News Service) -- Microsoft Corp. has quietly released a patch aimed at improving the performance of Internet Explorer 7's phishing filter ahead of the company's regular patching schedule, which occurs on the second Tuesday of every month.

The update was made available last week on on Microsoft's Web site, according to a blog entry on IEBlog, which is written by the IE team at Microsoft.

This update addresses an issue some users experience when navigating to a page with multiple frames, or where frames are being navigated simultaneously, according to the post by IE Program Manager Steve Reynolds. This kind of navigation occurs when the IE phishing filter, which attempts to block access to sites that may try to defraud Web users, evaluates a Web page when a user navigates to it. The result is multiple simultaneous evaluations for the same page, Reynolds wrote in his post.

In addition to being available on Microsoft's Web site now, the patch will also be released later this month for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Phishing filter performance is not the only complaint IE7 users have had since the final version was released in October. Frequent crashes and other performance problems such as excessive memory consumption that results in slow page loads have been reported.

[Feb 8, 2007] Google releases customized version of IE7

December 15, 2006 Internet Explorer 7 browser in which Google, not Windows Live Search, is the default search engine.

The customized version of IE7 can be downloaded from Google.

In addition to using Google as the default search engine, Google's customized version of IE7 provides users with the Google Toolbar and a Google home page they can personalize.

According to a posting on Microsoft's IEBlog by Tony Chor, Microsoft's group program manager, Google and other companies, including Yahoo Inc. and, were able to build customized versions of IE7 by using the Internet Explorer Administration Kit.

Microsoft released the tool kit so developers could customize IE, as well as to provide companies with help to configure and deploy the browser through the corporation, Chor wrote in his posting.

Microsoft released IE7 for Windows XP on Oct. 18. IE7 is also included in Windows Vista, which is currently available in full release only to business users. Windows Vista will be available to consumers on Jan. 30.

[Jan 10, 2007] NSA helped Microsoft make Vista secure

From Av point of view this is a very positive development.

January 10, 2007 (IDG News Service) -- The U.S. agency best known for eavesdropping on telephone calls had a hand in the development of Microsoft Corp.'s Vista operating system, the software vendor confirmed yesterday.

The National Security Agency stepped in to help Microsoft develop a configuration of its next-generation operating system that would meet U.S. Department of Defense requirements, said NSA spokesman Ken White.

This is not the first time the secretive agency has been brought in by private industry to consult on operating system security, White said, but it is the first time the NSA has worked with a vendor prior to the release of an operating system.

By getting involved early in the process, the NSA helped Microsoft ensure that it was delivering a product that was both secure and compatible with government software, he said.

"This allows us to ensure that the off-the-shelf security configuration that the DOD customer receives is at a level that meets our standards," White said. "It just makes a lot more sense to be involved upfront, than it does to have the tail wag the dog."

The NSA's involvement in Vista was first reported yesterday by The Washington Post.

The NSA has provided guidance on how best to secure Microsoft's Windows XP and Windows 2000 operating systems in the past. The agency is also credited with reviewing the Vista Security Guide published on Microsoft's Web site.

Microsoft declined to allow its executives to be interviewed for this story. But in a statement, the company said that it asked a number of entities and government agencies to review Vista, including the NSA, the NATO and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Still, the NSA's involvement in Vista raises red flags for some. "There could be some good reason for concern," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). "Some bells are going to go off when the government's spy agency is working with the private sector's top developer of operating systems."

Part of this concern may stem from the NSA's reported historical interest in gaining back-door access to encrypted data produced by products from U.S. computer companies.

In 1999, then-Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) said that "high level deal-making on access to encrypted data had taken place between the NSA and IBM and Microsoft," according to EPIC's Web site.

With Vista expected to eventually power the majority of the world's personal computers, it would be tempting for the government agency to push for a way to gain access to data on these systems, privacy advocates say.

The NSA provided guidance on Vista's security configuration, but it did not open any back doors to Windows, White said. "This is not the development of code here. This is the assisting in the development of a security configuration," he said.

While the NSA is best known for its surveillance activities, the work with Microsoft is being done in accordance with the NSA's second mandate: to protect the nation's information system, White said. "This is the other half of the NSA mission that you never hear much about," he said. "All you ever hear about is foreign signal intelligence. The other half is information assurance."

[Nov 14, 2006] A Comparison of Solaris, Linux, and FreeBSD Kernel

Re:wishfull thinking (Score:5, Informative)

by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Monday October 17, @02:08AM (#13807631)

Win32 subsystem is TOO much tied to NT kernel and closely coupled to achieve the performance it has today. That is why NT 3.51/3.53 was more robust than NT 4,0 which moved major parts of the UI code to kernel mode.

Please actually read Inside Windows NT 3.51 by Helen Custer and THEN read Inside Windows NT 4.0 to know the difference.

Sorry, hun, read both and even had this discussion with a key kernel developer at Microsoft a few years ago. (1997 in fact, as we were starting to work with Beta 1 of Windows 2000)

NT 4.0 ONLY moved video to a lower ring. It had NOTHING to do with moving the Win32 subsystem INTO NT - that did not happen.

That is why Windows NT Embedded exists, and also why even the WinCE is a version of the NT kernel with NO Win32 ties.

Microsoft can STILL produce NT without any Win32, and just throw a *nix subsystem on it if they wanted to, but yet have the robustness of NT. Win32 is the just the default interface because of the common API and success of Windows applications.

I think you are confusing Ring dropping of the video driver with something completely different.

NT is a client/server kernel... Go look up what that means, please for the love of God.

Win32 is a subsystem, plain and simple. Yes it is a subsystem that has tools to control the NT kernel under it, but that is just because that is the default subsystem interface. You could build these control tools in any subsystem you want to stack on NT. PERIOD.

[Apr 30, 2006] NIST Security Checklists - Implementation Guides

[Mar 14, 2006] Directions in Windows Scripting

Administering Windows platforms using scripts can be a big productivity booster or a headache. Mitch Tulloch, author of Windows Server Hacks, sits down with Don Jones, a Microsoft MVP and the creator of, for a no-holds barred interview about the future of scripting.

[Aug 9, 2005] Microsoft No Monad scripting in first Windows Vista - Computerworld

Removed from client, but will survive on the server: "On the operating system side of things, Monad is then expected to be included in Windows Server Longhorn, expected in 2007"

Just one day after the first public reports of viruses being written for an upcoming feature of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system (see "First Windows Vista viruses unleashed"), the company said it will not include the feature in the first generally available release of Microsoft Vista, due out in the second half of 2006.

The feature, called the Monad Shell, provides a way for users to access the operating system using text-based commands rather than the traditional Windows graphical user interface. In the past, Microsoft has said that Monad will be part of Longhorn, the code name for both the next client and server versions of Windows.

In an interview Friday, Microsoft director of product management Eric Berg said Monad will not be included in the first commercial version of Windows Vista when it is released. But the product is expected to be included in Windows over the next "three to five years," he said. "Our intention is to synchronize it with both client and server operating systems."

Security experts had worried that if Monad were included in a widely used client, it might become an attractive target for hackers -- especially if the shell were enabled by default.

Whether it will be enabled by default is unclear. "There are multiple ways that we could introduce this technology to the client stream," Berg said.

The first Microsoft product to use Monad will be the next release of Microsoft's Exchange messaging server, code-named Exchange 12, which is also due in 2006, Berg said.

On the operating system side of things, Monad is then expected to be included in Windows Server Longhorn, expected in 2007, and could be available in a future Windows Vista release, said Rob Helm, director of research at Directions on Microsoft Inc. "Presumably, as time goes on, all of Microsoft's products will have Monad scripting interfaces," he said.

AnandTech - Performance-oriented Windows tweaking

In most cases deviating from the Windows defaults is simply not necessary or worthwhile.

Black Viper (amongst others) runs a Windows tweaks page offers many changes and customizations that users can make to MS Windows in the name of greater performance. BV recommends that many active-by-default Windows services be set to manual activation or disabled altogether, to save on memory useage and CPU cycles.

I have taken three systems with clean installs of Windows XP and reviewed these tweaks. Well, the third isn't really a clean install, it has a bunch of software running which any typical user would run e.g. firewall, antivirus, speedfan, etc. The first two are lower-end systems that should theoretically benefit most from this treatment, neither has the prefix "giga" in either its CPU speed or RAM capacity. The last one is a modern system (at the time of writing, anyway).

Display a description of the computer in Network Neighborhood (Windows 2000) at Registry Guide for Windows

Display a description of the computer in Network Neighborhood (Windows 2000)
This tweak allows you to add a description of the computer for display in Network Neighborhood.
This tweak can be easily applied using WinGuides Tweak Manager.
Download a free trial now!
Open your registry and find or create the key below.

Create a new String value, or modify the existing value, called "srvcomment" and set it according to the value data below.

Exit your registry, you may need to restart or log out of Windows for the change to take effect.

Nov 21, 2011] Best Windows freeware


PDF Utilties


Security Folder

Utility Folder

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Scripting Guide for Windows

Welcome to the MSDN Library

MSN Windows-Script group

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Softpanorama Norton Ghost Page

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Monad Shell

Monad Shell (MSH)


Changing Windows XP settings should be done very carefully. Tweaking windows is probably more about getting right set of application and scripts and avoiding overloading the system with too many "greedy" applications then about Registry changes. Run disk defragmenter, disk cleanup and registry cleanup. Do not install unnecessary of "bloated" software. Delete applications that you do not need.

OS & Software tweaking - TechSpot

Beginners Guides 101 Tips and Tweaks for Windows -

Doug's Windows 95-98-Me-XP Tweaks and Tips

Windows at MIT Windows XP Professional



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