98Lite is a utility that will make your Windows 98 system smaller, faster and more stable. To do so, 98Lite removes most of Internet Explorer, as well as a lot of superfluous files and program. Using 98Lite can be beneficial if you have an older computer you want to speed up, or if you are a software minimalist who hates the junk that Microsoft stuffs down your computer's throat. However, 98Lite is only for people who know what they are doing (you know who you are), so be careful.



Desktop Themes

A desktop theme defines the look of your Windows environment: the background you see on the desktop, the colors, the mouse pointer, and so on. Using these free resources, you can jazz up your desktop with fun, colorful themes, many of which also come with screensavers. Windows itself comes with a few extra themes, but there are a lot more available on the Net.




From time to time, Microsoft releases a new version of the Windows operating system. For example, here are the versions of Windows that were released for home and small business users: Windows 95 (Aug 1995), Windows 98 (Jun 1999), Windows ME (Dec 2000), Windows XP (Dec 2001). As I write this (2005), there is as yet no replacement for Windows XP. Or is there?

The world changes quickly and, in a 10-year period, there is a legitimate need for more than 4 new operating systems. Microsoft knows that and, indeed, they have released other new versions. However, for reasons of their own, they will not call them new versions.

For example, in Aug 1995, Microsoft released what they called Windows 95 Services Pack 1 (referred to as Win95 SP1). The truth is that Win95 SP1 was really a new operating system; Microsoft just didn't want to say so.

Since then, the same thing happened three more times. In Jun 1999, Microsoft released Windows 98 Second Edition (Win98 SE); in Aug 2002, they released WinXP SP1; and in Sep 2004, WinXP SP2.

Thus, since 1995, there have actually been 8 (not 4) new operating systems: Win95, Win95 SP1, Win98, Win98 SE, WinME, WinXP, WinXP SP1, and WinXP SP2.

This can cause a problem if you are running, say WinXP SP2, and when you want to reinstall Windows from the original WinXP CD. When you finish the reinstallation, you will be left with the original WinXP, which is two full versions older than what you really want.

To upgrade, you will have to download and install SP2 (which is also a very big deal). Moreover, while you are doing this, your computer is in a vulnerable state. Microsoft made important changes in SP2 that enhanced Internet security, but you won't have those changes until SP2 is fully installed.

You could go out and buy a brand new CD for WinXP SP2, but that's an expensive and unsatisfying solution (especially if you need to maintain multiple computers). The real solution is to combine the original Win XP installation files with SP2 installation files, and find a way to install the whole thing at once.

This process -- integrating service packs into the installation process -- is called slipstreaming, and big companies do it all the time. Once they have the slipstreamed installation files, they store them in a special location on the corporate network. That way, whenever anyone needs to install or reinstall Windows XP SP2, he can do so directly from the network.

Setting up a network installation, however, can be tricky. If you are a home user or a small business owner, it is much more practical to make yourself a streamlined installation CD, one that embodies everything from the original version to the latest service pack. Then, whenever you want to install Windows, you can do it all at once.

Here are some resources to help you create such a CD. There are different tools and techniques you can use, so do check them all and pick the method you like best.



Windows 2000/NT

Windows 2000 is a family of operating systems used to run commercial computers. There are actually two main branches of the family: Windows 2000 Professional, the single-user system, and Windows 2000 Server, used to run servers. The first Windows NT systems were released in July 1993. In October 1998, Microsoft announced that all new versions of Windows NT would be named Windows 2000. Thus, Windows 2000 is the replacement for Windows NT. Windows 2000 has many of the features of NT and Windows 98. In particular, it can run the same 32-bit applications. One important advantage of Windows 2000 is it is more stable, requiring, in Microsoft's words, "fewer planned and unplanned system restarts". As we segue into the new century, and memories of NT fade like a politician's promises after the election, here are some resources to help you understand the vagaries of Windows 2000/NT and to communicate with the people who tend to the care and feeding of these systems. (And may all your restarts be happy ones.)




Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.nt.admin.misc
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.nt.admin.networking
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.nt.advocacy
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.nt.misc
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.nt.pre-release
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.nt.setup
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.nt.setup.hardware
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.nt.setup.misc
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.nt.software.services
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.nt.kernel-mode


#win2000 (EFnet)

#windows2000 (EFnet)

Windows Applications Talk and General Discussion

There is a lot of discussion about the various types of applications that run under the various types of Windows. Look for the Usenet group that is closest to what you need to talk about. These groups are good places to send a question.


Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.apps
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.apps.comm
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.apps.compatibility.win95
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.apps.financial
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.apps.misc
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.apps.utilities
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.apps.utilities.win3x
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.apps.utilities.win95
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.apps.word-proc

Windows CE

Windows CE is a Microsoft operating system used with small portable computers, such as PDAs and palmtops, as well as some video game systems. Windows CE can also be used with small specialized computers called embedded systems, which are used within larger machines, such as cars, microwave ovens and VCRs. In general, Windows CE is Microsoft's entry in the we-want-to-control-the-world sweepstakes and, as such, deserves your every attention. (By the way, the name "CE" used to stand for consumer electronics, although no one will admit it now.)




Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.ce

Windows Drivers

A driver is a complicated program that acts as an interface between an operating system (such as Windows) and a hardware device. Windows comes with many built-in drivers, but when you start adding your own hardware to the computer, you may have to start searching to find the driver you need. Even if you do have all the drivers required by your system, there will be times when you may want to update to a newer version. Sometimes, updating to newer drivers can eliminate mysterious problems.



Windows Fine-Tuning

Once you get used to Windows, you will find that there are a number of small idiosyncrasies that annoy you. Well, they annoy everyone else, too. This site has advice and procedures you can use to make Windows do what you want (some of the time anyway). I have found lots of great hints here. Hint: Don't visit thise site unless you have a lot of time. I guarantee you will get distracted and spend half the night trying things.



Windows Glossary

In the beginning, there was a word. And then, another word, and yet another word, and on and on. And finally, we found ourselves with a huge amount of technical terminology that only a nerd could understand. The next time you are reading about Windows and you encounter a word you don't understand, check with the Windows glossary: your permanent online nerd replacement.



Windows Magazines

Here are some Web sites maintained by various Windows magazines. If you want to keep up on Windows news -- especially developer issues -- these are good places to spend some time. Personally, I find skimming through the Web sites a lot more fun than reading the print versions of the magazines.



Windows Networking Talk and General Discussion

There are a variety of places to discuss Windows networking. First, there are a number of Usenet groups. It is a good idea to use the one that is most appropriate to your interests, although there is considerable overlap and cross-posting. Second, you can join the IRC channels for real-time networking talk.


Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.networking.misc
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.networking.ras
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.networking.tcp-ip
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.networking.win95
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.networking.windows


#windows2000 (EFnet)

#windows98 (Undernet)

#windowsnt (DALnet, EFnet, Undernet)

Windows News

Behind the scenes, the world of Windows never stops. Microsoft is always making changes, creating new products and announcing new plans. Actually, it's all a plot. They want to lull you into a false sense of complacency, then -- BLAM! -- hit you with brand new "must have" software. Don't let anybody pull the operating system wool over your eyes. Keep up on the news and not only will you stay current and knowledgeable, people will invite you to parties just to hear you talk about the new version of Windows.




Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.announce
Google Newsreader comp.windows.news

Windows Official Web Sites

Microsoft's official Web site offers access to official resources for Windows Me, 98, 95, NT, 2000 and XP. These are good places to look for the latest official free programs and utilities, official announcements, offical marketing info, and all the propaganda you need to throw your own Bill Gates' birthday party.



Windows Pre-releases

The life cycle of a Windows operating system goes like this: (1) Wait and wait a long time for a new version. (2) Beta release: use a beta version of the new operating system for a long time. (3) Go to 1. When we are in the throes of a beta, you can participate in this Usenet discussion group to find out what everyone else is doing. This is also a good place to send questions when something strange happens and you need some help.


Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.pre-release

Windows Programming

Here is a large selection of resources devoted to the topic of programming in the Windows environment. Topics cover general programming as well as more specific subjects like controls, graphics, memory management, multimedia, networking and tools.




Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.controls
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.graphics
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.memory
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.misc
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.multimedia
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.networks
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.ole
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.tools.mfc
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.tools.misc
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.tools.owl
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.tools.winsock
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.vxd
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.win32
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.winhelp
Google Newsreader comp.windows.ms.programmer

Windows Questions and Answers

These mailing lists are dedicated to Windows 95/98 questions and answers. When you are completely stuck, and the possibility of useful tech support seems like a figment of Mr. Bill's overactive imagination, this mailing list is a godsend. Send in your question and you may get an answer from some kind soul somewhere on the Net. Of course, you have a responsibility, too. If you see a question you can answer, please do so and help someone else.

Listserv Mailing List:

List Name: win95-l
Subscribe To: listserv@peach.ease.lsoft.com

Listserv Mailing List:

List Name: win98-l
Subscribe To: listserv@peach.ease.lsoft.com

Windows Registry

The registry is the central location that stores all of Windows' configuration data, including data related to the Windows system, the hardware, applications and user preferences. You can do a lot of cool things, and solve some problems, if you know how to manipulate the registry. Windows 95 and 98 come with a registry editor program (regedit.exe). Windows 98 also has a program called Registry Checker that finds and fixes registry problems automatically (it runs each time you start Windows). However, it is crucial that you learn what you are doing before you make any changes, because it is possible to harm your system irrevocably. An easy way to manipulate the registry safely is to use the Microsoft program TweakUI, which is one of the Microsoft PowerToys. Here are some resources to help you understand the registry. In particular, you can read about TweakUI and the PowerToys. I have also included two relatively benign but useful registry tools: Regclean (from Microsoft) and EasyCleaner.



Windows Resources

If you use Windows, I promise you -- you will eventually need technical information. When that happens, try looking on the Net. I have chosen these Web sites as good, all-around places to help you find what you need. Aside from technical information, there are also other types of resources: discussion forums, software archives, event info, online magazines, and links to other Windows-related sites.



Windows Setup

The installation and configuration of Windows is supposed to be automatic and is supposed to work perfectly. However, once in awhile, perhaps even too seldom to mention -- I don't want you to think I am a complainer -- something goes wrong. Thus, we have Usenet groups just for discussion of Windows installations and other related miracles of modern life.


Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.setup
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.setup.win3x
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.setup.win95
Google Newsreader comp.os.ms-windows.win95.setup

Windows Startup

When Windows starts, a lot of stuff happens, but figuring it out is not always straightforward. Startup instructions are contained in a number of places: (1) the config.sys, autoexec.bat, system.ini and win.ini files, (2) the Startup folder, and (3) the registry. When you have a mysterious Windows problem, or if want to tune your system, it can really help to know what is happening where. This information will help.



Windows XP

Windows XP is a member of the Windows family of operating systems. (According to Microsoft, XP stands for "experience".) With Win XP, Microsoft has merged the most important features of their consumer operating systems, Win 95/98/Me, with the security and reliability of their business operating systems, Win NT/2000. In the process, Microsoft has finally weaned their consumer operating system from the old DOS architecture. How good is Win XP? Well, in the words of Bill Gates, "Windows XP is the best operating system Microsoft has ever built." (And if you can't trust Bill Gates, who can you trust?)