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Windows Me things everyone should know


xpclient
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So I hope you guys know about some of the interesting things about Windows Me, at MSFN in fact, I found all this info in bits and pieces scattered over many threads so I am posting it in a single post. Also, there are many people here who already know it or are much smarter so ignore, I am only posting it for those still playing with this ancient OS in a VM or real old hardware. Hope it's not a problem: 

1. Only the OEM version of Windows Me has hibernation support, retail doesn't. Also, OEM Windows Me CD is bootable.

2. It is common knowledge that Windows Me was patched to restore MS-DOS real mode. Io.sys, Command.com and Regenv.exe can be patched so it processes Config.sys and Autoexec.bat. That is old news. But this way of patching has a downside - you lose the nice white Windows Me boot logo (logo.sys that's inside Io.sys) because it takes the Io.sys/Winboot file from the EBD (Emergency Boot Disk).

But instead what I recently learned (sure seasoned members and experts know it already) is after using the Me2Dos patch to modify Io.sys, command.com and regenv.exe or patching it yourself with a hex editor, if you take the Io.sys from Windows Me's Bootable CD (after it boots to DOS for Setup) or from the OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) that's there in tools\nettools\fac -> DTA files (which are actually CAB files on the CD) and overwrite the one in C:\ drive's root with this one, then this OEM Io.sys does have the nice boot screen and you can still boot to DOS if you want due to the patched Command.com and Regenv.exe. In fact you get the full set of startup options like 95/98 except "Previous version of MS-DOS".

 

image.thumb.png.b95a1e083b9a4ad6095ce8ea55d83a28.png

So, after you have patched Windows Me with the famous Me2DOS patch to boot like 95/98, you can replace Io.sys with the non-patched Io.sys from Me OPK or Bootable Me ISO, and you get the best of both worlds - boot screen as well as boot to DOS/startup files no longer ignored.

3. Another advantage of Io.sys from OEM CD vs EBD patch is Expanded Memory is available in Windows Me for DOS programs.

image.thumb.png.01c495fdb73b0cb2d76e3c53b870d2a5.png

4. Finally, you need to make a few changes to startup files after the Me2Dos patch and replacing Io.sys from OEM CD, so that "Command prompt only" option works like 95/98 and also you don't get boot errors at startup when booting Windows Me with the "Normal" option.

I'll explain why you need to modify files again after the Me2Dos patch. With this unpatched Io.sys from OEM CD Boot image/OPK, it always loads Windows Me even if you choose the "Command prompt only" option. This is because the Command interpreter line in startup files lacks the /P (permanent) switch. You just need to add the /P switch to config.sys.

After you install the Me2Dos patch, it modifies Config.sys to add this line:
shell=c:\command.com e:32768. Just modify it as stated below so you don't get a "File creation error" when booting. Like this:

shell=c:\command.com c: /p /e:32768
(Note the correct use of /p switch in Config.sys is to list dir where command interpreter resides before it so you must add: c: before /p)

Also this Io.sys will automatically load Ifshlp.sys so you can comment out the line in config.sys added by Me2Dos patch by a semicolon

and lastly remove the line from Autoexec.bat:
C:\WINDOWS\win.com
as with the non-patched Io.sys from Bootable OEM CD, it will load Windows Me anyway when "Normal" startup is used.

So you get all options working exactly like Windows 95/98: Normal, Logged, Safe Mode, Step-by-Step Confirmation, Command Prompt only (which does process your Config.sys and Autoexec.bat but boots to DOS only) and Safe mode command prompt only which bypasses them.

5. Another fun thing I recently learned is with the ORIGINAL Io.sys that Windows Me officially installs (not the patched one from Me2Dos/EBD patch and not the one from OEM Me CD), Windows Me does not actually need Win.com to boot! It is there only for compatibility but Win.com then loads vmm32.vxd which is the main file that switches from real-mode to protected mode. So you can do fun trick (not that there is any use of it):

- Rename C:\Windows\Win.com to WinMe.com so Windows doesn't find it automatically 
- Rename C:\Windows\system\vmm32.vxd to vmm32.com.
- Take Command.com from tools\nettools\fac -> DTA files and rename it to C:\Windows\system\vmm32.vxd

Now when your PC boots with original unpatched Io.sys, it will only load Command.com  Also you can directly load Windows Me by running:
C:\Windows\system\vmm32.com.
Or create a batch file in C:\ called Win.bat which points to C:\Windows\system\vmm32.com.

That way it loads command.com. If you type, Win, it loads Windows Me.  Note that I find this trick (#5) useless as original Io.sys bypasses startup files so there is no advantage of booting to DOS. Also if you use any different Io.sys, then vmm32.com will fail to load Windows Me directly.

Let me know what you guys think. I think having access to MS-DOS almost like Windows 98 is awesome. The only thing that is still missing is Restart to MS-DOS Mode option but you can always dual boot between some version of DOS and Windows Me/DOS if you don't like "Command Prompt only" (Windows Me DOS 8.0).

Edited by xpclient
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Thanks, those are some nice to knows!

I love the ME interface but always fear its stability. Oddly, the feature I used to love was that barn/shed wallpaper it came with. I have since installed that theme in 98. I think the dos dual boot option is the best one. One can get a cheap CF card for it in case one wants a dedicated dos boot disk!

I want the ME just for taking a feel of it, guess i will install it as dual boot someday along with NT4 as well as it was my 1st PC at work.

Edited by b0070
typo
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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi thanks for the list!

My windows CD is bootable (i burned many copies), thank goodness, because my floppy disk drive broke along time age. I've had to boot using my CD a few times now. I didn't know the difference between the two versions, OEM and retail, thanks for explaining. I got one of those original Windows ME keyboards from 20 years ago that has the "hibernate" button on the keyboard. If I touch that it goes into hibernation! And It's annoying as hell! I always disable it when I do a fresh install.

Next time I backup my files and plan on reinstalling windows, I'm going to try out those patches, couldn't hurt. I wouldn't mind seeing if that expanded memory trick works. There are a few DOS programs, for example PictView for DOS, that due to memory issues, can only use like 1 MB of ram and therefore can't load normal sized pictures. That's one reason, and one only, that I think win98 was better than ME. I could still use PictView in Windows 98 and have a really super fast image converter with a quick file menu. DOS sometimes could be so much quicker than windows mouse clicking through folders!

www.pictview.com

@ b0070

Turning off System Restore after a fresh installation virtually eliminates any stability problems I've had. When I first started using Windows ME like 17 years ago, yes, there were stability issues. Like every time you shut the computer down it would hang and freeze, then you'd have to physically unplug it. But turning off system restore fixed that.

Go to:
Control panel -> system -> performance tab -> file system -> troubleshooting -> disable system restore check box.

It's that simple!

Have a good one.

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To further elaborate on System Restore. It's my understanding that it's purpose was to simply update "check points" and maintain a backup of your system. So the longer you use the hard drive, the longer you have these "check points" being updated in the background. And eventually the size of this portion of you hard drive would continually grow. If you set your windows explorer to view "hidden and system" files -- not turned on by default -- you can see the "Restore" folder in the root of the C drive.

Even after you turn off system restore it's still there, it can't be removed, but it's much less intrusive if you turn it off. WAY LESS.

I still believe, after using Windows Me for about 17 - 18 years, that it is much sturdier operating system than it get credit for. I chalk that up to the "system file protection" feature. That's a feature win98 lacks, and I suspect it's the reason I've had only a handful of Blue Screens of Death in the last 17-18 years. Probably less than 5 in that whole time. Very rare. On the other hand, when I used Windows 98 I started getting them everyday.

Once the files get corrupted and screwed up on Win98, you have to start with a fresh install. Windows ME, using system file protection, I believe that's the reason it's more stable. It can take a lot more abuse.

Maybe I'm wrong... i don't know.... got my info off wikipedia page. Maybe XpClient can shed more light on the system file protection feature of WinME. I'd definitely be interested in more info that anybody might have.

Thanks.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Me

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On 9/29/2020 at 6:21 AM, ZortMcGort11 said:

that it is much sturdier operating system than it get credit for.

This. I think it was the mere disappointment with there not being a NT merger in 2000, the millennium hype, etc. that's given it a bad name.

A lot of this stuff is news to me though, as a newcomer to all this. I guess also it depends on your hardware too, and a lot of people likely didn't turn off System Restore either... :P

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  • 2 months later...

The trouble of Millennium was everyone with a 98 sticker put it in their machine that didn't have qualified Millennium hardware.

So many said if the driver worked on 98SE it'd work on millennium ok so why the BSOD'S? windows 98se isn't Millennium. 

I however stuck to xp badged machines although they're not qualified they still out performed 98se  with millennium and even with flle protections disabled i had a damn good time even today.

Researching Rudolph Loew's offerings to unlock potential on modern machines brought 9x back to the retro scene.

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