January 05, 2001, 9:43 AM — I'VE JUST LEARNED that my Windows Me Secrets co-author, Davis Straub, recently set a new world record for miles flown in a hang glider. Smashing the 10-year-old record of 308 miles, he launched his glider from Zapata County, Texas, and landed 347 miles later (as the co-author flies) in Sterling County, Texas. The details of his adventure can be read at davisstraub.com/OZ/Ozv4n155.htm.
"Who cares?" you ask. I tell you this only to illustrate the fact that so many people we know professionally also have a personal life about which we don't often know.
Windows Me has some secrets like this, too, as several readers have recently pointed out.
One of the differences between the new Windows Me and the operating system it upgrades, Windows 98, is DOS. If you hold down the Ctrl key while Windows 98 is booting, a menu is displayed. From this menu, you can run a DOS prompt instead of Windows. This is handy if you want to run commands when Windows isn't starting properly, or to use DOS tools that don't run under Windows.
Windows Me doesn't allow you to boot to DOS. Yes, you can still open a DOS session under Windows Me. Most DOS programs will run in such a session, but some won't. A few readers who miss the flexibility they're accustomed to have asked me about this.
Microsoft removed the ability to boot to DOS in order to speed the start-up of Windows Me and to eliminate the support hassles caused by real-mode device drivers that load before Windows.
But it turns out that DOS is still in there underneath Windows Me. Microsoft removed only the user's ability to get to DOS, not the code itself.
Brian Moura, the assistant city manager of San Carlos, Calif., notes that software such as disk partitioning tools typically don't work while Windows is running. He's experimented satisfactorily with a utility posted on the Internet that restores your ability to boot to DOS prior to Windows.
This utility is called WinMeDOS.com. It's available from a programmer who goes by the handle of Reines at www.geocities.com/mfd4life_2000.
WinMeDOS.com performs minor surgery on three Windows Me files. These are Command.com, the character-mode command processor; Io.sys, a hidden boot file; and Regenv32.exe, a Windows system file.
Following the instructions at Reines' Web site, you make copies of these three files in a temporary folder, then run WinMeDOS.com in that folder. After the utility amends the three files, you move them back into their proper locations.